Have you ever had one of those weeks where you feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of your kids' schedules? The day-to-day is jam-packed with activities, sports practices, and extra lessons. This week alone my daughter had school, nightly soccer practice, swim lessons, multiple birthday parties, and a play date or two thrown in the mix. Did I mention she's only 3 years old?
With such a full schedule, I start to feel like less of a parent and more like a glorified personal assistant. I knew there had to be a better way to organize my kids' schedule. And slowly, I've implemented a system to cut back on the daily chaos that had consumed my family's calendar.
I started by limiting the number of activities my kids were involved in each season. I let them pick one major sport or creative outlet to focus their time and energy on. There are circumstances where an ongoing lesson such as music or swimming will overlap, but as long as I know that when we're starting the new season, it helps to not overwhelm our time. I also learned to ask for help from other parents - sharing rides or swapping a snack week has saved my sanity many a time.
I'm also very realistic with our family's time these days. I'll search for programs or teams with reasonable practice and game schedules to help set us up for success. Two double-header games that take up an entire weekend will probably get a hard pass from this mom . . . at least until my kids are older and decide on their own to seriously commit to a sport or instrument.
The number one best way I've found to stay on top of the packed calendar is to live by the "Do It Now" mentality. The moment I learn about a new practice schedule or weekly swim lesson, it goes on my calendar on my phone. I always look at it in monthly view so I can assure there aren't any conflicts or prior commitments for that particular four-week period. I keep one main calendar, with each family member's events in different colors. I make an event with the activity name, time it's happening, and any important details the minute I find out about it, so there's no chance it'll slip my mind. This prevents me from double booking or overloading our calendar with activities that leave both the kids and us parents exhausted.
At the end of the day, I don't want my kids to burn out due to an overpacked schedule and staying as organized as possible keeps my own stress levels down. My goal is to add more quality extracurricular activities to my kids' lives, not more quantity. I want to worry less about how I'm going to juggle this week's chaotic schedule and instead, focus on how loud I'm cheering on the sideline at my daughter's soccer game. That way everyone wins!