I love having 5 kids. The logistical details of life with 5 kids, however, are a bit…complex.
No individual child is over-scheduled (indeed, one has space to do something else in our “something musical, something physical” rubric…) But if 5 kids each have an average of 3 things apiece, that adds up to 15. That’s 15 sets of dates to keep track of, including one-off changes, often at least some driving, special parent meetings, etc.
It more or less works. On the other hand, I’ve been at something every night this week.
Monday I took the 8-year-old to karate (while two other kids had music lessons…and the 3-year-old had gone to gymnastics and then karate earlier…). I took a few minutes during the lesson to hang out in Barnes and Noble. They had a copy of Tranquility by Tuesday! Always fun to see. On Tuesday, I had my evening mapped out where I’d drive the 8-year-old to swim and take the 16-year-old to Starbucks during practice. Everyone else was home with my mother-in-law who’s been visiting (my husband was not home). I got to the swim place and noticed several other parents walking out of the building with their kids. Turns out the practice was moved to a time 35 minutes later. I guess this was on the calendar but I didn’t know there was a calendar (my husband handled the registration for swim and normally does the driving, but he was out of town so I guess didn’t look — and it seems like a lot of other parents didn’t either!).
So…I was willing to admit defeat, but the 8-year-old really wanted to swim. So it was over to Starbucks, then I dropped the 16-year-old back at home, and came back to the pool, where I sat in the hallway and wrote in my journal for a while. Not a terrible way to spend the evening, I guess. It just wound up being a later evening than I thought it would be.
Wednesday, fortunately, ended earlier than I thought it might. I picked up the 16-year-old at an after school practice for something (which had involved him taking a bus to a *different* school…), then came home and had a quick dinner with the 14-year-old, before taking off for a parent meeting at his school for an activity. To go to this meeting together, his alto sax lesson had to be moved to a different time earlier in the week. But fortunately we were only there for about 30 minutes, and then got to go home.
Tonight will involve swim (the normal time! I checked!) and robotics + fencing for the 14-year-old, meaning he needs to be picked up from school after robotics practice and then taken to fencing. We usually grab him dinner on the way. I’ll need to make sure the 16-year-old practices music for his Friday voice lesson before he and I go to choir together.
There is a bit of a 3-ring circus feeling around here. But there are certain ways I’ve made this feel more doable. I generally am not driving the 3-year-old around to everything. If we don’t have two parents home, we have someone else home (this can now be any of my older children — a big difference from a few years ago!). I also generally view time during kid activities as potential personal time. I watch some, but I don’t need to watch everything. Hence the journaling, Barnes and Noble time, etc.
I’ve also just accepted that there will be a lot of moving parts. I want my kids to do things, and I want to be able to say “yes” when they choose to pursue activities. My 8-year-old, for instance, told me he wants to get back into climbing, so we are adding rock climbing classes back into the schedule. I think it’s exciting that my older three kids have all pursued and gotten into select musical ensembles, and part of supporting that means coordinating private lessons so they can continue to improve.
So I’m just trying to enjoy the circus for now! And hoping not to drop too many balls while juggling…