life Parenting

Activities Past & Present

July 27, 2022

Interesting discussion re: activities!

I definitely think my kids are still in those exploratory years where they are trying things. And while there are absolutely 8 and 10 year olds out there who are passionate about (and dedicated towards) one sport or musical instrument, I do not have any kid that operates along those lines. I’m just glad they are happy to continue trying things.

I do try to batch when possible (A&G do gymnastics at similar times; A&C do tennis at the same time; etc). I definitely think C in particular benefits from as much physical activity as possible, and participating in sports after school helps him to get enough. I actually am not sure it is possible to tire him out . . .

no spreadsheet yet

Finally, I have personally always been someone who enjoys doing a lot of things. In my 5th grade year I played piano and violin (lessons + orchestra at school), went to weekly gymnastics, and I think either track or field hockey or both (I was . . . not good), and participated in a chorus after school. I think there may have been ice skating lessons in there somewhere too? Thx parents for helping make all that happen!

Here is a highly embarrassing picture of me in high school (11th grade maybe?) playing violin in my cheerleading uniform because I probably had to go to a game or something after the session:

omg. 1996-7ish?

Anyway. I definitely agree that multiple activities per kid is not the right strategy for every kid or every family. And part of me does hope that my kids focus a little on deeper commitment to fewer things. But there is time for that later.

Workout time

I am currently doing the Peloton 3-day strength training split with Callie. Not sure whether I will continue through. I think in August I will pivot back to Caroline Girvan and try IRON but modified to 3 workouts/week because I’m focusing on running and 3 strength workouts is about as much as I can handle.

I still have a MAJOR running itch and am contemplating a spring marathon (and winter half).

It is possible I want too much out of life. But I guess I feel like . . .why not 🙂


  • Reply Mara July 27, 2022 at 6:53 am

    I also played field hockey in middle and early high school among many other activities. I wasn’t good at all, but looking back, it was great exercise, and for someone who excelled at school it was probably good character building to be in a sport that I wasn’t good at and being okay playing on the JV team (and not starting).

  • Reply CBS July 27, 2022 at 6:54 am

    Aww, A is your twin! I love that. I am hoping to add activities through camps, as everything local to us is at “stay at home parent” timings. But in general, sports are way less intense in the UK. Sports scholarships are not a thing, travel leagues are rare etc, so it feels like kids can engage when and how they want. T would like to try tennis, and maybe some sort of martial arts, and I think he’d love scouts when he’s old enough.

    • Reply Katherine B July 27, 2022 at 7:01 am

      Also in the UK here. Beavers (first stage of Scouts) starts at age 6 I think and Cub Scouts at 8 and there are often long waiting lists so maybe get T’s name down soon! There should be lots of football (soccer) from a fairly young age too.

      • Reply Coree July 27, 2022 at 7:32 am

        Thanks, I had a sneaking suspicion this was the case, so thanks for the nudge to send an email. Turns 5 next week, so hopefully by the time he’s 6 he might get off the list.

        They’ve been doing rugby tots at nursery which is adorable. And Scottish country dancing because we’re north of the border. We were walking by bagpipes the other day and he very ably called out instructions to me to do the dancing.

        • Reply Emma July 27, 2022 at 2:00 pm

          5-6 is also a great time to start Highland Dance if they like Country Dancing and the bagpipes! (I’m a US based teacher who loves to plug my favorite activity!)

  • Reply Alex July 27, 2022 at 7:07 am

    I love the idea of lots of activities theoretically but how do you make it happen? Does your nanny take them to most of it? We have one weekday afternoon activity and one weekend morning activity. I want my kids to try out more things but I struggle to get dinner on the table after the weekday activity, and I feel resentful if we have to turn down a weekend invitation if there’s a conflict.

    • Reply KGC July 27, 2022 at 10:19 am

      Yes! I realize that some of my comments yesterday were kind of coming off as a bit bitter, and I think it’s because I haven’t solved the ‘make it happen’ problem. We are a two-parent full-time working household and my husband is unreachable at his job (security clearance) so everything during the week is on me – and I don’t know how to make multiple activities work AND maintain a dinner/bedtime routine! We’re looking into a part-time nanny, which may help.

      Honestly, though, I do love hearing about all the systems that make stuff like this work. I 100% guarantee that I would have NEVER (ever) considered hiring a nanny/babysitter without hearing about how those systems work in SHU’s life and from SHU/Laura on BOBW. But now I’m actively looking because I think that will provide the best benefit!

      • Reply Irene July 27, 2022 at 11:59 am

        I have been thinking about trying to hire some one to do some of the driving too. There are certain things that you really need a parent for (e.g. certain therapies) but it doesn’t need to be me sitting in a gymnastics studio waiting room with my 4 year old. Finding some one I am comfortable driving my kid is tricky though.

        • Reply Amanda July 27, 2022 at 7:19 pm

          Yes, the logistics would make a great podcast ep! I’m sometimes in meetings until 6p, and realize you don’t have two parents at home to run to three kids’ activities at 4p either.

  • Reply Brittany July 27, 2022 at 8:03 am

    I have such a love hate relationship with activities. Love the exposure to new activities and skills; do NOT love the busy evenings. Piano lessons have been such a quality add to our schedule and the teacher comes to us during the day which makes it so convenient. Plus, both girls have taken off with it, much to my surprise seeing that I have zero musical skill. This year H (10) will do rec soccer, swim prep, and basketball (in winter). K will do club soccer, TKD, and basketball. I wanted K to try acting because she has a natural dramatic flare, but I can’t bring myself to add another commitment.

  • Reply omdg July 27, 2022 at 10:28 am

    It’s mostly our inability to get Dyl to activities that limits us, and basically none of them take place at her school, so… Husband takes her to riding on Mondays and piano on Tuesdays. We have also been doing dog obedience class one evening a week. While I guess we could do more stuff, honestly it seems pretty overwhelming at this point. I’m already very tired in the evenings (and I still do research related stuff in the evenings most nights). If she had it her way, she’d be riding a horse every week. Honestly, the cost of the babysitter to drive her is the limiting factor for that.

    • Reply omdg July 27, 2022 at 10:29 am

      I should say — She would be riding a horse every day. I hope that was obvious… haha

  • Reply Louise July 27, 2022 at 10:33 am

    Interesting discussion. I’m also in the UK. My child is 10 and did a variety of sports up until this year. He’s become very good at one of them and so now we have no option but to double down on that one. I’m not sure what is preferable in terms of logistics or their longer-term development but sometimes you just have to roll with it. I’m fortunate to have a flexible job so I work 8-3 4 days a week which enables me to pick up from school then transport him to various training or match requirements.

  • Reply Shelly July 27, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    I grew up on a farm in a very small town and did one activity that didn’t meet that often. I would have loved to do more but couldn’t. My kids have no desire and I find that frustrating. When they were little we did a bit of soccer. My son did baseball a few years and has done flag football for the last two but that is only May/June and not all year. My daughter who is turning 10 is tough. I had her try gymnastics and dance but it was ALWAYS a fight. She does not like “being told what to do”. From when she was born. She loves to sing and I asked if she wanted to join a choir and her first question to me “Do I get to sing what I want?”. If not the answer is no. Argh! I’m hoping she will at some point realize that “being told what to do” can be good for learning!
    I feel so guilty that we don’t get them to do “enough” as in anything. We have done swimming lessons as those were non-negotiable life saving skills.

  • Reply shalini July 27, 2022 at 2:10 pm

    How many days a week do you run vs do strength? Do you have break days every week? Do you mind sharing your workout schedule for some inspiration

    • Reply Grateful Kae July 27, 2022 at 3:34 pm

      About running vs. strength, I’m impressed that you’re fitting in 3 strength workouts while running a lot! Back when I used to run marathons, I was working 3 12 hour nursing shifts/ week, 7 a-730p. I remember feeling so constantly frustrated trying to make training plans work around my work schedule… on my work days I left home around ~6/6:10 a.m. and got home usually between 8:15-8:30 pm (after being on my feet all day/exhausted, and had toddlers at home sometimes still up waiting for me…).

      It was SO hard to fit any workouts in on my workdays. But then that only left 4 days for workouts/ training… not to mention I often had stretches of either work or off days in a row, and it wasn’t ideal to like, run 4 days in a row and then do no workouts for 4 days, for example. And my schedule rotated + every other weekend, so long runs were a nightmare to schedule. Then trying to add in STRENGTH on top of it felt impossible…No wonder I eventually quit running. lol.

      I know I used to double up and do a strength workout post- short run some days, or I would get up and do a short treadmill run at like, 4:30 am before work some days to squeeze a run in in the middle of a work stretch…yuck…. I did so much googling things like “how to marathon train while doing shift work” and things like that. HA. Even with a “normal” schedule, I feel like it’s really challenging to balance lots of strength work with running, so 3x/ week strength + running training plan + fulltime job is IMPRESSIVE to me! Good job SHU. 🙂

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 27, 2022 at 3:44 pm

        You’re giving me too much credit – the truth is I’m not running that much!!! Currently 3-4 runs/week and 3 strength. I used to take full rest days but now
        I only take them if a) I feel super tired or off or b) life messes stuff up (not that frequent since I work out at 6am, but it happens).

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 28, 2022 at 6:01 am

      Currently I am generally trying for 4 runs + 3 strength / week! I’d like to eventually push the runs to 5 and double up a day or two. Most of my weekday workouts are 45 min or less so it doesn’t feel like too much!

  • Reply Emma July 27, 2022 at 2:12 pm

    My kids do three after school activities each (some of which are multiple days) and I teach one (Highland Dance, four days a week, after my full time job) so I’m also in favor of multiple activities. I think the benefits go far beyond the specific skill (though that’s great too) and extend to things like time management and planning, social relationships, etc. For the logistics I do spend a lot of time at the beginning of each season planning out the driving and work/activity schedules, and I spend time in advance thinking through evening routines and making checklists to streamline them so it’s not a disaster when we get home at 7:30-8:00 and have to eat dinner and get through the evening routine in time for everyone to get enough sleep. We also travel pretty extensively for Highland, and so I think through those weekends in advance, since most home things happen on the weekends. It does take planning, and yes sometimes I’m tired, but I value these activities really highly so it’s worth it to me.

    • Reply KGC July 27, 2022 at 2:24 pm

      @Emma, I’m just coming to say that I love that you teach Highland Dance! I did Irish dancing for many years but a good friend/colleague was a Scottish dancer and we used to trade stories back and forth. It’s SUCH a fun sport to do!!! It was great fun at her wedding since I was actually able to join in with some of the dances – there’s enough overlap between Highland and Ceili dancing that we made it work!

  • Reply AWS July 27, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    A second request for you to share the logistics of how this gets done (Monday – Soccer straight from school, Nanny driving) IF you are willing (completely understand if not).

    My daughter is 2.5 and we’re just starting to dive into activities. She’s in a soccer program at her daycare (expensive but very convenient), and we did a few swimming lessons earlier this year. I’m starting to think about like gymnastics or art or more swim lessons. I’m also a full-time working parent and pregnant, so pretty exhausted. But that’s not a good reason for her to miss out! Or is it! Le sigh.

  • Reply Gillian July 27, 2022 at 4:27 pm

    With 4 kids we limit to 2 activities each with a few exceptions (ie my older kids participate in our church’s youth group and that doesn’t count). My favorites are where there is alignment. So all 4 do martial arts and I can usually work the schedule so at least 3 can attend classes at the same time. School activities are also great, my 15 yo plays soccer on the school team so there is typically minimal driving involved in that (except if like last year there continues to be a shortage of school bus drivers in our region). I try to protect our weekends pretty fiercely–only soccer seems to be a weekend only activity–activities are largely during the week.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 27, 2022 at 4:43 pm

      Sundays are our “nothing” day. Hopefully can keep it that way!

  • Reply coco July 27, 2022 at 5:24 pm

    when you have an itch for long… it means to have to scratch it! hahahaha….
    I didn’t do much when I was a kid due to academic focus in china and because my parents couldn’t afford. now that we are both means I gave the girls freedom to try things. they pretty much love everything. Now with Sofia who will turn 10, I’m discussing with her the advantage of focus on fewer things so she can be better at it, and one filter for that process is to think in which ones she’d have an advantage or not having a disadvantage. still an ongoing process as it makes time for her to grasp the concept, and I hope she reaches to the conclusion by herself.

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns July 27, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    It’s interesting to hear how other families approach activities. Week night activities don’t work for us in this stage of life since our kids are at daycare for 9.5 hours. It’s a long day so adding something on top of that feels like too much. So that limits us to week end activities. I really need both kids to learn to swim but the oldest refused to get in the pool last summer at lessons so we are on a grand pause until I can convince him to try again. The toddler is taking swimming lessons with me in the pool with him but we are taking a break when the summer session ends. Both boys are in gymnastics but the toddler is only in it because there is a class for him at the same time as his older brothers. And doing a parent/tot class was so much better than me trying to corral him during his brother’s class – my husband grocery shops at that time so I had to have the toddler with me. We do want to expose the older kid to other activities so we might enroll him in a short soccer class this fall. We have activities on sat and sun mornings now and I don’t like that – I need one morning free to do things like go to the zoo, parks, play dates, etc.

    I was very very busy when I was in high school but pretty much only had one activity besides piano up until high school. I think we will take a similar approach with our kids for our sanity. We are all tired at the end of the day!! But this may shift as our kids get older. Eventually they will have after school commitments but that is so far off for us!!

  • Reply Elissa August 21, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    I felt like I need this just for me: “Deeper commitment to few things.”

    Also, I’m the same. Want to do ALL THE THINGS.

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