Monday, 28 April 2014

Surviving After School Activities … or not as is usually the case here

Whoosh - just like that the holidays are over.
School is back today for my lot, together with all of the activities and sports that they are involved in.
Our kids can choose 2 sports/activities each - eg basketball and piano.

This seemed a very reasonable number:

  • Kids not overloaded but allowed to join teams and follow interests, 
  • budget not completely destroyed and 
  • everyone is happy.

I have 3 kids which means 6 activities and some of these have training nights as well as playing days.
I didn't think this through.
This gives us 8 or more after school things during a week - madness!
My small kids aren't big enough to stay home alone so everyone has to go everywhere to drop off, pick up, watch, cheer etc.
And I'm trying to keep an afternoon/night free because I think that is just as important as being involved in things.
In there somewhere is homework, readers, play dates and dinner preparation.
It is making my head hurt.

I'm whinging aren't I, sorry.

I'm not alone.  Millions of us are all doing versions of the same thing.
Some are great at it and then there are the strugglers like me who get to a point where everything feels like a complete mess and we're chasing our tails.

To be honest, when it all goes to pieces I know I'm not a nice Mum.
I'm stressed, grumpy, disorganised, impatient and not nice to be around.
I don't want my kids to remember me as that mum.

I need some strategies!

So here is my attempt at getting it together…
(listed here so that I can review it if/when the wheels fall off)

Get organised!
I have a list of everyone's activities stuck to the noticeboard.
At a glance I know what is on after school - this is something that you would think I would remember after a couple of weeks but I have been known to forget things…even the names of my kids!

Plan my meals
Not my strength. I tend to open the fridge at 5pm and make something out of what I can find. I know this will help even if it is only for the really busy days.

Cook earlier, freeze and/or reheat on the busy nights
My wise cousin (mum of 4) told me the best days were when she cooked dinner at lunch time. She is a wise girl.

Have the kids take responsibility for organisation too
They need to have their gear in a bag at the door before they leave for school (we will see how this one goes…) so that after school we are all good to go.

Use our waiting time
There is "waiting time" for those of us not playing/doing the activity.  We will try to use this time to do readers etc.
I'm packing a "waiting bag" (my book, knitting, kid's book, colouring pencils and some paper) so I relax and enjoy the wait time either by myself or with my small people.

It is OK to be late sometimes.  I am going to be kinder to myself (and my kids).

Ask for help if you need it.
My support network is on the other side of the country so this is something I don't often do here in WA.
I will look at car pooling with other mum's to share the load.

Enjoy this time
Don't let anxiety and stress rob me of the fun that I could be having with my kids as they learn and enjoy new things.
I should have also included get off the computer and do the things on the list!!!
If you have any strategies that work for you I would love to hear them too.
Hope your school term is great.


  1. The slow cooker is your friend. The slow cooker is your friend. The slow cooker is your friend.

  2. Oh boy, I hear you! I could have written that post!
    This year (so far) we only have 2 after school activities for Mr 7.
    Mr 9 and 11 did not want to participate in anything and I am fine with that as last year they did and it was very stressful as no one liked coming along to watch and wait at other peoples activities.
    I have a planner white board near the back door so everyone can check what they need to take to school that day.
    As its a white board, we can add special things like excursions, party and so on.
    I have a cupboard that the bubby picked up at a garage sale, It has 4 largish draws and 2 open shelves at the top. Each boy has a draw for their school stuff (readers, homework, music) when they unpack their bags, their stuff goes in there, and they get it out as needed on certain days and it gets rid of all the crap on the kitchen table.
    The fourth draw is for pens, pencils and so on. It is working really well - so far.
    I cook a lot in advance, and cant live without a meal plan. I cant open the fridge at 5 and wonder what we will have, or we would all have toast for tea!
    My oldest is being very independent and riding around town to do jobs, go to friends house and things he wants to do, so that helps with the running around.
    I love your blog post Jenny - good luck with your plan.

  3. This is us too!! i use lots of your strategies, a bag of things to do including a deck of cards, readers done for two while one does basketball training and meals cooked and planned in advance as much as possible.
    We have just finished basketball season so it will all change again next season... let's hope the times all match up.


Go on, leave a message. It will make my day!