I’m at a fork on the parenting road. And I don’t know which way to turn. Frankly, I’d like to turn back and go home, but unfortunately that’s not an option…
On the left of the fork is the road that leads to activities the kids are enrolled in outside of the home. Hockey, gymnastics, soccer and piano, plus swimming. It sounds crazy, when I look at the list, especially when I realize I missed ball-hockey and Sonja’s never-ending requests for playdates. There’s school and homework in that as well, which requires parental supervision. It all sounds like it’s too much.
On the right of the fork the road leads to an empty space. No activities, only family time and home-time. We could sit and play lego, board games or paint together, we could take excursions into the many parks out our way, we could go skating, tobogganing or just walking and playing outside when the snow is fresh and deep. We could cook together, bake together, and just hang out, maybe pop a movie in once in a while. We could just BE.
We did the second option for 5 years. The kids were young, we did crafts, we spent many hours walking and playing at the playground, or having picnics or making snowmen. Then they got older, started school, and they developed interests of their own. They received countless invites to birthday parties, and I was forced to start a spreadsheet with phone numbers of all their friends they made…their social lives became busy and complicated. And they’re only 7 and 5…
We had a family night last night. Actually, we spent the bulk of the holidays together, sometimes with extended family, sometimes just us. We spent some of that time at the rink, but we also spent some of that time just doing things together alone, just the 4 of us. Yet as the holidays draw to a close, it’s becoming more evident that especially Sonja, who is not in an activity unlike Ben with his tournament, is craving playtime with her friends.
She is getting harder to handle. Is it her age? Is it me? Is it just a clash in personalities? She is an extrovert, and very VERY confident in what she wants and when she wants it. She was like this as a baby and I wondered even back then what kind of a child she was going to turn into.
Sonja needs activities, it seems, that go beyond family time. As long as the family time balances out the out-of-the-house activities, she seems more even-tempered. I have noticed this over time and find her easier and more pleasant to be around when she has that balance met.
She has to go to gymnastics. Indoor soccer will give her that extra bit of team-oriented-endless-running activity that is harder to do in snowsuits outside in the frigid air, and when she accompanies us to the rink during one of Ben’s hockey sessions, she has several children to play with while we watch a game or practice. This too satisfies her social needs. And she’s back in the pool after a term off.
I don’t know how I’m going to handle it all, but there it is.
Ben has hockey and hockey and more hockey. But his dad takes care of most of that. He is also in swimming, but the kids are now in the same class which will make life easier for us. And he gets to start piano lessons. He loves music but it always conflicted with hockey, so after two years of music, he had to choose. I finally found a night where the potential for hockey conflict is minimal plus Sonja is occupied in soccer at the same time.
Only, I don’t feel like it’s so perfect. I feel like the calendar is so full, I’m not sure I can actually wrap my head around how this will all work out.
How do people who work full-time outside of the home manage these crazy schedules? Do they just drop off on all the activities? When does one do the grocery shopping? Cooking? Are we resigned to start ordering in more often now?
I hope not. I’m going to keep using my crockpot, and if I have to get groceries delivered via a service to help manage my time better, then I will consider that option too.
Time will tell what will happen next. In the meantime, we still have a whole week of home-time, family-time, and I plan on getting organized with, hopefully, the kids’ help.
I’ve become one of *those* parents who schedules her kids.