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How to manage extra curricular activities?

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#1 123Babies4Me

Posted 22 March 2018 - 08:22 PM

Thanks so much to everyone who has helped me with my previous topics. I have lots of questions!!

We have an 8,6,4 and 2 yo and no. 5 is due in a few months. Currently the 8 yo is doing after school sport one afternoon, the 4 and 6yo are doing an after school kids club another afternoon, the 8yo is doing his own kids club another afternoon and the 8,6 and 4 yo do swimming lessons on yet another afternoon.

It’s hard work! And I know that with a new baby it will not get easier. So I think we need to re-evaluate. I just hate thinking that my kids won’t get the chance to do things they really want to do.

I was just wondering what everyone else does with extracurriculars? How do you make decisions?

#2 AdelTwins

Posted 22 March 2018 - 08:37 PM

Not me, but parents of 5 kids has other parents take their kids to sports/birthday parties etc. I.e. My kids do tennis, so they might drop him there and then I make sure he gets to class on time.

#3 Seven of Nine

Posted 22 March 2018 - 08:39 PM

When #4 was due I moved a lot of extra curricular activities to Saturdays so that I'd have two parents on deck. Thankfully the extra curriculars my kids were doing were easily moved. Swimming was one that I put on Saturdays. It's a real pain to sit at the side of the pool with a baby who wants to get down, feed, cry, sleep and then getting everyone changed is a massive drama. Move it to Saturday morning.

What about getting in help from other families? When my kids had soccer training in the evenings I often brought team mates home from school with my boys and then their mothers would pick their kids and mine up to take them to training then DH would pick the kids up after work. This meant I could focus on baby and arsenic hour without being in and out of the car. Once bub was a bit older he was happier at soccer training than at home so I used to take everyone and DH used to meet us at the oval after work.

#4 JRA

Posted 22 March 2018 - 09:03 PM

It is incredibly hard for families with more than a couple of children. I know I was one of three, money was always tight, and that is normal, I would hate to miss out as a child simply as I have too many siblings.

I see many families with 4 or so children doing after school activities with their children, with both parents working. If they want to, they can make it work.

#5 pukeko walking

Posted 25 March 2018 - 08:27 AM

No experience whatsoever but my teenage cousin a million years ago had an after-school job taking a family of children to activities and home again. Would something like this work for you? Are any of the activities close enough that someone could walk them/take a bus from school?

#6 amdirel

Posted 25 March 2018 - 08:49 AM

I probably don't qualify as a 'large family', but I am a single parent of 3 busy kids.
Yes I spend all afternoon every afternoon driving around. I tend to not carpool because the uncertainty makes me nervous, I just prefer to rely on myself. Yes it is difficult but *touch wood* we've never had major clashes of times.
Luckily 2 of our activities are flexible with days, so they tend to move around the non-flexible ones. I try to make sure the activities are all very local, so that if I have tight times, I can get there. There are a couple of time clashes at the moment, but my kids are old enough that I can drop off early/pick up late. They whine about it but I don't care!
I also have to drive really efficiently- once you do the drive many times, you figure out which route is quickest, including which lane is quickest at what time of day. You wouldn't think it makes much difference but on the odd occasion someone else (grandparent etc) has driven them, they end up late.

All of that probably sounds really chaotic, but I'm willing to do it all, because my kids love it. I don't want to restrict them, just because of time/money. When I was a kid my parents wouldn't put me in any after school activities at all, despite me asking and asking. I know they were doing their best, but I really feel like I missed out. I still feel that way now. So I'm probably overcompensating now with my kids! But as long as they're enjoying it, that's ok with me.

#7 SeaPrincess

Posted 25 March 2018 - 09:46 AM

I have 3 children and DH works away half the time. You can’t do it all, so you have to find a balance that you are comfortable with. For us, as long as we can usually reciprocate, I accept offers of help. We try to share driving with other families, so when DH is away, my friend picks DS1 up for training, and then when DH is home, he takes the boys. Sometimes another parent will drop off and then I’ll pick up when I get home from work. This morning all 3 of our children are headed in different directions. DS1 has already been picked up, and then this afternoon, I am picking up the same friend to take them both to a birthday party.

#8 l-m-n-o-p

Posted 25 March 2018 - 09:52 AM

I am the youngest in a large family and we didn't do a lot of extra curricular activities - due to the logistics (at least in part). It was also a different generation so less child-focussed.

We did all go to swimming club once a week and anything else was before or after school and on-site so no extra running around was required.

Edited by l-m-n-o-p, 25 March 2018 - 09:52 AM.

#9 anatomicalheart

Posted 25 March 2018 - 10:01 AM

I'm lucky in that a lot of their extra-curriculars are at school, after school. So on a Tuesday afternoon, for example, I have one child doing gymnastics, one doing instrumental, and one doing choir, all at the same time.

They're also limited to the number of activities they're allowed to choose.

That said, it seems to be one of those things that just sucks sometimes.

Edited by TequilaMockingbird, 25 March 2018 - 10:03 AM.

#10 ~Jolly_F~

Posted 25 March 2018 - 10:07 AM

We have 3 kids, DH is away at work for 2 weeks out of 3. So we made a decision that they are allowed to do one activity each per week and we don’t do any that have weekend commitments.

It was the only way we can make him being away, me studying fulltime and kids getting to do any activities work.

#11 ekbaby

Posted 25 March 2018 - 12:45 PM

We only have 3 but DP works FT and I work 4 days. So this year we cut right back on extra activities. Sometimes I feel guilty about it but I believe there are plenty of experts out there saying it’s good for kids to have down time/be bored etc. Personally I think if you can manage it and you/your kids are happy doing heaps of extra curricular then go for it. But if it’s too hard then I don’t believe it is harmful to only do a minimal amount.
Our kids really like having friends over to play after school or on the weekends. Once things have settled with the newborn u might find that easier - not having to drive around, everyone in the one place, if each kid has a friend they are occupied. This meets the kids social needs (one of the reasons for doing extra curricular in the first place) with a lot less running around and more flexibility.
Also with swimming definitely try get their classes on at the same time :)

#12 SMforshort

Posted 25 March 2018 - 01:13 PM

Have a look at some activities that accommodate different ages at the same time.

Little athletics for example has all age groups competing separately but on the same field at the same time.

On weekends, at large pools, you may be able to schedule different swimming lessons at the same time.

Scouts (Cubs from aged 8-11) and Scouts (11-14) may suit multiple siblings born close together.

#13 EsmeLennox

Posted 25 March 2018 - 01:27 PM

If it’s too hard, just don’t do it.
Kids’ club would be the first to go for me.

#14 Franny and Zooey

Posted 25 March 2018 - 01:49 PM

Make dinner in the early afternoon.

Ditch the kids clubs.

After school or weekend sport I think is pretty important for kids, sets them up for life as fit, healthy people who are keen to participate in sport.

#15 liveworkplay

Posted 25 March 2018 - 02:04 PM

I only have 3 kids but DH and I both work full time. Our kids do a combination of basketball (2) athletics(3) hockey (2) swimming (1) water polo (2) AFL (1) I rely heavily on other parents to share the load of drop off and pick ups. My kids are a older, so I can drop and run to juggle things. But being older means they have longer and more training sessions a week then when they were younger. DD1 is in high school so also plays school sport on top of her club stuff after school.

We have reached critical mass and the kids know they cannot pick up something without dropping something else (DD2 dropped hockey this season for AFL)

You can make it work but you need to have a good support network and negotiate days for things that are negotiable.

ETA: We actually avoid weekend commitments and try to get everything out of the way on weekdays. That way everyone has down time from the rat race that is our working/school week.

Edited by liveworkplay, 25 March 2018 - 02:05 PM.

#16 **Tiger*Filly**

Posted 25 March 2018 - 02:22 PM

Does your school have any activities at After School Care? Some of my 4 kids did after school activities through OSCH when I was at work. With 5 kids you’d probably get a reasonable amount of Child Care Benefit so it can work out quite cheap. Of course that’s assuming you have an OSHC that’s relatively easy to get into which ours was.
Otherwise my tip is activities close to home. I’ve always found it more relaxing to walk to activities than to have to pile in the car and drive through traffic. So at various points we’ve done taekwondo, Guides, dancing, swimming, early music classes, soccer, tennis, that the venues were all chosen because they were in walking or cycling distance of where we lived at the time. It means you get some exercise in too at the same time.

#17 lotsofbots

Posted 25 March 2018 - 02:45 PM

I have 6 kids, we have previously had weekend soccer they all played but it took up all day Saturday and 4 after school days for different age group training, Swimming
and music /band.

This year I said no weekend sport. They have started Tennis it’s one afternoon a week if they want a sport that’s it.  I use the slow cooker so a meal is ready when we walk in the door.  

Swimming will be when the school do it, band is one early start morning at school so they go straight in after it.

#18 luke's mummu

Posted 25 March 2018 - 07:10 PM

Not me, but I have a friend who was 1 of 4 siblings and all the kids did little athletics, because it's all at 1 venue and basically the same time for the different age groups.

Scouts/cubs/guides is another option where the groups may run at the same time, or at least 1 after the other.

#19 **Xena**

Posted 25 March 2018 - 07:31 PM

I have 5 but they don't do a lot of activities.
The littlest two do preschool but that's during school hours.
My 10yo does Cheerleading and Tumbling but they are both held at her school so I walk her up after school and my husband picks her up on his way home.
Saturday mornings my husband take the 3 eldest to do archery whilst I stay home with the youngest two :)

Edited by **Xena**, 25 March 2018 - 07:31 PM.

#20 gemgirl

Posted 26 March 2018 - 03:08 PM

We say "one extra-curricular activity per child". My parents said the same. And we try to avoid anything that has extra 'training' etc. Obviously some kids show real skill (eg. they start doing swimming lessons, and perhaps could end up being a competitive swimmer) then you might want to rethink things, but one afternoon or one weekend day a week seems fine to me. We also avoid weekend sports, except for Winter sports, because we tend to like to go away during the warmer months. So, yes, we have some 'rules', but if our kids approached us wanting to do something different, then we'd be open to discussing how we could make it work.

#21 Rubyroo

Posted 26 March 2018 - 04:33 PM

I have 4 kids, 15, 12, 10 and 4, so a bit older than yours.

What works for us is picking sports / activities that they can attend at the same time.  When they were younger we tried to get them in to swimming lessons at the same time, but this was tricky as every time someone progressed we had to try and fit around the available lesson times, so it wasn't always achievable.

As they have gotten older it has gotten more difficult, mainly because they have shown promise in some of their sports (eg gymnastics training is 6 hours per week minimum, my DS swims 4 hours a week).  Also, we do not live in a city or town, so getting them to activities is normally a minimum of 30 minutes drive from home, so we are very happy with activities that the older 2 can walk to after school, as their schools are in the town where I work.  It is very hectic, but achievable.

My schedule is:
- 12 and 10yo gymnastics (12yo walks from school, DH picks up 10yo and drops her off, I pick them up after DS' swimming)

- 15, 12 and 10yo taekwondo (DH drives them and stays at the session)

- 15yo squad swimming (walks to the pool after school and I pick him up after work)
- 12 and 10yo gymnastics (12yo walks from school, DH picks up 10yo and drops her off, I pick them up after DS' swimming)

- 10yo piano (after school)
-12yo netball training (walks to my office after school with a friend, alternate with friend's mum as to who will pick up afterwards
- 15yo squad swimming (walks to the pool after school and I pick him up after work)

- 10yo Kids Club (at church across the road from school)
- 12 and 15yo Youth Group (15yo catches bus from school, 12yo dropped off on my way home from work after picking up 4yo from preschool)

- 10yo squad swimming
- 4yo swimming
-12yo netball, alternating between DH and friend's mum for taking her

#22 luckyducky

Posted 15 April 2018 - 04:34 PM

I have 5 kids.  15 / 13 / 11 / 7 and 6 year olds.

They are now all doing an activity each.  The early years are less busy, but different as the little ones just get used to be dragged around in the car :)  and I am finding that the High school years, and later primary is more difficult to juggle, as there is just more stuff on.  The big kids are pretty good with their planning though, so if I am stuck they can always wait around until I get there, or can get a lift home.  I try not to car pool with others, it just confuses me, and I start forgetting to pick kids up or drop them places when I am out of Sync :)

1 works part time

I have 4 doing domestic basketball, 1 doing representative basketball.

2 do Netball plus my teenager does a mixed social netball game once a week on top her her school Netball.

1 does Gymastics once a week

2 do AFL Footy and then theres Band and music lessons.

So there are basically 10 lots of sports training, 1 gym class and one morning of music thrown in. Oh and a night Netball game in between picking up DD from work a few nights a week.

So basically, when the teams come out every season, we check when training times are..... if they don't fit the schedule they change teams or we jiggle it around.  We find that most nights there are at least 2 activities happening. I don't attend training sessions, I drop and come back.  The kids don't actually mind.  We make it to pretty much all games, but between DH and I we juggle when there are overlaps. Saturdays are pretty manic with 2 Netball games, 4 basketball games that can be all over Melbourne, or overlapping.  

We have a timetable, I laminate it with all details on the back (coach names, training times, contacts etc....).  its a military operation.  DH has his jobs, I have mine, we tag team each other.  It works well.

What you will find is that the thought of it is actually harder than executing it all.  Stay organised, keep on top of the laundry, and make sure you have meals ready on weeknights that are re-heatable so that they can all eat at different times.

We love our sports, the kids enjoy it but when it gets too much they have to drop something.  But, so far we have managed and I wouldn't have it any other way :)

#23 lozoodle

Posted 15 April 2018 - 05:02 PM

Ugh I hear you! I have:

Monday - one kid to soccer training (1 hr); me to PT
Tuesday - one kid to gymnastics (2 hrs)
Wednesday - two kids to gymnastics (1 hr); 2 kids to soccer training (1 hr); me to soccer training (1 hr)
Thursday - one kid to gymnastics (2 hrs); me to PT
Sat - soccer x 3
Sun - soccer me

I don't know the answer, but I have started sending the big kids to their soccer training alone (walking distance, a hundred metres or so) and I pick them up a bit later which helps as I can do stuff at home. I've also swapped the wed gym class to a Thursday starting next term, so only 2 trips there a week instead of 3 should help.

Other than that... I dunno! I'm reluctant to say no to stuff because they enjoy it and I feel like its been a positive thing for them, but argh! SO sick of rushing all the time.

Edited by lozoodle, 15 April 2018 - 05:26 PM.

#24 twinmumplus1

Posted 15 April 2018 - 05:48 PM

Yeah, the juggle is crazy here, but we make it work.   3 kids, DH works away, I work full time.

Monday - free - soon to be hockey match for DD
Tuesday - Boys swimming (get themselves there, I pick up), DD cheer (3 1/2 hours, gets herself there, I pick up)
Wednesday - DD hockey (me pick up and drop off)
Thursday - Swimming for boys (they get themselves there, I pick up). Hockey and Cheer for DD (gets herself there thanks to Mum, I pick up and get to the next one)
Friday - DD RG training 2 1/2 hours away - bus and billets with her coach 2 out of 3 weekends.  If not, hockey game.
Saturday - all of us parkrun
Sunday - hockey match DD if home in time, orienteering for boys.

DH also is a bike rider/ultra marathoner.

It is insane.   I juggle.   They are happy, they have down time, and most importantly love it.  So we do it :)

#25 IShallWearMidnight

Posted 20 October 2018 - 11:40 PM

Our 6yo and 8yo do 1 activity each. 3yo has swimming during school hours. 1yo has playgroup.

It will be trickier when they are all older.

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