Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

We learned the hard way that the worst thing to do is allow our kids to be over-involved in extra-curricular activities. We place a strong emphasis on academics and stand firm even when needled, bribed, or begged.

Homework comes first.

Our oldest son was on the basketball team. It was easy to manage after-school practices and weekly games. Our oldest daughter was a cheerleader. Even though that was her only extra-curricular activity, it took more of her time than we ever thought possible. There were often two or three games a week, countless late nights, a class hour of dedication, and daily after-school practice. I can’t even imagine what life would have been like if there had been more than the one activity.

We communicated clearly to Kira that she has chosen to take this on, and that we would support her, but her studies were equally important. We made sure she understood that we would not defend her to a teacher if she forgot an assignment or got behind on homework. We expected her to keep up with her studies. We made her responsible for her time—we kept a big calendar where she could to write in the times, dates, and locations of events.

At the time, we also had three other kids at home, so managing (juggling) everyone’s demands was difficult.

But limiting our kids to one sport was the right decision (the kids are also allowed to be in choir).

We’ve continued the practice with the younger kids. Parker has guitar lessons (once a week, easy to manage). Anika has dance lessons (three times a week plus an entire weekend consumed in June for performances – what is it with our girls?!)

Regardless of the demands your kids place on you, here are some tips to stay organized during the school-year chaos:

  • Make homework the first priority when kids get home from school.
  • Set out clothes and backpacks the night before.
  • Pack lunches at night while cleaning up from dinner.
  • If you have a shortage of bathroom space, get the kids up at staggered times—no sense in having all of them try to get to the bathroom at once
  • Refuse to rush out the door without a taking moment of time for yourself – coffee, meditation, or exercise – whatever starts your day right.
  • Share as many dinners as possible catching up on each other’s accomplishments and activities.

We have 151 more days of school before the chaos ends. Between now and then, there will be frazzled nerves, juggled schedules, and priority shuffling…but I’ve learned that it goes awfully fast, so I try to enjoy every moment.