Struggling Under the Weight of Schedules

This year, by which I mean the variety of year that begins in September, we are a much busier family.  My eldest has tried out for every sport offered at his school, which has meant more early mornings and after-school practices.  We’ve added select hockey to the slotted obligations of the week, and this has played havoc with my beloved routine of reading aloud to all the boys every night.  When we don’t manage it, the missed time weighs heavily on me.  There are the fixed times for swimming and chess and the moving pieces of playdates and parties.  The big boys are both in after-school math enrichment, which means not only the week night it takes up, but the homework that must be done on other nights of the week.  I’ve tried to keep that homework out of our weekends, but sometimes it does just end up there, and on Sunday we must face the week’s undigested lump of things to do. 

We live by charts and schedules, and I’m tottering under the weight of those shaded blocks of time, the weight of what they add up to and what we might have lost by committing to all of them.

As busy as I feel, I always manage to think that other people are more busy and manage it with more grace and efficiency.  It seems to me that other people make it look so much more weightless, this thing called life.  And I am under no illusions; I know that it will only get busier.  One of us is still only three.  My mother-in-law told me today that when her twin boys were born, the youngest of five brothers, the three older boys had a combined total of between 15 and 21 hockey games or practices in a week.  She looked forward to the weeks with only 15.  My husband already lives at the rink, and that’s with only two.

What is so difficult to keep in mind as we make our way through each solid, shaded block of time is how fragile and impermanent these days really are.  This great, solid mass of the family calendar actually rests on nothing so firm that it can be called a block or a chunk or a lump.  What heavy words we use, what weight we feel, for something so light and fleeting. 


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4 thoughts on “Struggling Under the Weight of Schedules

  1. Hi Natalie:

    I had four kids and finally had to limit each one to 2 activities – that made 8, which was enough. Not sure anyone does it with grace and efficiency – I sure didn’t. Nothing graceful about trying to squish little bodies into snowsuits to get them in the car in time to drop off and pick up kids. Some families may make it look graceful from the outside, but on the inside they’re just as frazzled.

    The good thing about limiting is it forces them to choose what’s most important to them. The other great invention was carpooling…

  2. Hello Natalie,

    While I am only a mother of one with another on the way and not a seasoned mom of three as you and the other Mothers, I do have a little something to share about the level of activities you speak of. I spent my first year shuttling my kid from activity to activity, the same way my nephews are shuttled as bigger kids. I believed that each child needed a busy, full schedule to keep them happy. But at some point I had to ask myself as I ask you now, are you all truly happy being so busy? You speak of losing your beloved nightly reading time, about having to do homework on Sunday nights, and from the sound of your post it seems you are not happy about the fullness of schedule of your family.

    Sometimes I believe we cram in too much. Between family and child activities, sports and errands and work and all the other things that come up, children have too much to do. Without time to day dream, have free play and just be children – to discover and explore without the confines of structured activities – children tend to lose out on part of the precious time that is childhood.

    I don’t mean to criticize and I really hope I am not sounding mean, this is just something I have a deep sentiment about.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Momma Pea. I agree that quiet family time is essential. I am very protective of that time when we are not at the rink, and I am very careful not to let other things begin to chip away at what to me is bliss: relaxing at home with no committments. It is such a joy to see the boys building with Lego, creating stories with Playmobil, building forts and snuggling up with me to read. I think my tone of regret in my post comes from a realization last night that these days do go quickly, and I’ve got to stop thinking of them like days to survive and more like days to relish.

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