Extracurricular activities provide children with ample opportunities for growth and development. It allows them to develop a talent or skill while encouraging socialization with their peers at the same time, and for busy moms, it’s also a few more hours with the kids out of the house.
But what if you have a mini-van full of kids that have different extracurricular activities? Is there a way where you can manage every child’s extracurricular activities on top of your other responsibilities at home and work? Of course, the answer is always yes.
Here are some ways you can manage your kids’ extracurricular activities with your sanity intact:
1. Create a master schedule
Buy a good old kitchen calendar or download a planner on your smartphone to organize your household’s schedule. If you’re relying on sticky notes or your memory stores to remember which kid has a session with the piano instructor and which kid needs to go to soccer practice, it can be easy to lose track of things amidst the chaos.
Use different colored pens for each child to help you remember extracurricular activities better. If their activities don’t fit in the regular household calendar, get a separate one for extracurricular activities only. Not only does an organized schedule help you keep track of who needs to go to where, but it will also help your kids prepare for their activities on their own.
2. Encourage independence
When your kids are old enough to do so, let them pack their own soccer bag or dance outfit. At the same time, encourage them to check the master schedule every day so that they can keep track of their own activities and remember what to bring. Most kids quickly develop independence when you let them do things themselves. Moreover, having your kids take care of their activity-related stuff will give you more time to focus on other things.
3. Limit activities
You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every activity that your children want to do, especially if you have multiple kids. Perhaps you don’t have the budget for everything they want to do, or there is not enough time to shuttle them back and forth from the venue. Explain the limits to your children and encourage them to pick one activity that they’re passionate about.
Alternatively, have children do an extracurricular activity at home if applicable. For example, if they want to learn how to paint, buy painting materials and have them watch tutorials instead of sending them to a class. If they want to play an instrument, download teaching materials or teach them yourself.
4. Lump kids with the same activity
Encourage your children to take up the same activity as their siblings. In this way, you can free up more time since you don’t have to take every single one to a different venue or take care of their specific activity-related needs. Apart from being practical, lumping your kids together in one activity will help strengthen their bond as siblings.
5. Take advantage of carpooling
Link up with other parents in your neighborhood with kids that are in the same activities as yours. Organize a carpool and watch just how much time (and gas) you can save by taking turns driving the kids to their activities.
6. Don’t force activities on them
Parents shouldn’t force anything on their children, including interests, skills, and extracurricular activities. Your children will naturally gravitate to what they want, whether it be music, art, sports, or other passions, and you should let them find their own ‘thing.’
With that in mind, don’t pressure your children to take extracurricular activities just because the other kids are doing it or because you don’t want them cooped up in the house. Instead, help them find their passion and support them in their interests as much as possible.
7. Know when to draw the line
If your kids’ extracurricular activities are compromising their health, academics, and home life, this is where you step in. Help them find ways on how they can manage different aspects of their life without giving up on their passion or hobby. However, let them know that it’s okay to let go of an activity if it is not enjoyable for them anymore. They might just be doing it to please you but have lost interest long ago.
Extracurricular activities are highly beneficial during children’s developmental years. However, they can be a bit overwhelming for parents with multiple kids who, on top of managing activities, have to take care of everything else.
Thus, if your kids are starting to take up after-school activities, use these strategies to maintain the balance at home and keep everyone grounded.