The Nutcracker and Basketball

Today I write to you as a tired, worn out mom, who’s exhausted from too many late nights from my children’s extracurricular activities.

How many of you have children involved in after school activities? At our house we’ve hit a super busy week full of activities. My daughter is in the local Nutcracker performance and she has 7 straight days of dress rehearsals and shows. The first two days were evening dress rehearsals, from 4:30-8:30pm. I was the room mom for the first nights so I was with her during that time. That 4-hour block, of course doesn’t take into account the time it takes to do her makeup and hair as well as eating dinner. The first night we started getting ready at 3 and got home at 9, on the second night we got home slightly earlier. I really enjoyed being with her and the other dancers back stage, but it left me tired and exhausted too. Now, I know that its performance week and so the rehearsals need to be longer, but it’s hard to get a 11 year old home at 9pm, into bed and functioning the next day. I also know I chose to let her participate and that I knew what we were getting into with late rehearsals, but that doesn’t make the daytime any easier as she’s melting down from exhaustion. 

To add to our schedule, my middle son who is 9, just started basketball. His practices were supposed to start the week after Nutcracker but something happened and they started during this busy rehearsal/performance week. His first practice was the same night as my daughter’s first dress rehearsal. My husband is coaching the team so he had to take my 6 year old son with him too since I was busy being the room mom. The practice schedule, given to my husband, had their first practice scheduled from 8-9pm and the practice gym is located about 20 minutes from our house. 8-9 pm!!! He’s only 9 years old!  Getting to bed at 9:45 is way past his bedtime. This late night practice did not bode well for him the next day either. Not to mention the six year old, whose normal bedtime is 7pm, that had been drug to practice and climbed into bed extra late.

My son loves basketball and my daughter enjoys being part of the performance and so it’s hard for me to decide what they should and shouldn’t be allowed to participate in. Maybe someday they could make a career in ballet or basketball, who am I to know? But for now, I need them to function in school each day. One of the mom’s on my son’s team had a great response to the email we received with the 8-9pm practice time, she responded, “is that a typo?” At least someone else thought an 8-9pm practice for elementary school kids sounded crazy too. 

My next struggle is a “don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” concept. I wouldn’t want to complain or downgrade the experience my children are having with their after school activities. Their coaches and teachers have put countless hours into bettering their coaching skills and preparing for these rehearsals and practices. They have given of their own time and energy to teach my children. I just haven’t found the balance of how to prioritize activities, sleep and school, not to mention the effort it took to squeeze in some family dinners this week.

I’m a classroom teacher by trade, and I’ve seen the effects of these late nights on my students as they try to function the next day in school. With school age kids of my own now, I have become a homeschooling mom. Many people just assume that maybe we took the week off from school. We didn’t. We have school deadlines and expectations from the Charter school we work with as well. I will say that there have been some benefits this week, since my kids are home. Mornings have been a little slower, as there isn’t a specific time to get out the door. I am thankful that after a morning of work, they’ve gotten a few moments of downtime to relax after lunch, before heading out for afternoon classes and other school activities.

I am just a little baffled by idea that our children are supposed to get up early, spend the day schooling (however that looks for your family), head out to activates and evening practices, cram in dinner somewhere in there, and after a late night of running around, get up the next morning and do it all again. How will the expectation of a 6:30am to 9:30pm schedule for my 9 and 11 year olds, impact the expectations they place on themselves as college students and into adulthood. How will the schedules I’m allowing them to adopt now, effect the choices they make for their own children years from now?

My other question today, is when is it time to listen to the burn out? At what point do we say start saying no to practices being from 8-9? As an adult, I couldn’t go to they gym from 11pm-midnight and expect to wake up at 6am ready to function. I didn’t have activities like this when I was their age and I worry that we’re expecting too much of our children.  Have we become a culture that is more focused on resume building than building balance in our lives? Are we teaching our children that they have to be involved in everything to feel adequate in society? I was talking with another family member, whose daughter had signed up for softball in the 4th grade. She’d never done it before and was looking forward to learning. What none of us realized was that almost all of the girls on her team had been playing since they were little and so they no longer taught basic skills, but instead focused on improvement? They did offer extra clinics on Sundays, but that was in addition to the practices that the girls already attended during the week. It got us discussing this idea of the pressure to pick your sport at such a young age. Where did we depart from a society that our children could try things out, well into junior high before picking something they may want to focus more on?

Not every basketball practice will be that late, as the teams rotate so they each take turns having early times and late times. I just feel like I want to stand up and say no to late night practices! I want to find other families who agree and start our own league with 4pm practices. But that will take energy and resources as well.  Picking between family time and activity time, is just a hard place to be in. We’re doing the best we can to find a balance and protect our family time too. We’re trying to get creative with our schedules and find time for all of it.

So any suggestions, ideas, answers to my many questions, would be much appreciated! We’re in this together! Let’s make sure to support each other through motherhood and crazy schedules today!

Copyright 2018 Courtney Vallejo. All Rights Reserved. 

Image Credit: 2018 Courtney Vallejo. All Right Reserved.