COVID19 life Parenting


July 26, 2022

Hello from clinic (lunch break!).

My rapid test was negative this morning. I’m feeling 98% back to normal. I ran (on the treadmill due to a thunderstorm) this AM and it felt decent, though I think I backtracked a bit in my training by taking the week off.

I am seeing patients today and wearing an N95 and it has been fine. The only question that remains to determine whether this is really and truly over is . . . will there be spread within our household?

I guess only time will tell.


We are gradually sliding back into our normal household routines. I told both big kids they could have two days of absolute free-for-all, and then it would be time to incorporate some schoolwork (they each have sizable packets to complete and both are supposed to read, though no specific assigned books yet).

I am pretty sure Cameron spent >12 hrs yesterday on screens. He pointed out to me that he loved camp even though there were no screens, though! Interesting . . .

NEEDS a haircut though his crazy hair is also somewhat awesome
she alternated between screens + raiding my stationery stash
Sushi-inspired rice bowls for requested first dinner!
C requested snow crab so we ordered that for him too.
sweet bedtime routine that would have been much sweeter if G had actually gone to bed . . .

T-3 weeks . . .

Now suddenly there has been an abrupt pivot to “oh (#%*&$ it’s already time to sign up for school activities!” Not everything starts up right when school does, but enough things do — and fill up — that I’ve already started a makeshift Activities List in Apple Notes. It’s not a spreadsheet yet but it could easily become one.

So far, it’s looking like:

A wants to do theater, tennis, gymnastics (just once/week, nothing super intense), horseback riding, and art.

C wants to do soccer, tennis, and possibly art.

G wants to do dance (this class was almost full!) and gymnastics.

Josh wants all 3 kids to start/restart piano.

So basically life is going to be an insane puzzle to solve every week come fall. Good thing I like planning.


  • Reply Mrs.Candid July 26, 2022 at 1:24 pm

    Good to know that you are feeling better and tested negative. Nice to see the kids back home too.
    I loved the last line of your post “good thing i like planning” 😃 😀

  • Reply omdg July 26, 2022 at 1:37 pm

    Haha my husband also insists on piano for Dyl, though somehow I end up being the only one who enforces any sort of practice schedule. Last year I experimented with dropping the ball on that one, and Dyl literally did not practice once for 2 months and made zero progress. I wouldn’t care except her teacher is awesome, and I was mortified at how disrespectful of her time that felt. Not sure what to do here. On one hand, I am sure that he will want her to take piano again, but on the other it ends up being more work for ME, with benefits that are hard for me to appreciate. Anyway, just wondering if you’ve experienced anything similar at chez-SHU.

    • Reply Alyce July 26, 2022 at 1:52 pm

      You don’t have to make yourself miserable to spare the teacher’s feelings. She’s getting paid to be there, regardless of the time and energy your kid puts into practicing and improving. My parents were music teachers and kids who don’t practice and don’t improve are totally normal. I can promise you that the teacher does not feel uniquely disrespected that your kid doesn’t practice. Plus, if the teacher truly is upset and doesn’t want to work with your kid, they’ll just keep raising the price until it’s expensive enough that you decide that it isn’t worth it to you to pay for something your kid doesn’t care about. (Also, I totally was your kid, and my parents, even with being music teachers themselves still sent me to and paid for lessons for multiple years without me ever practicing. It’s just that normal.)

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2022 at 2:16 pm

      Interesting my friend who recommended this teacher says her kids do not practice much! I was going to try for like 10 min a few times a week …

      • Reply omdg July 26, 2022 at 3:13 pm

        Haha I mean, 10 min a few times a week is my goal for my daughter? She was literally doing 0 min 0 days per week.

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2022 at 3:37 pm

          No for A and C.
          My parents made me practice minimum 30 a day every day. It worked but I am aiming far lower …

    • Reply Grateful Kae July 26, 2022 at 4:27 pm

      @ OMDG, I feel you!! My son is pretty naturally talented at the piano I think/ plays beautifully, yet never ever wants to practice. I recently tried the “experiment” you did, where I just basically never mentioned piano for a whole week, to see if he would ever go practice on his own, without me telling him to. (Our house rule is at least 20 minutes a day, but some days get missed/ we really aren’t 100% on enforcing it.)

      But anyway, I said nothing for a week, and shockingly, he didn’t touch the piano for the whole week! I then secretly texted his teacher and told her what I had done, and that as a result he hadn’t practiced all week. I asked if she could give him a little heat at his lesson, like kind of scold him, or say something like, “boy, you don’t seem very prepared today” to see if he’d be embarrassed at least, or feel he should practice more. After his lesson, I asked how it went and he just said, “It was fine.” No mention of a scolding, no concern. Not sure if she was just too nice or what, but he didn’t seem fazed by it at all!! ha.

      I am not sure my son has ever sat down to play just for “fun”, although he will practice without TOO much complaint, but ONLY when I make him. Many time the practice sessions seem pretty weak, too- not a ton of dedicated effort. He just turned 14. I go back and forth on if it’s worth continuing since he seems to have such little interest. But he’s really good!!! And I have played the piano sine I was about 3, and I love it…so it’s a hard pill for me to swallow. So I keep thinking maybe he’ll change his mind and suddenly love it. I can’t figure out how he doesn’t like it! At his age I played for fun ALL the time, I loved to play. Although I feel like he is a kid who would be happy not really doing any extracurriculars, except soccer/ school sports (his lack of enthusiasm for things in general (besides video games..) also really irritates me), so we kind of want him in something musical or that will challenge him in another way…but yeah, sometimes it feels like a colossal waste of money. and time.

  • Reply KGC July 26, 2022 at 1:53 pm

    This is such a great example of ‘different strokes for different folks’ because my reaction to the kids’ request for activities would be to tell them to each pick ONE. (And I would say that after trying really hard hide the look of horror on my face, which would maybe happen successfully but also probably wouldn’t) The idea of that much going on gives me hives! But I hope you come up with an excellent spreadsheet to make it work for you – I know lots of people thrive on multiple activities!!!

    • Reply gwinne July 26, 2022 at 2:33 pm

      Yup. As a single parent of two I have had a strict ONE ACTIVITY AT A TIME policy, with very rare exceptions. This summer Tiny Boy had a month of swimming Tues/Thurs and baseball Mon/Wed and it was A LOT. My big kid is headed to college in the fall, and I plan to keep this rule in place.

    • Reply Amanda July 26, 2022 at 2:40 pm

      So glad you are feeling better and testing negative, Sarah! Yes, agree that activities can vary so much. A lot depends on the parents’ schedules, outsourcing additional care, if family is nearby to help, number of children, and/or kids’ energy levels. It seems like most things in parenting, there are pros/cons, as I’m also a one activity/child parent (soccer + weekly swim lessons for my son C’s age sent me into a tailspin in the spring). At the same time, I really want my children to try baseball and it hasn’t been their first choice yet, so they may not participate. Thanks for sharing this view into how your family manages activities!

      • Reply KGC July 26, 2022 at 3:12 pm

        One of the tough parts, actually (that sort of crystallized when discussing with a neighbor) is that if you don’t start kids into sports or activities early, they can end up sort of behind whenever they do develop an interest. And I don’t know how to reconcile this!!! For some super athletic kids, it may not matter. But our neighbor was expressing frustration because her 7-8 year old was getting discouraged when he tried new sports and the other kids were so much better because they’d already been playing for a few years. So while I’m so far sticking to the one activity at a time thing, it means my soccer-loving kid might not try anything else unless I change my policy. And what if he ends up liking something else better?!!? (these are first world problems, I know. kid activities cause me a lot of probably unnecessary stress…but so does the thought of being busy every night so….)

        • Reply Alyce July 26, 2022 at 6:19 pm

          But what does it mean to be behind? Behind for what purpose? 99% of kids aren’t going to be professional athletes, or get scholarships because of their athletic prowress, regardless of when they start the sport. It’s okay that they only get as good as they’re going to get during the time that they were interested in a sport. It’s okay that they’re discouraged by not being the best at a sport. And it’s okay that they’re not the best player in general! And I say this as someone who didn’t start doing sports until high school (when it was all through high school and it required a relatively minimal committment from my parents), and was resoundingly mediocre at all of them. No one that I participated in sports with when I was in high school still actively participates in those sports now
          (although it’s totally possible that the couple of people I know who tried their hand at professional tennis after high school probably continue to play tennis recreationally today).

        • Reply Alyce July 26, 2022 at 6:21 pm

          Also, the really good players will peel off into travel sports soon, or perhaps the issue could be solved by finding a less experienced league for your kid to play in.

          • KGC July 26, 2022 at 6:34 pm

            @Alyce, I agree with your points. The ‘behind’ that I was talking about was for the kid! Apparently our neighbor’s kid really struggled with that feeling (I get the impression he’s a mediocre athlete so probably would have been middle-of-the-pack anyway, but then felt sort of left out or lost since his perception was that all the other kids were better). It sounds like he ended up feeling discouraged a lot. And/or maybe he just hasn’t found his thing! But yes for sure, nearly no one who plays rec sports becomes a professional athlete (except for the little girl I used to babysit who is now a pro soccer player…!). I just…ugh. I already feel overwhelmed and one of my kids isn’t even doing any activities (age 3). We live in a high-involvement area so we’re certainly in the minority with trying not to overprogram. I’m happy with our decision but the peer pressure is there!

    • Reply Gillian July 27, 2022 at 7:15 am

      We have 4 kids who are each limited to 2 activities. That is PLENTY for us. My older two are pretty set on their activities, the younger two are still exploring. One great thing is that they are all enjoying martial arts and lessons can be coordinated to minimize the driving etc.

  • Reply Lori C July 26, 2022 at 2:22 pm

    I also love your “good thing I like planning…” line..haha!

    I don’t think I have mentioned it before so wanted to comment about how impressed I am with your kids palates and eating habits. I love when you mention meal planning and dinners because what your kids are willing to eat blows me away. What is your secret?! I am sure I create a majority of the battle in my home because I assume they won’t like certain things… I should just serve up a meal and not cave in to the “can I just have XXX instead?” requests. It’s an area I want to improve in, because I am SICK of being a short order cook! Whatever you did, or are doing, it seems to have worked!

    Also, Jack White’s new album – thoughts? I heard it on All Songs Considered and loved the featured songs. Have you checked it out?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2022 at 2:30 pm

      Hmm. Some of my kids are more adventurous than others. The things they like and dislike are super random. G is the most inconsistent annoying eater. C can be picky. So not sure we are all that great but this is worth a future post …

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2022 at 2:30 pm

      And I have not listened to that album yet But I will!

  • Reply Angela Easley July 26, 2022 at 2:29 pm

    I never thought I would be saying this…I’m ALMOST wishing I still had school aged kids. I’m sure my 18 yr old will test my patience and I’ll snap back to reality.
    Glad you feeling better!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa’s Yarns July 26, 2022 at 2:38 pm

    Glad you are positive and feeling better! Your level of fitness will return quickly I bet! I don’t feel a huge difference from my 2 weeks off but I am also not pushing myself very hard right now so my pace expectations are non-existent!

    So many activities!! I was 1 of 5 kids so we were pretty limited in what we could do. We each did one activity at a time until we were in HS. One activity/kid is all we can handle. Our kids are much younger, though! Both boys are doing gymnastics now. We were on a wait list for a class and got in this summer. The 18m has swim lessons but we are taking a break because having something both sat and sun am is too much! I need one free weekend morning to do things like go to the zoo where we have a membership. We are looking at signing our older son up for soccer this fall which would be on one week night for 4 weeks I think. But I told my husband he has to handle that since I take the boys to gymnastics. That is as much as we can handle though! I would like to keep to this low level of commitments though. But I want the boys to take piano starting around age 6-7 I think. We will see if either has a natural ability or interest. I took piano until I was 16 and my younger sister did, too. My other 3 siblings had no interest so I’m prepared for their piano lessons to only last a few years to 8+!

  • Reply Grateful Kae July 26, 2022 at 4:39 pm

    Sarah, I think you are kind of in that complicated stage with activities. Your kids are just a little younger than mine, and I remember in elementary years especially feeling like we wanted them to have lots of options to “try” different things. It felt too soon to narrow it down/ “specialize”, if you will….but then on the other hand, they each already had preferences (E- soccer, A- swim), so we wanted to make sure to keep those up, too, lest they sort of fall off or fall behind….

    But then yeah, you end up with this huge amount of different activities if you’re trying new things in addition to their favorites/staples. And nowadays, so many sports are year round… like if tennis were a “summer only” thing, and they could horseback ride in the fall/winter, that’d be nice and would naturally split things up. But in reality, I’m sure Florida has tennis year round! (It’s even year round here in WI, just indoors…). As they get a bit older, I feel like they naturally start picking things they want to focus on- or you have no choice but to eliminate some, because the sports increase to multiple times per week. Like my youngest used to do both swim AND soccer, but eventually quit soccer when his year round swim practices increased to 4-5x/week. It just became physically impossible to get to both overlapping soccer practices/games and swim practices/meets in a single week. Etc.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 26, 2022 at 4:47 pm

      Yes! Most of these are just once a week situations for 1-2 hrs so it’s a lot of dabbling and not tons of depth in any one thing.

      I don’t feel like any kid has found any specific passion yet. At this age I was in gymnastics (casual), piano, violin (lessons and orchestra), and chorus. I think I might have also done field hockey or track (was not a shining star in either of those lol).

      And yes most of those are year round. Drama art and soccer are seasonal. There are also school sports! A wasn’t into any of them but C is now old enough and might want to

  • Reply Sophie July 26, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    Sarah have you read The Nature Fix? Great book. Your comment that C loved camp even though there were no screens reminded me of the discussion of how good outdoor nature activities are for all kids, but especially certain personalities, which sounds like how you describe C. Worth a read if you haven’t, I really enjoyed it all round.

  • Reply Irene July 26, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    So timely. I have been one of those one activity a week families (mostly on weekends) for a while but since we missed like 2 years due to the pandemic my DD is about to age out of intro dance classes if she doesn’t try them this year, so I’m waivering… although now she is saying she prefers gymnastics instead. Plus we have an ADHD kiddo too so exercise is really important (they get so little time to move at school it makes me mad!) It’s so hard; and neither of my kids are going to be athletic super stars although I’m secretly impressed by both of them- shear determination actually goes a really long way at their ages! Even though I could make after school activities work most days they each already have one non- fun appointment after school (e.g. speech therapy) and they seem really worn out by the school day. I feel bad dragging my 4 year old out to sit in a waiting room when he has been waiting to be reunited with his toys all day. But they also both ask for play dates on weekends a lot so I’m hesitant to add too much to that. I am glad they have their own interests but also wish I could sign them up for the same thing sometimes (tough with our age gap unfortunately). Would love to hear how you figure this out with 3 kids and how much you expect the kids to come while others get driven around. We are planning to use aftercare for each kid while the other one has their immediately after school appointments (siblings not allowed still because of COVID!) so that helps some but it’s a lot of moving pieces even with my flexibile job.

  • Reply Sarah July 26, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    I cannot even look at my color-coded Google calendar for fall activities yet. We are wrapping up swim and dive season this week, but tournament baseball season is ongoing and hockey is right around the corner. AND THAT’S JUST ONE KID. GAH. Such a puzzle. Solidarity.

    • Reply Amanda July 26, 2022 at 9:52 pm

      I feel what others are saying regarding missing out by not trying an activity by an early age. For better (and in many ways worse), I live in a very competitive sports area and even kids who play on travel teams year-round in middle school are unlikely to make the high school team.

      I think there are lots of downsides, but it does take the pressure off in a way at the same time. You’re not necessarily missing out unless you try something by age 8.

      Curious if anyone else has experienced this and what you do to keep them out of trouble in high school in that case. I have all boys, and think the situation is tough for both genders.

      • Reply Sarah July 27, 2022 at 7:25 am

        My former club athlete high schooler switched to a less competitive high school sport (tennis) and found his passion in other clubs, etc. It worked out fine for him and was pretty gradual. He started to drop out of the higher club levels mid-middle school and played on less competitive travel teams than he did as a 9-11 y/o, so his high school sports future was easy to see, even for him.

  • Reply Coree July 27, 2022 at 3:39 am

    I just have the one and we FINALLY got aftercare spots allocated (with 3 weeks til school starts) so now I get to look ahead to autumn planning.

    We are going to stick to just Sunday swim lessons for the first half of the school year – I think the transition to school can be a lot for kids (but T’s been in fulltime care since he was 1, so maybe he’ll be fine?). Schools are only halfday on Fridays here, which is a pain, but also opens up a bit of an opportunity for some fun activities with a parent or a pal – museum, nature trips, etc.

    I’ve got 80% of my work travel nailed down, I hope…unless something drastically changes with my teaching schedule. I have a sinking feeling it might, and my carefully constructed spreadsheet will need major revisions (and all flights changed, luckily no change fees but a pain).

  • Reply Marcia Francois July 27, 2022 at 9:11 am

    I admire your commitment to shuttling them around. We are “lazy parents” (I don’t feel lazy) because we tell them they can do any activities that happen AT school, but for any weekend/ after school activities, it must fit into our lives.

    My twins have just turned 13 and that’s how it’s been their whole life. My daughter did drawing classes online during the pandemic, but again, I showed her how to log in once, and I just paid every month. Almost no effort for me 🙂

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger July 27, 2022 at 10:18 am

      our nanny does lots of driving AND we try to pick things that are super close to our house or that end at the right time so I can get a kid on the way home from work.

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