Who says you can’t learn from T.V.? You remember on Friends when Monica, when catering an event, said, “I planned and I planned and I planned …. Only I forgot to plan to make the time to get it all done!” I probably should’ve paid more attention to her the first time I saw that episode (or the tenth or fortieth.) Now that it is spring and we are full-on into our family’s activity schedule, the business is wearing on me (again.) Just recently we dropped one after-school activity in order to free up a portion of our school week.
Finding balance in these activities is hard. I adore watching my kids explore new activities – from dance to basketball to trapeze class. (And about five more, but I didn’t want to bore you yet.) I can literally watch them grow in character as they take on new challenges of scoring goals on the soccer field and using facial expression in musical theatre class (a no brainer for my five year old, but a conscious decision for my reserved seven year old.)
As rewarding as it is to witness their feats, the back of my mind eventually says, “hey! Why aren’t we playing outside in our yard today?!” I think some parents make it much easier on themselves – one activity per kid. Done. Between my husband and me, we desire for our kids to participate in opposite types of activity. I want them to try out dance, gymnastics, and trapeze; he wants them to play basketball, soccer, golf, and piano. Ok, I’ll give him the piano without a fight. I never learned an instrument and think of music as a foreign language I can’t even begin to comprehend. Luckily basketball season and soccer season don’t overlap so it practically boils down to one activity.
Not only are our kids’ schedules demanding, but I’ve added on a few of my own activities and tasks to our short Monday-Friday window. I’ve taken on tutoring several groups in German which I absolutely love, but if you look on paper, there are not a lot of 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. time segments in a week! Pretty much if anyone asks me to teach German, I’m going to automatically say yes, but maybe I should program my iphone to say, “your schedule is complete at the moment, Jody!”
Last year I spent a lot of time beating myself up for never getting around to going to yoga and not getting on my road bike. It took discussing all these “failures” with a friend to start to consider if I was mistakenly thinking a day has more than twenty-four hours in it! And I wasn’t giving myself credit for “getting around to” the things that I really love, like having coffee with my Father-in-law (best two hour coffee you could have!) and for meeting my friend for our Kaffeeklatsch, our hour of speaking German together.
The Pope schedule at the moment is like a juggler steadily juggling three balls. It’s in a groove, busy, but nice and steady. But throw a “make-up” class into the mix and that’s where the juggler is being thrown an extra ball from the lady standing ten feet away. Pros make it look easy, but I’d be the amateur juggler, balls spilling all over the floor and me running around picking up one at a time, then staring at them, not sure how to get them air borne again.
I’ve tried to learn from mistakes of those around me, including my mom and sister (never wrap your retainer in a napkin or it might get accidentally thrown away!) My mom at one time had an impromptu twenty minute conversation with someone who called or came by which made us late to wherever we were headed and she was so mad about it. I asked, “Why didn’t you just say you can’t talk right now?” “Because I’m nice!” she screamed. About a fifteen minute monologue later, I realized she was actually just mad at herself. And I vowed to try to pay attention to my own nice-ness. While I think I’ve been pretty good about not saying “yes” just to be nice (except for one dumb pity date I went on,) I think I have room for improvement when it comes to practicality. I’m glad I’ve taken on all things I’m excited about, but I ought to crack open that lovely mommy calendar the hubs got me and show myself what my days look like on paper.
We are going to enjoy our busy Spring, some days more hectic than others (those usually are the ones that involve a child shimmying into a pair of dance tights.) And I will personally hibernate on the days the deck is yellow from pollen. Since I’ve already booked this family silly for the time being, I’ll look ahead to next fall and try to set myself limits on how many activities we can take on between the four of us. But the real kicker is … as busy as we are now, when it becomes Summer we all know what phrase will be uttered the most …”Mom, I’m bored!”