Thursday, September 01, 2011

The Busy Balance

We're in the middle of a 2-3 week period that is transitioning from summer to fall. It feels somewhat chaotic, because every day we have some sort of parent meeting/registration/orientation/gentle-start/meet-the-teacher/first-practice/get-to-know-you event. And I'm starting to realize, even though it's only kindergarten and preschool, how complicated it is to have kids in different schools. Imagine when Katy's in high school, David in middle, and Luke still in elementary. Talk about complicated.

I'm also having a debate in my head about how much activity is too much? I feel like everyone has opinions on this, and certainly there must be a different best answer for every family. Katy is in school 5 half days a week. I think the half day is important to note when considering the activities, because her school day is only 2.5 hours. David will have 2 half days of preschool, (different half of the day). We will do our church's children's program one evening per week. And Katy is signed up for soccer. She had her first practice last week, Brian is assistant coach, and she is REALLY excited about it. That will be two 30 minute games per week, walking distance from our house, for 6 weeks.

That seems like enough for now, I'd definitely prefer to wait until soccer is over before doing anything else. There are two other things that peak my interest: one is piano, the other is Girl Scouts.

My mom is an excellent pianist, and she's been giving Katy basic lessons when she sees her. We have a keyboard (Oma again), and Katy really enjoys playing. But this could definitely wait until winter. As for Girl Scouts, we got an informational letter home from school. Brian and I both did scouts for large chunks of our childhood and have very fond memories. I think they only meet twice a month after school. I don't want to overwhelm our schedule and not have down time at home. But Katy is home with me 5 mornings a week (plus weekends). So she has down time for sure.

Here's the thing about activities for us: Brian and I are both extroverts, and not homebodies. We prefer to be out and about, doing things with other people than staying home. I certainly value time at home, but staying home for long periods of time drives me crazy, and the kids just tend to pick at each other. I don't want to impose my preference on them, of course, but for now they have seemed quite happy to go out and do things. I'm never dragging them out the door, it's more like, "Let me outta here!"

So how do you find a balance? Do you have a rule for how much is allowed at once? How much do you think parent personality and kid personality play a part?


Weed said...

This very much hits home right now... My husband and I tend to disagree about how much is too much. He grew up not doing much as far as extra curricular activities, and I grew up doing a lot. I don't want my kids to be super busy, but I do want them to try various activities to find something they're good at and that interests them. I'm not an extrovert, but my children seem to be, so I'm happy to let them be involved in activities outside the house (spending too much time at home also drives me nuts).

Rachel's doing gymnastics starting in November. She also wants to do girl scouts (I hope Katy does it, since they'd likely get to be together!). I really want to do AWANA but it's so late.... She wants to take dance, but I can't find a reasonably priced dance class. I may have to bite the bullet next year and let her take a studio ballet class (most 5 year old classes are still combo classes, and I know she'd prefer ballet, which you can usually start at 6). Anyway, all that to say, my husband tends to think one activity is enough. I'd lean towards two at this age. I think it may be a trial and error kind of thing--you try a few and see if you feel stretched too thin, and cut back the next time.

Weed said...

Oh, I also forgot to add that Rachel wants to take piano, too, but my husband wants me to teach her, which I don't think will work. I've always heard that you should wait until a child knows how to read before starting lessons, which is one reason why I haven't even attempted it with her, yet. Anyway...I hope you find a good balance for your family.

Oma said...

I didn't have 3 kids close together; and I also worked full time when you guys were in school. Sanity takes a different form under these circumstances.

However, I had a couple of great friends at church (Peggy T and Sandy B) who DID have 3 or 4 kids at home like you. They felt it was valuable to have at least a couple of nights a week where the family ate together around the table at supper time. They balanced their activities so this could happen. This included parents' activities, too.

You just have to create a space where kids can talk to you about their day and spend time with you. It pays big dividends when they are teens.

Pam said...

Right now I have K for Jack & soccer. I'm nervous about Danny going to pre-K next week. Could be an EXPLOSION involved. So maybe I'll comment then.... X

bluedaisy said...

This really is a tough question & one I have struggled with as well. Right now, Michael is in full day kinder, Liam is about to start 3 days (2 hrs each) am preschool with one day of "lunch bunch". Chloe is taking a semester off (LOL).
I had the boys signed up for t-ball, then realized that the program I chose is no good. So I just cancelled that yesterday. Now I feel like I want to find something else- maybe soccer? Or we could jump back with swim lessons.
I like having things to do but I personally HATE feeling hemmed in by too much. Obviously, I will have to adjust as the kids get older. So for now, I think school plus one extra weekly activity is fine (plus church which we also do). If the boys want to do scouts which meets less frequently, I think it would be fine to add that as well. I think having something too many nights of the week and then EVERY weekend gets a bit too hectic. And Michael is SUPER tired from the full school day, so I'm gonna let him settle into that before attempting too much. I can easily do things with the younger 2 throughout the week.
You could always start out with what you planned, see how it goes and then add scouts in if it makes sense.

bluedaisy said...

PS- I'd rather "wait to add" then have to back out