why are extra-curricular activities so challenging?
Photo above: Percy is eating from his Mess Kit, kindly sent from long-time blog reader, Emma
This post started with a phone call to Bron, my editor over at Mumtastic. We were chatting about stories and deadlines and before we knew it we were down the rabbit hole of the motherhood/work juggle, lamenting the sheer absurdity that is a normal day in our lives. Wow, we do a lot but what on earth can we let go of to make it a bit less rushed?
A few hours later Bron published this post which had many, many women nodding their heads, offering words of solidarity, admitting to their very own overwhelm and anxiety. And as she described her children’s extra-curricular activities I had a bit of a lightbulb moment of my own (thanks for that, Bron).
You see, the driving around of an afternoon to various activities is one of the most challenging parts of parenthood for me. And what’s most alarming about this scenario is that I keep things on the activity front to an absolute minimum. Che does drama, Poet does dancing and they both do a swimming lesson – spread out over three afternoons in the middle of the week. I also have lots of help from the grandparents so in no way am I doing it all alone.
For a while there I was questioning why it was so difficult and then yesterday, I realised – it’s so much more than the activity. One single afternoon activity requires the following: afternoon tea prep, a spare change of clothes/costume, school pick-up, driving to the activity, waiting in the car (sometimes wrangling Percy), driving home, delayed witching hour, late dinner, chaotic bath/bed time. The 1-hour activity takes, on average, over three hours from start to finish.
Perhaps I’m still a novice and things will get easier but I can’t help but think of years to come when the kids’ social lives get busier and I inevitably take on the role of taxi-mum. If I’m completely honest, it doesn’t look that appealing.
Just this afternoon I was chatting to a friend at school pick-up and he said he always questions the sustainability of an activity when he finds it challenging. As in: is this sustainable for the whole family? How can we make this work for everyone’s wellbeing? Are we in this for the long haul or will we crumble under the pressure? These are such good questions to continually ask ourselves as parents.
As our children grow and start engaging in various social and extra-curricular activities, we must adapt to the changes, find new ways of doing things and reassess if it’s all too hard. One thing I definitely know is that come next year, when Poet starts school, I’ll say no to all activities for that first term. Because if I remember anything from Che’s first term at school it’s this: school is enough – there is no space for anything else.
Do you find this part of parenthood challenging or is it just me?