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Extracurricular Sabbatical

It’s back to school and here we go again: scheduling the year out: school, events, vacation, professional days, dentist appointments and of course, extra-curricular activities.  Even those of us who appreciate that kids need time to just “be” and believe that we shouldn’t be over-scheduling our kids still cram all kinds of things into their day.  After all, they still need to be exposed to music, sports and explore any interests and talents…

As a result, our family life during the school year consists of a daily: home at 4:30, Supper, homework, practice piano, showers, brush teeth & bedtime.  Add in piano lessons for the older kids and ballet for the youngest as well as the more-than-occasional after-school appointment.  Other than dinner time, there is no real time to play or just hang out as a family during the week.  The weekends are much better.  On Saturdays we spend time together as a family and Sunday is a mix of family time, activities for the kids & swimming lessons.

When you think about it though, the kids barely have time to decompress.  They are in school from 7:45 to 4:10 daily, it’s the  equivalent of a full work day.  We need time to decompress at the end of the day and they do, too.

That’s just the school year.  The summer brings less homework but here come soccer & baseball! Last summer, we spent 4 nights a week eating on the run and shuttling to various parks for games.  We’d try to entertain the 2 or 3 kids who weren’t on the team while attempting to watch the one(s) playing.  We know we weren’t alone when we prayed for rain. 🙂  This past summer, we chose not to enroll and finally had time to teach the kids to ride their bikes.  Afternoon swims were also new reality.  It was refreshing.

This year 3 of my 4 kids are in grades known for the onslaught of homework.  So we made a family decision: we’re paring down our already slim roster of extracurricular.

Our youngest will continue swimming lessons because swimming  is a life skill and a matter of safety.  The older 3 are strong enough swimmers that we can rely upon summer lessons to improve further.  They will all continue to go to their Sunday programming as it is only 2 hours on the weekend and also allows Hubby & I some time to run errands or catch up over coffee. Taking a break from piano was the hardest decision as the kids are learning so nicely and we ADORE our piano teacher.  That said, piano was also the most strenuous on the family schedule, in terms of staying on top of 3 kids to practice daily.  In addition the kids expressed, and continued to express during the summer, the need for a break. We believe it’s because they need it.

If activities during the year pop-up and they are keeping up with their homework, we’ll address getting involved at that time. For now, we’re on an extracurricular Sabbatical and we’ll see where we net out in terms of kids having “kid time” and the family having quality family time.

How do extra curricular activities affect your family life?  How do you carve out family time during the week? Do you believe that kids today are over-scheduled?  What’s the right balance? Would you take an Extracurricular Sabbatical? Please let me know…

Wishing you a wonderful weekend with your loved ones,


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  1. I’m a believer! We made a conscious decision not to start extra curriculars until the kids were a bit older and could really appreciate them (4-5 years old, except for my son really wanting to start skating lessons after spending 2 winters watching his older sister in the ice), and our policy is not more than 1 activity per session. For example, last year my daughter took skating lessons the Fall (to get “ready” for the winter), dance lessons in the Winter, and swimming lessons in the Spring. Summer is (different) day camps the whole time we are not vacation, which provides more than enough sports, arts etc.. So far, nothing after school – all on weekends. We can barely fit in homework and dinner as it is, with both parents working full time out of the house!

    We too decided that if a child showed a particular interest/talent in a certain activity, and he/she really wanted to pursue it and make the commitment, we would revisit. What we find is that it’s not only the child in the activity that loses out on downtime, but it has an impact on the entire family, what we can do with the other child during that time, and how much time we have to do fun, memorable things as a family.

    • Glad to see we’re not alone 🙂 We feel the same way about it impacting everybody in the family’s downtime. Thanks so much for sharing, Liz!

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