Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Our Extracurricular Routine, This Year

Last year, around this time, I wrote a post about limiting extracurriculars. Last year, I think we did a great job at doing just that. We were home pretty much every night for dinner. Everyone was in one activity that met once a week and then some of the kids did swimming and/or rock climbing with their Dad every week. I think it is so important to have a lot of flex time and lots of margin and empty space on the calendar. I know it is crucial to my well-being. If there is too much stuff going on- too many things written on the calendar, too much coming and going, I start to feel seriously stressed. Like Mama in The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Pressure.

I love that book. I don't love the stress that comes with doing too much, though.

I get stressed because we don't have as much time to do our lessons.
I feel badly about not being able to cook a decent dinner. I get sick of sandwiches!
I feel terrible when I have to interrupt a child who is happily playing "because it's time to go to practice."
I get tired of always having to plan the day around what time we have to leave.
I start watching the forecast, hoping for rain, because some of the activities are weather-dependent. Then I feel guilty for doing that!
And I get stressed about just how much all of it is costing!

 This week, I do not feel like I am doing such a great job at limiting the out-of the-house stuff, so I am struggling a bit to adjust. I am a pretty introverted person. I do enjoy watching the kids develop interests, and I love to watch their activities, but lately I find myself wishing I could just stay home more! The kids aren't really doing anything new this year, but Grace is going to be at the horse farm twice a week instead of just once. The gymnastics team meets two evenings a week and it totally takes over dinner time, plus it's 25 minutes of driving each way. Actually, pretty much everything we do is 20-25 minutes of driving each way. Rose really wanted to continue swimming lessons, but the only time I could fit it is Saturday morning.  Christopher's practice takes over another dinner time. I think those things, plus the fact that dh's work hours are less flexible this year have me feeling the crunch more than usual.

But some of this activity is seasonal and this fall is going to be busier than this winter will be, at least I hope! So I am trying to treat right now as "a season", which really, it is. I enjoy reading about others' routines, if nothing else because oftentimes their lives are crazier than mine and it helps me get perspective. After all, we could certainly be even busier than we are now.

So for the record, here is our fall routine....

Monday - We stay home all day! I am trying to keep appointments off this day and am resisting signing up for anything taking place on a Monday.  I love starting the week with a day at home, we get a ton done on Mondays and can actually eat at a normal hour.

Tuesday - We visit the library, then the older kids go to the gym with Dad and Rose has practice. Everyone gets home late and we eat together late.This is a crockpot night.

Wednesday - Grace is at the farm and Christopher has practice. While waiting for Grace, the other kids and I head to the park. While waiting for Christopher, Dad collects the other kids and brings them home. I stay and watch, go for a walk, and run errands. Christopher and I bring along sandwiches, everyone else eats at home.

Thursday - Rose has practice. Grace cooks on Thursdays and people eat in shifts, basically.

Friday - Kind of a wildcard day, but we usually only homeschool in the mornings. Afternoons we usually have park day or a field trip.  This is our pizza night and we are usually back early enough to make it ourselves.

Saturday - Grace heads to the farm again and Rose has swimming. Both are thankfully in the morning, leaving the afternoon free.

Sunday - There is nowhere we have to be, though we will often do some sort of outing.

When I write it out, it doesn't look too bad. I think a lot of my stress is coming from not leaving enough space around activities (that margin again). Homeschooling is taking us until 2:30 or 3:00 most days and it feels like a lot to have to pack up and run right out, only to get back late.  I am not sure how I can fix that, other than cutting our lesson time shorter. Basically, I have no answers for how to make this "season of driving" easier on everyone, but I am trying to figure it out!

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