Every time I walk by my calendar on the kitchen counter, I break out in a sweat. The scribble in each square is taunting me, as if to say “I own you lady, for the next 6 weeks.”
I have officially entered the most hellish time of the year – where wild-eyed parents of multiple, school-aged children have to figure out who is getting where and when. And like some activity addict in a 12-step program, I take it one day at a time. Don’t talk to me about next week. I’m still figuring out today.
The 8-year-old plays baseball, which requires practices twice a week and will ramp up to 2-3 games a week. (Long, very long games. Like watching grass grow, bless their little minor league hearts) The 10-year-old plays soccer three times a week and she does ballet. Which is twice a week. The 5-year-old? Well, she lives in the van that I pilot all over our city and constantly begs for iPad access to play Angry Birds Star Wars. She also wants to know when it’s her turn to play soccer. “Never,” I say.
The timing is the worst part. Everything seems to happen around the same time. 6pm. Dinner? Who has time to eat? Dinner turns into a meal on wheels. Lots of hard boiled eggs, crackers and fruit in baggies. In the van. There’s not an air freshener alive that can combat the sweaty egg smell combined with foot odor in my vehicle by the end of the week. Homework has also become a van activity. I helped my daughter study for a history test while sitting in baseball bleachers last week. Throw in my part-time job and the fact my husband works evenings, and I’m an over scheduled, frazzled mess.
I’ve had friends suggest a color-coded white board in my kitchen. Everyone can see it, everyone knows what’s coming up. Still others say I should coordinate my schedule with my husband in the “cloud”. (All the cloud has done for me is mix my husbands contacts with mine, so his college roommate’s number pops up first when I start typing in J. Annoying) Plus there’s something about seeing it actually written down that helps it sink it. Siri can’t help with this.
Perhaps they shouldn’t do all of these activities, you say. Just pick one and stick with it. I get it. My son will never be a pro baseball player and my daughter will never be in a World Cup soccer match. Unfortunately, each activity seems to have the demands of Olympic training. And it makes it kind of hard for kids to pick what activity or sport they like – if each activity is so all consuming they don’t have time to try anything else.
The two things that save me are carpools and my parents. And a glass of wine at the end of the day, er, week. (Ok, that’s three things) I’ve realized you have to do activities with friends because sharing the driving duties is the only way to survive. I’m also extremely lucky there are grandparents around the corner to pick up a dancing child, while I’m delivering a third baseman across town. My parents smile, laugh and seem to remember my years of soccer, dance, tennis and show choir (yes, show choir – don’t judge my jazz hands). They made it happen for their four girls, without grandparents. And somehow it all worked. My mother likes to remind me, “You can only do what you can do. If they’re late, or if they miss something – they’ll live.”
Simple enough. And in mid-June I’ll be home free.
But last week, after an especially rousing game of catch my son asked,”Hey mom, am I going to try out for travel baseball?”