September 26 13

Hip Hop. Acro. Skating. Track and field. Baseball. Swimming. Hebrew school. Acting.

I’m tired just writing this out. Our weeks are busy, our days are even busier. We are at the rink twice, the dance studio twice, the pool, the school, the road. We are somewhere, everywhere. Every day of the week. There are nights that we have dinner in the car, or at 4:30 in the afternoon. There are nights when Emily does homework at the ice rink or Isabella does homework at the studio. It’s chaotic, to say the least. We are what some people might call overscheduled.

Does this kind of schedule look familiar to you?

When I was a kid, I took ballet for years and years and years. You’ve seen this picture before—it’s a fan favorite around here, and not just because it proves that my love of hoodies and tutus and half-grown-out bangs started early in life.

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And there were the many years that I took piano in the basement of old Mr. Kahn’s house, and his tendency to shout obscenities at me in a thick German accent frightened me into being a really good piano player. There are no pictures of this because those were years I attempted to forget. kräftig! fröhlich! schnell! I still have nightmares about what Mr. Kahn’s actual role in the second world war was. But, I can play a jaunty tune on the old ivories. No really, I can. It’s like riding a bike. Once you have been taught by a scary German, you never forget. Or something.

But that’s it. Piano. Ballet. I was passionate about neither.

I wish I had learned to swim so I could do something other than, just, well, mostly float in a pool. I wish I had danced past age 12—I wish I hadn’t been so self-conscious about my pre-teen awkward body, and not refused to don a leotard sans underpants. I wish I had run track. I wish I had played softball, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, football, something.

But I get it now. Activities are expensive. Activities are time-consuming. Activities are kind of a pain in the heiney for parents. My mom worked full time and had three kids. We played the piano. We took ballet. That was a lot.

I’m curious how parents decide what activities their children will do. Or don’t do. Are the child-led? Are they location-led? Are they parent-led? Are they convenience-led?

Swimming was a no-brainer for us, being a life-saving skill and all. And Hebrew school was a no-brainer for us, being a soul-saving skill and all.

Emily auditions and acts (as you know) and she also dances, because she was dancing in front of our mirrored hallways before she could speak. It was only natural that at age 2, she was pink tutu-ing it with her friends at the local community center. And it’s only natural that now she’s still dancing acro and hip hop twice a week. She’s good and she loves it.

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Isabella ice skates, because she was balancing her chubby little body on skates before she could speak. It was only natural that she was toe-picking on the ice at a local community center. And it’s only natural that now she’s on that ice jumping, twisting, and turning twice a week in a pre-competitive program. She’s good and she loves it.

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Josh played hockey, because that’s what good Canadian boys do. *Smirk*

Only Josh absolutely hated hockey. He whined every week, he didn’t care about getting better, he didn’t rejoice in wins, or even care when his team lost. He was cold, he was bored, he was annoyed. And yet, because good Canadian boys play hockey, Josh played hockey. For years. But then we moved to Atlanta for a year and guess what good southern kids don’t do? Go on, guess.

And that’s how we found ourselves in little league. And that’s how we found out that Josh loved baseball. My son is a baseball player. He is a great runner, a great ball thrower, a great batter. He gets better and better every single week, every single year. And most of all, HE LOVES IT. He’s made some great friends. He looks forward to going and he is all smiles when he bursts through the door to tell me about singles and doubles and infield home runs. He cares about how he plays, he cares about getting better. He cares about his team.

He is passionate about it.

And this summer he  was passionate all the way to an unlikely mosquito league championship win over the stacked first-place team.

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All three of my children have them. Each is different, unique, awesome. Just like they are.

Are they overscheduled? Perhaps.

Are they over-happy? Always.

It’s worth it.


  1. I think that if we can all begin to lighten up and see that what works for one family works for that family. We don’t have to compete, keep up, or judge. I have three kids, none of them are interested in organized activities yet. They play hard, study hard, and do things that are different from what other families do. It’s awesome. Your life is awesome.

    Getting to make these decisions, to schedule or not schedule, it is a gift.

    Comment by Amanda on September 26, 2013
  2. Wait? Lighten up? I hope you didn’t find this post judgey at all! This is a post about my particular family and what works for us. I would never suggest that what I do is what anyone else should do!

    Comment by Alimartell on September 26, 2013
  3. No, no, no! Between this and Diana Stone’s post about reasons for homeschooling, I think two of the things people get most judgey about are getting a fair shake. People clutch their chests, “Oh, they’re too busy” or “Can you imagine, homeschooling?” I think it’s great to get glimpses into how people decide what is best for them.

    Sorry, intended to be a supportive comment!

    Comment by Amanda on September 26, 2013
  4. I think as long as the kid is happy, and keeps up with school work, there can be no limit to activities (within reason).
    I was like you, I had pretty much one activity (it was a biggie though, riding/competing horses) that was my life as a child/teen and really I only had time for it. Yes I swam, and played tennis, but these were seasonal and also not competive like alot of kids do with every activity they are in these days.

    For the first year in 6 seasons my son is not playing hockey. Mostly because highschool is long days .. 8-4 excluding transport and I’d rather he focus his energy on homework and exams. But .. doesn’t mean he will sit idle, just less ‘scheduled’ by someone else (team sports ugh…). So hockey ‘training’ on weekends on OUR time, piano on ‘our’ time and most of all he will now have time to Snowboard – one of his passions!

    I do agree what works for each family (and kid) is different .. sounds like you have found a great balance too!

    Comment by Sarah Clayton on September 26, 2013
  5. 100%
    Every family is so different. I have just been curious how each family came to be that way, yanno?

    Comment by ali on September 26, 2013
  6. Sounds like its you that’s over scheduled, not them. You see, 3 kids x 3 activities each = 9 runs / 1 parent = 9 runs.

    Comment by Mara on September 26, 2013
  7. Don’t you know how I feel about math homework, Mara?


    Comment by ali on September 26, 2013
  8. Yay for activities! I have such fond memories of all of the things my parents let me do in my childhood:)

    Comment by Scarlet on September 26, 2013
  9. Seven days a week. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Because watching them through tiny windows and up on stages? Worth it. So worth it.

    Comment by Louise on September 26, 2013
  10. Our schedule sounds a lot like yours. We are busy every night of the week between soccer, guitar, and gymnastics. Plus games on weekends and schoolwork…I’m tired just thinking about it! But the kids are happy—I feel like I’m the one doing all the running around! But it’s so worth it and I agree, I wish I’d done more as a kid.

    Comment by Alison on September 28, 2013
  11. I am dying laughing picturing you sitting in some creepy basement playing mary had a little lamb…such an innocent child favourite now forever tainted by a mean german.
    I bet that gem was never sung in your house.
    For us, we asked our son if he wanted to do xyz. He chose hockey and baseball. He likes it. If however he decides that it isn’t for him, we will respect that and allow him to bow out.
    But I think it’s so important that we encourage them to try extracurricular activities.

    Comment by Kimberly on September 28, 2013
  12. I truly truly hope that my kids can find their thing to be passionate about. I feel like it’s such a crap shoot and there’s so much pressure to have them IN it by the time they are 5. As for me I wish I had played more volleyball, been brave enough to try it in college.

    Comment by Jen on October 3, 2013

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