I always swore that we wouldn’t get sucked into it. I really thought that we wouldn’t end up revolving our lives around a massive list of sports and after school activities for the kids. I’ve always believed that kids (well, at least my kids, at least) really need, and benefit from, unplanned, unstructured, downtime for them to unwind, rest, or play creatively, so we’ve always tried to make that a priority. Benjamin had a daily nap until he was almost 6, too, and it was great for him. I expected Liam to most likely do the same.
But now, suddenly, I’m a “soccer mom”. B is enrolled in three different after school activities, plus swimming lessons on Saturdays. Each day’s plans for the whole family are worked around these activities, including meals, naps (or lack thereof) for Liam, and even Dan’s work schedule. Regular followers of this blog might have noticed an unusually long hiatus over the past 4 weeks — we haven’t been sick, I’ve just been too busy to write at all. (My post from late September for Liam’s birthday was written back before his birthday … but it took me a week to get it posted, and this is the first one I’ve written since then.)
Our days are a whirlwind. Every moment from the time my alarm goes off until the boys are in bed is specifically planned. Each minute has a purpose, and our schedule has very little flexibility. If not for my bus and train trips, and the luxury of (sometimes) joining the family for meals, most days I would not sit down from 6:30 a.m. until at least 8:30 at night.
This whole thing kind of took me by surprise. It happened kind of by accident. I didn’t mean to sign us up for so much. I didn’t expect B to get into so many of the activities he was interested in, and I wasn’t sure he’d enjoy them all as much as he is. But, as it turns out, he’s having a great time, learning new stuff, and making new friends. Liam, who can sometimes be inflexible and intractable in his own right, seems, surprisingly, to enjoy our daily trips to pick up B, and he is handling the loss of some of his naps much better than I expected. For Dan & I, this new schedule means keeping a tighter rein on our own activities — meals have gotten less complex, we’re getting to bed earlier, and our regular TV times have entirely disappeared. We’ve kind of gone from 0-60 on this whole school thing.
But, though it was unintentional and it is a bit overwhelming, in a way I’m kind of enjoying it. It’s exhausting, both physically and mentally, to balance this many items on our schedule, but there’s a great deal of satisfaction in seeing B learn and enjoy so many things. (Though I do have a tendency to look for the upside to any situation, so maybe I’m just finding the positives because I’m looking for them.) Also, this is temporary — it’s for a semester, not forever. B has already expressed a desire to drop swim lessons after he can swim across the pool unassisted (my own standard for him being “done” learning to swim), and we’ll see how many of the activities he may choose to continue with (and which he’ll be able to get into) next semester. I’m still not sure that this packed-full schedule is really “us”, but it’s certainly another kind of adventure.
For now, we’re getting through it, enjoying it, and gaining a whole new appreciation for our precious few moments of free time. I also have a newfound respect, and a bit of awe, for the families who keep up this kind of schedule for years and years. Also, I have a huge backlog of planned and partially written blog posts, and I’ll get around to those eventually … but for now, this soccer mom will probably be commuting more and composing less.