Balancing the amount of quality family time you have with the amount of outside activities your kids participate in can be tricky. Even just one activity per child can totally eat away most of your evenings!
In our home we have one child who is a competitive gymnast and spends 4 week nights plus Sat mornings there. Add the next child who is in the throws of soccer season which adds up to two games and one practice each week and the little one at the horse barn one night and soccer one other night and you have a whole lot of running around!
For our family we have always felt it was important to be a family, to build and nurture our family relationships. There are two dynamics that factor into this: the time the kids and I have during the day, and the time we have as a whole family at night and on the weekends.
During the daytime hours it is easy to get sidetracked by all the classes and activities offered in our area. From fun meet ups to science classes, art en devours and so much more! If we are not careful we can find ourselves running every day of the week!
That being said, with myself and the kids it is often a whole lot easier to build relationships than it is with my husband because he is at work all day and we are home together. Therefore our evenings and weekends are an important time to be together as a whole family unit. Unfortunately those outside activities, such as community and competitive team sports all happen during that time.
How To Maximize Family Time:
1. You have to learn to say no. We have found that they can’t have everything. We have had to say no to that extra soccer clinic or that night chess class. Although it would be ideal to be able to go to one activity that works for all, I have never found that to happen for us. Even with just 3 kids and 2 parents, there are nights when one child has to catch a car pool, or wait for a period of time for us to come and get them. So to minimize on this we have learned to turn down opportunities in lieu of keeping some “together” time in our schedule.
2. They need to pick and choose.T Each child has to do some picking and choosing sometimes. We will ask them what they would rather have, for example soccer or the horse barn. Just as we have to learn to say no to many activities, no matter how awesome they may seem, so do the kids. Since all of our children are getting older we like to give them some of the say, thus within our guidelines we will let them pick and choose what they want to spend their time doing.
3. Maximize bang for your buck (both money & time). Using our daytime school hours I try to find activities that would include at least 2 out of 3 children. I have often decided to opt out of something because the commitment involved for just one child was too much sacrifice for the others in the family.
Finding activities like art, chorus or science where they are running a class for multiple ages, or running multiple classes is where we try to spend our time. This past year our oldest took a middle school science class at the local science museum so I was able to spend the time with the other two in the museum during her class. This way there was something for everyone to do. The year before the older two participated in a multi-aged chorus leaving the little one and I to fend for ourselves, but it was more than worth it for the benefits the older two were receiving from the chorus.
Finding Benefits In Outside Activities:
Besides the obvious benefits of whatever activities you are participating in, we have found some little “life lessons” so to speak that our children are learning through managing our time both in and out of the house.
1. Our kids have learned that they can’t have both of us at every event all the time. They have learned to share time with other siblings, and to be grateful for whichever parent has come out in support of their current activity.
2. Our kids have learned to give of their time to each other. They sit at each other’s events in support of their siblings.
3. Without the bustle and sometimes stress of juggling outside activities for all 3 kids, they would never half appreciate the time we have at home together.
The days we can stay in our pjs all day, or the evenings when we can eat a leisurely dinner and not be running out the door to somewhere are that much more enjoyable when you have those hectic days or evenings to balance them out.