Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Extra-murals at school, and kid busyness

Mandy wrote a post the other day about how busy the girls are and I remembered I wanted to talk about this busyness too.

I've always said I don't like kids to be too busy. Life is already busy enough so it takes conscious intention to be un-busy. Long-time readers may remember my babies did NO baby activities whatsoever - no Kindermusik, no babygym, no moms and tots, nothing. This was part...WTH - these are babies, people - and why would I want to make my life crazier by choice?!

Still, I believe they need to do something physical and while we're figuring out what they like to do, they chose two physical activities.

My kids do 3 extra-murals - chess, tennis and mini-cricket.

They offer these at the school, straight after school, and they are done an hour later.

My kids walk home from school so they get home just before 3. After undressing/ dressing, and then unpacking their bags and having a quick lunch, it's homework.

Then it's about 4:30 so they have 1/2 hour before baths.

I feel this is crazy.

It's way too much for 6 year-olds :)

I even said no to a weekday playdate except on a Friday and then again, not every Friday. I want them to relax and just run around the garden messing around.

Because I'm not messing with that homework schedule.

They are into it now (and of course, schools close next week) and seem to have no more trouble sitting still and getting to it.

Of the two, Connor is more focussed and Kendra is more....imaginative.

I keep reminding myself that my own handwriting was awful til I was about 8 and it just clicked for me.

I made a rule - if you say yes to it, you have to stick with it for at least one whole term. Like the Tiger Mother (ahem), I strongly believe that we only enjoy things when we have some mastery over it. I was mostly frustrated by my photography for years til I got good enough. Now I love it.

Kendra came home after ONE tennis lesson saying she was done. I overheard her telling D and was in the room pronto (before he could say "okay baby!") to remind her of our rules.

She then went to week 2 and came home loving it more.

So far they're enjoying all three of the extra-murals and thankfully, since we have to do nothing outside of school, we're enjoying it too.

Now here's the thing, and some of you will think we're crazy but oh well... we told the coach the kids can play mini-cricket but they can't play games on Saturdays.

We have a really nice family rhythm going on with family gym and we don't want to break that and start transporting kids all over Jhb from 7 - 10 every Sat morning.

Coach was fine with it but I've told nobody (except you!) for fear of something. Judgement?

American friends, South Africans are big sports fanatics (not me and D, obviously!).

My other friend MandyE said her girls don't do anything except one activity and she feels guilty sometimes too but wants to preserve their non-busyness.

MandyE, I'm with you! 100% all the way.

We've also stopped swimming lessons (unrelated to the busyness) but last weekend had such a nice laid-back day because we weren't rushing anywhere.


So where do you fall on the extra-murals spectrum?

All? Nothing? Somewhere in between?

PS I've just finished a fabulous book and Dr Leman said something I like - if you feel like your children are too busy, stop the activity!


  1. Nicola has both her extra murals on a Monday as luck would have it. She chose pottery, and she loves it! (I would have picked something martial art-ish, but she's her own little I let her pick). Then after that she has Voortrekkers (my choice, although she loves it too). My thinking is that in a year or two she can start going on camps over school holidays, which is way more fun than sitting at holiday care all the time, since NO ONE has enough leave to entertain their kids every single holiday at home. Plus she'll learn some interesting skills and a bit of indeoendance and problem solving there.

    I don't have an appetite for more activitied than 2. I think she should have time to just play and be a little girl too. So far, it's working well for us.

  2. Caitlyn does dancing on a Saturday morning (Ballet and Acro / Lyrical straight after the other) and at school (during school time they had swimming for a while). Bianca hasn't decided yet and will likely do netball from term 2. I don't like overloading them, but I do want them to do something. And it is not about winning or losing (because I am not competitive) but they have to stick with it for the term / season as you are saying too. Caitlyn doesn't get a lot of homework and won't until she finishes primary school. Bianca has more so we are working on making sure she has a little bit when she gets home by 3:30pm (school is 8:45pm to 3pm) and then at 5pm she needs to start some homework. So far so good :-).

  3. I think you know where I am!!!

    Cam swims 6 days a week until 6h30/7 and 12 on a Saturday. K dances twice a week and does art and leadership.

    Not giving up my saturday was never an option for me - we have been doing it for 6/7 years now!

    1. That sounds crazy, Laura. Good for you that you guys are happy with being so busy.

  4. It only gets worse as they get older! School finishes later and the afternoon activities take longer. And there is pre season training for 1st team players which takes place after the usual sport. But the benefits of doing sport and taking part are huge, especially for older kids. For my son especially he needs the physical release and his team mates are his friends. Ive resigned myself to the fact that my time is not my own anymore, at least until they have finished school (only 6 years to go!)

    1. I know it gets worse when they're older. I'm really not keen on this extreme busyness but agree boys need to get their wiggles out :)

  5. Well you know mine are busy - although Mr L is less so than the other two now that he does not need OT any more. He also has no desire to add something and I am fine with that. A just wants to add more and more - and specifically dancing. I was however totally upset that rugby is 4 times a week - for 8 year old boys! But we have spoken and the school has listened and reduced it to 3 times.

  6. Mmmmm...I am somewhere in between. They can do whatever they want to as long as it takes place at the school and doesn't take any of our time over the weekends. No judgies from me. I would have told coach the same thing. Son2 does swimming. He's not liking it because it's group and he's happier to have coach to himself. He needs to finish a term and then we'll decide if we will continue. He's now talking about music. Son1 does chess and drama. He's not interested in doing anything physical and I am not going to force it. He'll be joining me on Saturdays when I start doing park run.

  7. All my grandchildren are overdoing it with at least 3 summer activities and 3 winter activities each...I am just glad I am not the one doing all that driving.

  8. the kids stopped swimming? Why I thought they were enjoying it! I'm in between I like kids to be physical but not overly so for fear of burn out. The only thing we do for now is swimming, I looked at all those activities babies are supposed to do and I came to the conclusion they work best for SAHM because seriously a class during the week at 1 or 2pm and I refuse to do more than one thing on a Saturday so for now swimming it is

    1. Ps: it still feels weird reading one post from you in a week

    2. I love it; it started feeling like I was talking to myself and maybe now people have time to actually comment and engage with me :)

    3. No you are not! Love reading your posts! I'm battling with commenting on the new phone requires me to sign in after every single comment ... Frustrating hence I tend to do bulk commenting on the old phone once a week

  9. Liam does something everyday. Perceptual (like ball skills), tennis, chess, swimming, soccer. Then swimming on saturday. Next term he'll drop tennis for hockey and I assume swimming will stop and we'll replace it with something else. Once he figures out what he really likes and what he is actually good at, he can drop whatever else doesn't interest him. Our school advised us to let the grade 1's do anything and everything they feel like.. and THEN decide what it is they are really into. He is thoroughly enjoying the exposure to all these things and coping well. In fact, I am still annoyed at the amount of time they spend watching TV in the afternoons which I am still trying to rectify.


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