If you are wondering how to teach your child to balance their life, sports, and academics, then this guide is perfect!
by Jordan Paul | Jordan Paul, passionately passionate about all the passions…and bread, comes at you with spunk and honesty as she’s trying to balance life as a tandem-breastfeeding mom of two girls, small business owner, and non-cleaning housewife. You can find her roaming the aisles of Aldi, mindlessly humming The Alphabet. Follow her on Facebook.
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Recently, I signed my three-year-old up for an eight-week, thirty-minute outdoor soccer program. Naturally, that means that we’ve now signed up for an eight-week, overtired toddler, “Saturdays are now ruined” program.
Obviously, I’m pumped about it. From everything I’ve heard about it, she’ll develop increased coordination and learn importance of teamwork, perseverance, and discipline. Extra benefits include learning what parents I want to invite over for cocktails, and which ones I’ll be pushing over when their kid kicks my baby’s shins.
Did I have to sign her up? No. But that’s what we do as parents.
It’s in the manual. Sign your kid up for as much as you possibly can so you’re completely broke before they go to college, but at least they’ll be so busy, they can’t find any time to get into trouble. Sign your kid up for every activity under the sun so that when they’re old enough to realize they hate the activity, they’re also old enough to realize that they hate you for forcing them to do it, and you can all live miserably ever after.
P.S. They’ll still find a way to muster up enough love to ask what’s for dinner.
I tease. We enroll our children in so much because their developmental years go quickly. We want them to experience every little thing that this life has to offer. We want them to find their niche, their passion, their people. But teaching them to balance it all is tough!
My sister, my parenting hero, has four kids who are overly involved. The problem is that they love every activity they do and they’re actually scholarship-worthy good. The kicker? They’re nice. And smart. It’s actually annoying how well-rounded they really are. Balance is everything and over the course of their insane schedules and being used as the timewaster en route to their events, I’ve become an expert, so follow along for my tips.
#1 Start with something they may actually be good at…and something you won’t cry if you have to sit through.
Is it realistic that our kids are going to go pro or be a contestant on a trivia TV show? Probably not. So put your ego aside, and start with an activity that you all will enjoy. Give them a fighting chance.
If they are good at kicking off their pants in a tantrum, sign up for soccer. If they’re good at throwing their sibling’s toys to torture them, I suggest some basketball. And if you’re constantly having to pry books out of their hands before bedtime, then go for scholastic bowl.
While I don’t advocate for participation trophies, I do advocate for working hard, having fun, and engaging in conversations around the dinner table. Start small and work your way up from there. It’s a good life skill. They may not be great at everything, but attempting new things in search of greatness is an admirable trait.
#2 Make sure you have people you trust to help with the schedule.
It takes a village, am I right?! Physically and mentally, we cannot be the chauffeur, snack bringer, bag carrier, uniform washer, sequin gluer, and scholastic bowl judge, all at once. It’s unrealistic. So, find a group of people you know and trust to help bring your kids to their events and home. Last resort, ask a stranger. Just kidding!
Don’t ask strangers. But admitting to our kids that we cannot do it all and do it all well, shows them that it’s important to delegate and sometimes necessary to ask for help. “Many hands make light work.” Also worth noting, “many carpool options make your fuel bills cheaper.”
#3 Keep a calendar, and keep your friends.
My sister likes to tell me the story of the one time she verbally reminded her husband to pick up their daughter’s friend for cross country practice. In that fateful evening, when they were debriefing the day, she asked how the car ride was with *Susie.* It was in that moment that he remembered that he completely forgot about that obligation. As a result, Susie’s mom doesn’t talk to my sister anymore.
Keeping a calendar, and a shareable one for busy family lives, shows our kids that we need to be held accountable to things we’ve committed to. Managing time and moving about the day accordingly is skill applicable to all facets of life.
#4 Finish what you’ve started
Remember group projects and how infuriating it was when you had to pick up the slack for the one person who never followed through? Well, that also applies to extracurricular activities. Any idea how annoying it is to re-choreograph, run new plays, or train an alternate?
Just because your kid has suddenly decided they’re “over it” doesn’t mean they get to bail on their group. You’ve got to step in, play the “because I said so,” and insist they finish their time. The lessons here are plenty:
- People need to know they can rely on your word.
- Just because you don’t like it now, doesn’t mean you won’t like it later, (hello, broccoli).
- Quitting isn’t an option. Try again.
They’re tough lessons, but they’re invaluable. And yeah, they’re short and abrupt lessons, but so is life. I don’t have all the answers, but I can answer confidently that the lessons above are the ones I learned from being involved in so much growing up. I’ve learned to balance plenty and I have landed on my feet nicely, so I can instill the same in my kids. And while my talents these days consist of “balancing” the laundry basket, the baby, and the dinner plate, all while trying not to trip over the dog, you’d better believe I’ll be using any free time I have to be cheering on their efforts from every sideline I’m blessed enough to be on.