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Parental Acrobatics: Juggling School and Extracurricular Activities

Now that school is back in session, you’re probably back into an old routine too. Often, it can feel like you’re involved in parental acrobatics, as if you’re part of a circus act. It’s important to juggle your work life and responsibilities in addition to responsibilities around the house. Then you keep adding balls for your kids’ school and extracurricular activities.

Depending on how good a juggler you are, you may be able to keep this up for quite a while, but at some point, even the best juggler will drop a ball.

So what’s a parental juggler to do? How do you minimize the risk of dropping the ball when it really matters? As a parent, one must set boundaries.

Unfortunately, some people aren’t very good at setting boundaries to begin with.

They let everyone around them run the show and tend to juggle as fast as they can, trying to keep more balls, oranges, and hand grenades in the air. These are the same people who, when something inevitably falls, blame themselves for being a bad juggler.

Other people are able to set some boundaries, but have no boundaries in other areas. Perhaps they’re great at setting boundaries at work, but can’t seem to keep friends from dropping by unannounced. Or they may be good at setting boundaries with their friends, but let their employers walk all over them.

As a parent, boundary issues with your kids can be a big problem. You want to be a part of your kids’ lives and you want to be there in ways that your parents weren’t able to be. That’s normal. However, your desire to give your kids the perfect childhood with all the advantages they can have or might possibly need in life can leave you exhausted, overwhelmed, and surrounded by a lot of dropped balls.

The first thing that you have to accept is that there is no such thing as a perfect childhood. That may sound awful, but it isn’t. There are billions of GREAT childhoods out there and that idea of perfection is holding you back. Instead, you should aim for something great and not worry about the hiccups along the way.

The second thing that you should accept is that you can’t be everything to your kids, nor should you be. Yes, you’ll act as a chauffeur to many events, but that doesn’t mean you have to drive them to every single practice. Despite your wanting to be supportive and help out when you can, you shouldn’t have to be the only parent in the class who gets called to bake cupcakes or chaperone field trips. On the flipside, you don’t want to be the only parent who NEVER makes it to the recitals or contributes to classroom either.

Give yourself permission to think about yourself and your desires. What activities bring YOU the most pleasure? When do your children seem happiest to have you involved? What would be the hardest for you to miss out on? What tasks do you dislike the most? Take into account your personal preferences, skills, and your own schedule for when you set boundaries.

Talk to other parents and approach your kids’ activities like a team. By getting to know other parents and their preferences, you may come up with a system that works great for several families. Then if someone has something come up, you have the time and energy to pick up an occasional extra ball, knowing that they’ll have you covered when you need to pass one off later.

Sometimes the boundaries will feel like they’re setting limits on the number of activities that are happening at once within your own family. However, it’s important to remember that even though that may feel like you’re shorting your family on their opportunities at first, everyone will benefit when you are juggling at a rate that is comfortable for you.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

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