When it comes to parental schedules, kid activities can often become a source of stress. They are also the font of a lot of angsty internet essays about whether children are “over scheduled” today. (In general, no. Very few kids have very many activities — and the research I have seen and written about finds that there aren’t negative effects of kids being a bit “busy.”)
I tend to like activities. They allow children to explore their interests, to get some exercise, to work in a group, to be challenged in different ways. I think this is particularly important if kids aren’t always being challenged in school.
Of course, someone still has to work out the scheduling details. So in today’s episode of Best of Both Worlds, Sarah and I discuss what our kids are doing these days, and how we make the schedules and driving work (I have become better at protecting my work time…though I still make a lot of 10 minute drives. This is one reason I suspected the Before Breakfast podcast format might work…I have a lot of 8-10 minute drives and maybe other people do too!)
We also discuss what to do if a kid wants to quit an activity, or what to do if a kid generally likes an activity, but is sometimes just whiny. Also, that perennial question: do you need to be at every practice and game? (Spoiler alert: no.)
We end with a question from a listener who is expecting her first child. She is really not liking pregnancy and wonders how we psyched ourselves up to go through this multiple times. Neither Sarah nor I particularly enjoyed pregnancy. I know I was counting every week. But, on the other hand, we now have all these cool little people around and in our lives. Sometimes we choose to do difficult things because of the ultimate payoff. There are some parallels with activities that way!
Please give the episode a listen and let us know what you think.
In other news: If you haven’t already, please check out Sarah’s blog series with her time log over the last week! I love this genre.
12 thoughts on “Best of Both Worlds podcast: Kid activities”
I had two daughters in a ballet program similar to what Sarah described, and the hack I learned from three or so years of it was to send my husband to do drop off and pick up whenever possible (but especially drop off). If I did it, the teachers would inevitably comment on the need to do a better job with the hair buns, but if he did it, then he got an A for effort and nobody said anything other than how wonderful it was that he was there. Yes, this speaks to larger issues, but we were already buying into some gender-normative behavior with ballet anyway, and this trick is what got me through!
@Cate – that’s brilliant. Yes, the instructors probably weren’t going to scold a guy on his bun-making skills.
Hahaha I love this!
My husband does drop off for daycare with our 3yo daughter and we also find he gets a lot of admiring comments for what I think is a fairly rumpled turnout.
Jeeez, there’s a big ramt going on in my head now about the ‘larger issues’…
Ramt = rant (dutch autocorrect)
BOBW usually applies to women with younger children, but did any of your research about kids activities mention high schoolers? With both of our girls, our family struggled with activities once they could drive themselves. My husband and I just had a hour long conversation with our 17 year old about getting enough sleep and prioritization because she wants to do it all: track,
dance classes, school play, NHS meetings, community service hour requirements for graduation, friends, school events, church youth group, etc. I’m finding it requires a different investment of time and mental energy to coach young adults through their emerging life decisions.
My hack is not to drive as often and make kids wait. This means, for example, that my daughter comes with me to drop off her brother at his practice and has about 45 minutes wait until hers begin. Similarly her brother will have to wait until his sister finishes her practice. This saves me driving back and forth, and like Deanne says, helps my pre-teens learn prioritization/time management skills. If it’s something they really want to do, they either have to accept the consequences of my driving time choices or find alternate solutions. I’m also getting better at making the “forced” down time work better for me, e.g. scrapbooking at an ice rink restaurant table or walking outside.
This is really great advice, esp as my daughter gets older and is more comfortable with waiting on her own somewhere. We’ve been starting to ask her to walk 20 min to a couple of her extracurriculars (super safe neighborhood) when there’s a conflict with us needing to pick up her younger sister, etc.
Also, as the kids grow up and find activities that they’ve self-selected and for which they’re truly passionate about, don’t forget to interview the potential coach/teacher before committing to a certain one (as you would interview any other potential, important service provider). Ask about background, coaching style/approach/philosophy, how they define success in this activity, what do they see as the path to success, etc. If the national governing body for that sport/activity has a searchable database, check to see how the coach’s athletes did over long periods of time. If you’re spending non-trivial amounts of your time and money for your child to do this activity, then it makes sense to invest a small amount of time to make sure the coach that you’re committing to is the right one for your child/your family.
Great advice. Thank you!l for sharing.
I am one of the few who actually enjoyed being pregnant (for the most part–I had all day nausea for several weeks in the first trimester and other minor discomforts throughout), but I know that I’m lucky. I do think that pregnancy is a time to pamper yourself–prenatal massages, comfortable clothes (I’m a big fan of Storq–they are super comfortable, classic, and can be worn when not pregnant), and a body pillow for more comfortable sleeping. Also there are ways to alleviate some discomfort, even if you can’t completely cure things–figure out which pain medications are safe to take, try different solutions to issues like heartburn, etc. I was sad to not be able to run as much as I would have liked, but I walked my dog every single day and that made me feel great (much more so than I expected). I also enjoyed prenatal yoga and think it helped me have an easier pregnancy and labor.
I thought you were a little hard on the questioner. yes, life changes forever when the kid is born more so than with pregnancy. But when you have a baby who is yours and cute/cuddly/amazing who you’re bonded to this seems like a decent tradeoff. When you’re pregnant (especially with your first), you feel lousy, can’t do the same stuff you did before and the reward feels abstract and far into the future. I think it was easier to have perspective with later pregnancies but the first one was a real slog.