Afterschool Activities Overwhelming

Updated on April 18, 2013
A.F. asks from Norristown, PA
20 answers

I have three kids ages 6,4 and 1. Right now my 4 and 6 year old each do an activity one night during the school week, and we are usually out a third night for example for doctor appt or such. My husband travels and can't help out. I feel really overwhelmed trying to complete homework, get them out the door, go through a drive through, eat late etc. Next year, I'd like to have no activities during the school week and push them to the weekend when my husband can help. Does this sound possible?? Everyone I talk to says "good luck with that". I mean, the kids are so young. And my six year old already gets a decent amount of homework, which is a priority. Am I being unrealistic and mean? TIA!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions. To clarify, the girls are in dance, not sports. We could move dance to Saturday morning but it would mean switching teachers for one and a new school for the other, which is a big deal to my 6 year old. But I think she would adjust. You're right- if I'm feeling anxious then my kids will pick up on it. I just have to admit that I can't "Do it all" without being miserable and impatient. Thanks again!

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answers from New York on

You can do anything you want. I think you are smart to leave weekdays free. A 4 year old just needs to play. Does not need organized sport etc You are the Mom they are the kids. You call the shots.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Definitely cut back if it's an issue!

My daughter does gymnastics and cheer and I usually do a crockpot meal on those nights. It's easy for me to throw together and it's all ready when we come home! It's also nice not to have an entire kitchen to clean (just the crockpot) and a few plates.

Just a suggestion!

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Chicago on

Depends on what activities they are doing. The only thing I have my 6 & 4 yr olds signed up for right now is swimming lessons at the YMCA, and we'll be doing those on Saturday morning. Afterschool activities and my kid do not mix. He is an overtired disaster the next day.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Your kids are very young. I would cut out the extra curriculars for a while. It's not as if they even know what they really want to do in that regard yet. Who says they have to be in activity right now? No one, that's who. I bet they're content just playing and being kids and not feeling pressure to be perfect at something.

Back in "my" day kids didn't start activities until they were much older and no one suffered because of it. In fact, I think kids, parents, and families as a whole were happier and less stressed. The likelihood of your children sticking with these activities or making them into a career is not that high. It's just a time filler, and an unnecessary one at that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You could skip extra curriculars. Gasp! Really though, there is so much pressure for kids to develop special skills but somewhere in there you need to factor in quality family time and down time, and honestly, you have a baby so perhaps pick one activity for your six year old and next year your life may be more manageable to add on. If you want to stick to weekends, you can do it, but you may not have your choice of activity. It won't be team sports.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am just getting a taste of a tight schedule since late March when prong soccer started.
Practice is 5 p.m. for my five-year-old and 6 p.m. for my eight-year-old at the same place on Tuesdays, games are Sturday morning. In the fall they practiced on Fridays, it was the best!!
They started doing Wednesday choir and children activities last month. So we have two late nights where bath and dinner are late as well as bed time, 8:30 p.m.
We tried two weeks of eating at Applebees, kids eat free on Tuesdays, but it is 20 minutes from practice and service was slow.
It wasn't worth it.
So I pre-make dinner before practice so all we do is wash hands and heat it up, maybe that would help while the kids are in school? I use sectioned plates, so I can add/take away fruits and veggie stuff for easier heating if we are having a salad, apple sauce, etc.
Also maybe keep cereal bars, Graham crackers, Goldfish, water, etc. to have snacks in the car to starve off the Golden Arches.
Turn back the beds before you leave, lay out jammie, socks, underwear, set the table before you go, the less you have to do the better.
Lay out clothes for the next day, pack lunches so you can possibly cut back on feeling overwhelmed?
My eight-year-old chose to give up Girl Scouts last fall because I explained she couldn't do it all and it was too much for her to handle, especially when school comes first.
So maybe explain balance and time retrains, if that doesn't work play your trump card, "I'm the mom and I get to make decisions."
After all kids may rock but mom rules!!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Here is my typical after-school/work schedule:

Monday: Leave the house by 415 to get daughter to dance at 5, leave dance at 5 to get older son to baseball game by 515-530, go back to dance to pick daughter up at 630, and go back to catch the last half of the baseball game.

Tuesday: Leave the house as soon as possible (after kids get a snack and water) and head 30 minutes north to my daughter's physical therapy.

Wednesday: Take my older son to the ball field between 515-530 and wait until 545, head to younger son's football practice. Head back to catch the last half of the baseball game.

Thursday: Leave the house as soon as possible to get daughter to physical therapy. Leave PT to get her to dance as close to 5 as possible. Stay at dance until 8 when she is done.

Friday: Take younger son to football practice from 6-645/700.

Would I like a night at home? Sometimes, sure. But my world is my kids and they are all doing things they LOVE. I would never take it from them. We pre-cook meals a lot so we only have to heat them up the next night and we also use the crock pot. We RARELY eat out or order pizza on weeknights.

My youngest is in kindergarten and only gets a monthly project. So he is easy to take with me wherever. My older son is in second grade and he does his homework when we are at physical therapy. He gets a packet for the week, so he does Monday/Tuesday on Tuesday and he does Wednesday/Thursday on Thursday. My daughter is in 4th and she gets the most homework. Luckily she is a smart cookie and most of it comes pretty easy to her. She does her homework in the car or when we get home. It's not uncommon for her to go to bed at 9 or 930 working on homework.

However, my kids get plenty of time to play outside still and do the things they love to do in the neighborhood. How? Not sure, but it works out. They also do chores, get good grades, and are healthy.

My husband works 2 hours away, so we normally just miss each other at the baseball field. He is an assistant coach for that - we are also close friends with the coach and his family, so I'm comfortable leaving him with them.

A lot of people will say it's too much, but it's just right for us. The kids are happy and active, spend lots of time with family and friends, and enjoy their sports greatly. So I recommend to plan your meals ahead of time (whether you are a SAHM or a working mom, it's doable!!) and utilize help from others when possible.

The biggest advice I can give you though is to listen to your kids. If they say it's too much, listen to them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

What is your 6 year old's priority?

When our child came home from school, she needed down time. She was usually hungry and worn out. Then homework, then we would have dinner as a family and time to read together or her time to play with friends in the neighborhood. then bath, and bedtime.

I just do not think every child needs to be in extra activities if the family is barely able to keep up with the priorities.

It leads to stressed out families.

Since you do not have your husband or anyone to help you, it just sounds like too much.

Save the money for summer activities, camps etc.. She will be able to totally enjoy them..

Our daughter only did extra activities in the summer. She never felt like she missed out.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My friend has 3 kids.
In fact, I have many friends who have 3 kids.
What one does is:
Her husband is ALWAYS out of town for work. He cannot help it. He is hardly home. She has 3 boys.
So... she talked to her Husband. And.... he got her a part-time Nanny, to help in the evenings. Since this was the hardest time for her.
She had NO life... at all. Because, she has 3 young boys, and her husband is hardly ever, home. He travels internationally. And has super long work hours, even if he is in town.

2) What another friend does is:
The grandparents help shuttle the kids around to their afterschool or weekend activities/sports. Because, she CANNOT be in 3 places... all at the same time.

3) What another friend of mine does is:
They LIMIT... what and how many activities, their kids do.
They ONLY enroll their kids... in things IF... they can take them to it without getting too stressed... and IF, they have time for it.

4) And yes, Kids have homework. For me and my Husband, this is more important.... to have time for. Versus having our kids in ALL sorts of activities after school. My kids are 6 and 10. We do, what WE can do. Or not. Some of my daughter's classmates (5th grade) are up until midnight... just doing homework... AFTER their extracurricular activities... because it is in the evening or at night. So, their homework is secondary... to their sports. Which to me, is crazy. And thus, the kids get sleep deprived. Which to me, homework is more important.
My kids do have their activities, but it is what we can, do and handle.

5) You REALLY need, to talk to your Husband about this.
Because it is ALL on you. Per what your kids do for activities.
And that is, too much.
IF and since, your Husband cannot help... then HE SHOULD BE HELPING YOU.... and get a Nanny or something to help you.
You are a single parent.
Just like my friend.
Because, the Husband is hardly ever home, due to work demands and travel demands.

When my kids were only 4, we did not have them in organized activities yet. There is no need.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I honestly don't know how people take their kids out at night to classes. We spend an hour getting out kids to bed everynight. If they had a class, there is no way they'd be in bed at a reasonable hour. Lots of my friends even take their kids to teh grocery store! I just don't see it....But then, like you, my hubby isn't around during the week to help much.

My kids do lots of saturday activities so daddy can take them. it really makes life a lot easier.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

At this point, I would limit the activities. I remember the days watching a young toddler while at dance class with my oldest and it's no picnic. Wait until they are all older and it will be much easier to handle. Then you'll be able to plan your meals ahead of time and do a crockpot meal on the dance nights, or something else that is quick and easy. That's the only way we got through hockey season and dance. Lots of organization and meal planning! We even had to plan whether or not we'd eat before or after practice based on the changing ice times. It's busy, but possible.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

No reason they need to have any activities beyond playing outdoors at this age.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

You're not being unreasonable but you are being unrealistic. There are NO sports that only practice on the same day they have games, there are very few classes offered for kids on the weekends because most kids have games and stuff on the weekends so they do their stuff on the weekdays.

If you have to cut down you have to cut down. Not everyone is cut out to do stuff with their kids.

This month, of course it's both of us, I work 2 evenings per week at the kids gym and the kids have classes there 3 days per week.

We are doing swim lessons at the Y during the times I am at work. Hubby takes one kid with him to the Y while the other one is in class at the gym.

Other than that we did do BMX on one night per week to practice, do gate drops, and then my granddaughter raced on the weekend.

Lots of people do activities many nights of the week. I sometimes wish we could be home before 8:45 or 9 at night and still have to eat dinner. I don't get off work at least one evening per week until after 8.



answers from Boston on

You didn't say what the activities are or for how long. Is it like a swim lesson after school type thing? Maybe one of them can be on Sat which might make it easier or can you trade off w someone who could watch the one year old while you go to an activity? My 6 yr old does 3 activities a week, one of them on Sat and usually one play date too, she has about 15 min homework 4 nights/week.


answers from Rochester on

If your children are as stressed by this routine as you sound to be, I doubt whether whatever fun they are getting out of said activities outweighs the anxiety caused by them. :(

During the school year, my daughter has one activity a week, and it's after supper...and she's 8. I generally reserve summer for a slew of activities and other things.

You have to decide what you want to do...but will you feel a ton better if you can just sit back, breathe, and think "Gee, we can just stay in, eat a nice healthy meal instead of rushing through a garbage meal, take our time, do our homework, enjoy each other's company, have a leisurely bedtime routine..." etc... ? If so, go for it. Who cares what anyone else thinks. ;) Children do not have to have extracurriculars at 4 and 6 to be socially well-adapted.



answers from Dallas on

You don't specify what the activities are, so it's hard to answer definitely. I suppose it's possible, but not probable. I can understand the craziness these activities can cause. Because of his schedule, my hubby can't help too much during the week either.

And pushing all activities to the weekend can make a time to "catch up", hectic and crazy. It also cuts in to other fun things. We've had to turn down a few birthday parties and events because of baseball commitments.

This year our baseball practice is on Sunday. My first thought was "Great! One less weekday event." Now I wish it were during the week. These practices cut into family time and seem to interfere with things we have planned or want to do.

Instead of trying to push everything to the weekend. I'd see if you can find a better system that may work. Easier said than done, I know. I rely on the crock pot and careful meal planning. It doesn't work now, but I have also rotated duties with another busy mom in the past. And there are nights where something has to give and we skip a game or skip a practice. I know that's not ideal, but sometimes you do what you have to do.

Good luck mama.



answers from Los Angeles on

Is there a way to get the girls dancing on the same night? If you can somehow put them in back to back lessons, it would probably make your week feel much calmer. Otherwise, I think switching to Saturdays is best, even if it means an adjustment period with new teachers and schools. No matter what you do, get them dancing at the same school and, ideally, on the same day of the week.

Can your oldest do her homework in the kitchen while you make dinner? That way, you're available to help and check things over, but you can get dinner going at the same time.

I'm terrible at meal planning, but I have some friends who are really good at it. One friend sits down on Sunday morning and plans her meals for the week. She then does all the shopping and most of the prep work on Sunday afternoon/evening. She chops vegetables, assembles casseroles, fully cooks what she can, etc. She makes it so there is very little prep work to do each night and she can get a meal on the table very quickly. You might benefit from subscribing to a website like 6:00 Scramble to get you started.


answers from Grand Forks on

I suppose it is possible. We do our activities during the week so we won't be bored during the week, and the weekends are free for fun, but if you have too much during the week, then sure, move everything to the weekend. The problem then is that you never have free time on the weekend to go on family outings, or go away or just relax.



answers from Chicago on

your not being unreasonable. however if they do a sport ex: baseball the games are always on weeknights and if your really lucky a saturday. soccer games are almost always on saturday mornings but the practices are during the week. dance classes are on the weekends if you get one of the spots in a class that meets then. the children I nanny for do some activities thru the school which are held immediately after school. so they have chess club, young athletes and a program called stars these are held from 335 to 5pm 1 night a week each. they each also do a sport so they go from the after school activity to the sport and the games are on the weekend. your best bet will be to get everyones activities to be on the same night at the same place. so soccer or swimming etc at the same place same time.



answers from Harrisburg on

You are NOT being unrealistic or mean to push activities to the weekend. At your kids' ages, kids don't need so many structured activities anyway. (As your kids get older, it will be tougher to move things around, but it should work for now.) Your kids are pretty young to be so involved.

I feel your pain. My husband travels all the time as well. I only have 2 kids (who are both teens), but I'm out every night - shuttling them somewhere.
The one thing that has saved me at times is carpooling. Were it not for neighbors to split the driving with, it just wouldn't be possible. If you can't cut back on the activities, can you find a neighbor to share the driving with you?

It IS overwhelming. Tonight, my 13 year old has to cancel her riding lesson, and I'm celebrating. A rare night at home is a blessing. :)

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