When I read about kids with multiple extra curricular activities, I become sad. My children don’t do anything special. Well, there’s cheerleading for Zoe, but, well, OK, no. Scratch that. I’ll count the cheerleading. She enjoys it and I’m paying for it, so I may as well include it. So that’s one. ONE activity. The other two don’t do anything. They come home from school and do homework and have dinner and maybe use the computer a bit, maybe we dance, but that’s it.

When I was my oldest daughter’s age, I had multiple lessons: violin, gymnastics, dance (ballet, tap AND jazz HELLO), theatre, ice skating. I think there may have even been a year or two of tennis, volleyball, and soccer. Am I failing my children by not having them in extracurricular activities, let alone team-oriented ones? I don’t mean the whole soccer mom thing where everyone is tired and rushing home to eat before a practice, but a normal activity once or twice a week. Here’s a secret that’s not a secret anymore because I’m about to tell you: I hate doing things during the week. If I could find three different classes (because of course none of them would want to do the same thing at the same time in the same class) on Saturday morning, we’d be good.

At my 12-year-old’s annual checkup yesterday, the doctor asked her what activities she was in and I tried my best to sink into my chair. I wanted it to swallow me up and make me invisible. “I’m going to join the dance club when it starts again this month and I run with a girls only group when it gets warm.” These are future things, not things she’s doing right now. She does nothing right now after school or on weekends by way of enrichment other than read All The Books.

I had her look in the program guide for winter activities and nothing appealed to her. If it’s not fashion, sewing, or drawing, she’s not interested. I found a sewing class on Saturday mornings and I know she’d love it but I want her to be moving. I want her to take a dance class even if it’s what’s considered hip hop these days. As long as there’s nothing played with lyrics like let me lick you down, or drop that ass, back that ass up, let me see your ass — you know, typical lyrics — I’m good. Dance away. And the boy. He’d LOVE a tumbling class, I know it. So, why, then, are they doing nothing? It’s because everything is during the week. Zoe’s cheerleading practices are twice a week but they’re at the school and that’s all of 7 minutes away. The other things? There’s driving and the stopping and the going of the driving and the waiting and the trying not to stay on my phone the whole time they’re in class AND OH MY GLOB I’M THE PROBLEM.

I am hindering their social and skill development because I dislike weeknights. I also dislike crabby kids and I know full damn well that’s what I’d wind up with. We are so routine-oriented that I’m afraid to upset it. At the same time THIS ROUTINE SUCKS. It’s the same thing day after day after day after irritating night becomes day. We need something new and unfortunately, I think that newness will only come during the week. I am fighting it (like I’m fighting the realization that it’s January and camp(s) registration starts this month. NO, IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. JANUARY) but I know it needs to happen. It’s not just the breaking of routine (or the subsequent late dinners, later bed times, whiny kids at night because dinner is late and whiny kids in the morning from not enough sleep); the kids need to experience…something else. I feel badly for having kept them from activities this long and I want to make it up to them (by forcing one or more of them to take piano.) I would just truly rather do all of my making up on Saturday afternoons.

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  1. Have they asked for lessons or classes etc? Are you feeling this way from mommy peer pressure?
    I love that your children aren’t crammed with activities! Have you met those types of kids?
    Nightmare. The kids need down time too. To day dream, to use their imagination, to just be kids and not be over scheduled kids.
    If you and I were forced to do all these things plus work we would be bat shit crazy.
    just my humble opinion of course and I don’t know shit as we all know.

  2. Don’t beat yourself to it – if the trade off is whiny kids, and the kids are happy now – you are doing the right thing for not insisting on extracurricular activities. Socialization can happen in school yard and in neighbourhood, rare are the lasting socializations coming from extracurriculars ALONE. I don;t see you as a problem, I see you as a wonderful mother that knows what kids need most: quiet play time and enough of sleep. Don’t give into competitiveness, you are doing just fine.

  3. That would be so hard! I like routine too, so I don’t blame you for not wanting to upset it. But as long as they’re happy, who cares?

  4. My kids are the champions of the after school activities. They do a lot! And we do it because they like it. They are very very social and they are of that grop of people who enjoy a good endorphin rush (I am not one of those people, but my husband is).

    I go back and forth between wanting it during the week and having my weekends free and vice versa. I don’t mind the activities during the week so much – we have our routine – I just get twitchy if we are not home by 8:00

    You will figure it out though – just do what is right for your family!

    • See, Heather? I think my/our problem is that I haven’t given them the opportunity to find out if their very sociable or not. But. No sooner than I posted this did dance at school for my oldest start and she’s said she’s interested in piano (did I also mention I don’t like paying for things? Ha. We are so not gonna get far.) Anyway, if it’s something they’re genuinely interested in, I’m all for paying for it (unless it’s for cheer uniforms that they won’t even be able to keep. I am still bitter.)

  5. Crystal Brooks says:

    I struggle with whats too much and whats too little for Terrion. Left up to him he would do EVERYTHING, EVERYDAY. But then you end with a crabby child that you are unable to wake and get dressed for school the next day. Oh and he eats sooo much (not quite sure that has anything to do with the number of his activities). Over the holiday time when all the activities were on break he inquired as to by we were going straight home after I picked him up from aftercare. Anyway, balance is key in everything. If the routine is boring, change it but not so much that every kid is in football, hockey, gymnastics and basketball. Yea, I need balance……

    • Um, all of those? I’m trying to get one in dance, one in piano, and one in tumbling. I cannot do All Of The Things. I want them well rounded, I do. But…

      And yeah, the days Zoe has cheer she comes home like feedmefeedmefeedme I’ma die.

  6. I understand the dilemma – I have three kids and the older two both have atleast one thing they do every season except for fall. And everthing (basketball, flag football, tackle, ballet, gymnastics) involves weeknights AND weekends. Even with just one each, it does get exhausting. And really, it’s no fun getting up early on saturday. My daughter’s ballet class this winter is at 11:45 which is a relief because it used to be 9:45 which was especially painful on cold mornings! Anyway, I understand that you want them to try things but it’s equally important to have time to relax as a family.

    • It is painful for me to get to work by 9 on cold mornings, so Saturdays would be even harder even though they’re my preferred day to do All The Things.

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