Staying on top of a family’s schedule all starts with the planning of the activities in which your children will take part. While one may not require a Ph.D. in organization, it’s crucial to put some thought into your choices.
- Start with your child. Where do your child’s interests lie? If you don’t involve your child in the discussion about activities, chances are they won’t last longer than a week or two without asking to never, ever, ever go back.With the above in mind, ensure you and your child know what the program truly entails and how long they are committing to it. Ask for a free trial class to see if this is something that your child really will enjoy. And ensure you read the small print. Are you registering for one session or are you registering for an entire year? Are there drop-out fees?
- Location. location. location. With my kids, the location of a class has always been a major consideration in choosing an activity. While my daughter was trying to sell me on the merits of a dance school 30 kilometres away from our home, I decided to choose one less than one kilometre away. Broadway dreams can be realized close to home, too! An even better geographical choice for some activities is right in your own home. We have had guitar and singing teachers come right to our house for the same price as taking a course at a studio. And while one child is practicing guitar, I can help another with their homework (win-win!).Keep in mind the timing of all activities, and if possible, try to schedule multiple activities at the same place at the same time. It’s not always doable but the one session in which I managed to have all three of my children in the pool with different teachers at the same time, I thought I had died and gone to scheduling heaven.
- Don’t over-schedule. This sounds easy but when your child decides that the NHL is their destiny, it’s easy to get caught up in the rush of the dream and register for power skating, shooting classes, one-on-one stick handling drills, etc. on top of games and practices. And when you couple that schedule with that of another child who dances twice a week, plays soccer, does pottery and plays the piano, it’s easy for the whole family’s schedule to be over-crammed. Breathe deeply and prepare to say no to a few activities. For the sake of your wallet and remembering that your family can only be in a certain number of places in the week, it’s important to limit activities and to make time for family, relaxation, and unstructured play.
Exposure to and participation in a variety of activities is ultimately an enriching experience for children. Kids develop new areas of interest, acquire multiple skills, and build self esteem.