When our children were little, the family schedule was easy to plan. Weekends were reserved for day trips and long get-togethers with friends and their families. We never really thought about who the children would play with. After all, when kids are little, they like to play with other little kids regardless of gender. And even if the children were not friends, per se, they would play together while their parents schmoozed and laughed and had the opportunity to catch up. Their interactions were usually limited to the type of game they were playing.
And, we could all spend hours together. We co-parented each other’s children while we too had the opportunity to pool a meal and just have a good time.
Back then, weekends were uncomplicated and fun. Often spontaneous as well.
In addition to choosing our children’s friends, we also chose their activities, or extra curricular programs. The never-ending baby groups, dance and music classes and swimming were all staples in my house, for all three of my children for as long as I can remember.
That is, until, my children started to grow up. Over time, the interests of my children began to evolve. They began having opinions about how they wanted to spend their free time and with whom they chose to spend it. The nerve! And, how dare they contradict the opinions and convenience of their parents?
Suddenly, their friendships became more deliberate, and their interests not only different from what we as parents had in mind, but from each other as well. They all want to try a little of this and a little of that. All fabulous in terms of exposing themselves to new interests and putting themselves out there, but definitely more difficult for parents to easily manage the family schedule.
Times like these become exceptionally complicated for parents. In our situation, three children, three different ages and stages. And, for the most part, they all like different activities and sports and there is virtually no overlap between them.
So, how do parents cope with complicated family schedules and diverse interests?
How can parents spread themselves to be able to promote the emerging interests of their children without completely drowning themselves?
Practical and Helpful Tips to Managing the Family Schedule:
On weekends, we take turns alternating between each child. God forbid one child feels like mommy or daddy is spending too much time with the others, etc. We try to balance. In between all the rest of it, we attempt to get the regular household chores done. Often these tasks fall to the bottom of the list and end up getting done when our children are in bed.
We try to remember that our schedules are unpredictable and so are our children.
But, most importantly, we try to remember that our schedules are unpredictable and so are our children. Through it all, although difficult, we try to let things roll off. We just do our best. Life gets in the way, and throws us curveballs sometimes. If we can get through the day, and everyone has survived, then we count ourselves lucky and move on.
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