There is a common joke in the homeschooling world. “Why do they call it homeschooling when we are never at home!?” Although the general public tends to see home education as bubbling our kids away from the world, the reality is that there are plenty of opportunities for our kids to learn out and about. Maybe, in fact, there are too many opportunities. Before you realize it, you can easily be so bogged down with lessons, classes, meetups, co-ops, sports teams, etc. How can you avoid letting activities overrule your days?
Questions to Ask Before Signing Up for Activities
Were any of these extra activities you do or are thinking of doing on your priority list?
The first step is to go back to your priorities list that we made earlier in this series. If music is very important to you and your children, for example, giving up your music lessons probably shouldn’t be an option. But if you are just doing something for the sake of doing something, ditch it. It’s just sucking time away from your life.
Do you have intentional times set aside for the activities you are considering?
Next, look at the plan / calendar and see what you can honestly fit in. If life is already pretty busy and you are stretched thin, adding extra things will just make you more tired, more stressed, and less happy.
Can you afford it?
One of the biggest challenges of doing so many extra activities is that they cost money. Usually, a lot of money. Take a look at the program you are considering signing up for. Are their costs outside of the actual registration fee? Will you have to pay for a uniform, an instrument, trips, tools, or accessories to participate successfully? Is this within your budget?
Does your child want to participate in this activity?
Sometimes, as parents, we see something that we think would be fun/cool/interesting and jump at the opportunity to participate. Then, when it’s time to actually go – our kids baulk, making us frustrated (and confused why they don’t want do that activity we are all excited about!) Talk to your kids before signing them up for things. They will tell you if they are interested or not.
Don’t fall into the trap that each kid needs an activity to be fair.
Kids are all different and have different needs. If you have multiple children, it might seem unfair to register only one child into an activity. But it’s not. You need to find out what your children need, not just an activity for the sake of an activity. For example, if you have one child who is extremely social and active – you might decide to sign them up for soccer. But your other child is very introverted and more on the “geeky” side of things. Signing them up for soccer could be a huge disaster, because they are unhappy and don’t like sports. He would rather stay close to home and hang out with one or two of his closest friends. Don’t look for fair. Look at each of your children separately.
Don’t do something because it’s “expected” of you as a homeschooler.
Signing up for something just because you think that’s what homeschoolers are supposed to do can lead to some very burnt out kids and parents. You don’t HAVE to sign up for a co-op, or music lessons, or art class, or the local gym days. You don’t HAVE to do anything. That’s the beauty of homeschooling. You don’t HAVE to sign up for anything. If you’ve been struggling with an activity because you thought you had to…. I free you from that right now. Cross it off your list.
Don’t pack your days.
Our local community has so many things available for homeschoolers: classes for cooking, art, gymnastics, dance, music, swimming. There are library clubs, snowboarding teams, field trips, meet ups, and volunteer opportunities. We could probably be so busy every day that we would never be home and never do “school.” But we would be exhausted. Don’t fill your days with everything. It’s just too much. Create peace by not having to rush around all the time. Start with one or two and add more activities as wanted or needed. (Follow the “less is more” mentality!)
Learn to say no and be ok with it.
I think we can too easily get sucked into all these extra things because we have a hard time letting someone down or because we feel guilty for saying no. We have to learn to be willing to say no and then learn to be ok with that. “No” isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually very freeing because now we are able to be in charge of our days and our time, we are able to decide what it important to us and what isn’t, and we are able to give ourselves space to breathe and relax.
If you follow all these guidelines, you will come up with a plan for all your extra activities that will work best for your family and children.
Want more tips on how to better handle the different parts of your busy life? Check out the other posts in this 10 day series: Homeschooling & The Myth of Balance.