By Carole Montgomery. Last week I was talking to a mom who was trying to figure out how to get her kids to all of their after-school and weekend activities. She and her husband looked exhausted. One daughter had soccer at 8am, the son had baseball try-outs at 9am and the youngest was taking a dance class at 11am. All on the same day!
I admit, when my son was younger we had him in Little League. He tried everything though: soccer, basketball and even tap dancing. His dad loved baseball so of course he ended up there. Baseball took up our whole lives for about seven years. I’m lucky I only had one kid. If I had more, the younger kids would have been slugs. No-way would I have been able to juggle, or afford, to do everything we did for one kid for two or three or more! All the equipment and travel costs add up – extracurricular activities are not cheap. When we moved back to NYC, there must have been a dozen bats of different sizes I gave away. (Note to new parents, all the stuff you buy your kid that they have to have will end up at Goodwill, trust me.)
Here are a few rules to keep in mind about managing your child’s activities:
- Be on time to pick up your child. I was team mom for all of my son’s teams and you’d be surprised how many parents must have thought we were running a babysitting service! The Little League rules state if a parent doesn’t pick up a child after an hour, the supervising adults are allowed to drop them at the nearest police station. Why on earth would you do that to your child!? So just be on time.
- Make sure you bring snacks and liquids for your child. The same parents who showed up late would also not give their kid anything to drink during the game. We lived in Las Vegas the entire time my son played baseball. We had 116 degree summers, kids aren’t camels, you know. But of course I was the mom that brought a cooler of Gatorade. I should have charged parents – I really should have – it would’ve paid for all the baseball fees. Something to think about…
- Come to a game/event whenever you can. So many parents never show up to anything and your kid will remember that way more than actually showing up. I went to everything but my kid still zings me with the few events I couldn’t make it to. Learn from my few mistakes. Show up for your kid.
- Understand that these are kids playing or performing. No offense to any child or parent, but the chances of your offspring being the next Derek Jeter, Bob Fosse or Pele are pretty slim. After school and weekend activities are just that: something fun for your child to be apart of and learn to work together as part of a team. The stories of crazed parents attacking other crazed parents for the dumbest reasons could fill pages and pages of books. It’s your child’s activity, not a gaping opportunity for you to live vicariously through them or to relive your childhood. You’re the adult, grow up a bit.
I do wonder, as I look back on those days, if even just the one sport was too much. We had practices, touring teams, play-offs and more. In the end, it was just a way to get out of the house for a few hours and help my son become who he is, but you always have to keep in mind if the sacrifices you have to make are worth it…are they?