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caedmyn

larger familes with a range of ages--how do you schedule appts/activities

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I have 6 kids, ages 6 mo to 13 (my signature isn't accurate). It seems like no matter when something is scheduled, it messes up our entire schedule for the day.  Multiply that by 3 or 4 days a week, and I start wanting to hole up at home and never go out.  We currently have 2 reguarly-scheduled afternoon activities (speech therapy one day and kids go to a sitter's a different day), and are now doing a late morning activity on yet another day for the next couple months.  I have an evening appt every other week, we have midweek church one evenings, and my oldest has youth group Friday evenings. Then there's any random appts or activities, which usually works out to one a week or every other week.  And my older kids want to do jui jitsu which would be at least 2 afternoons a week...but I don't think I have the bandwidth for that.  How do you plan appts or activities without messing up your entire family's routine?  Any sort of after-dinner activity guarantees that I'll get to bed later than I want to.  There just doesn't seem to be any reasonable way to plan things.

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I just gave in and did them anyway. Yeah, the kids were up later than ideal a few nights a week. They lived. We scheduled all the outside stuff, and then scheduled our HOME stuff around that. Yes, I know that seems backwards, but I can't change things like orchestra and running. I can work around them though. We had the advantage of only living 15 minutes from town. With the older two who weren't driving yet, there were days I dropped them at the college for swimming and lessons, then they walked to their jobs at the library, and then walked back to the college. I did the happy dance when they got their licenses, but then had a gap when the oldest two were gone. We found the hardest years were ones that they were taking classes at 14, but weren't driving yet. 

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We just live on a constant merry-go-round of chaos.

More seriously, our family kind of cycles through phases of go-go-go followed inevitably by cutting way back to a more manageable pace for a time followed by ramping back up again.

 

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Scheduled activities have to be scheduled first.  Everything else has to work around that.

I have recently found that I can be more successful if I am very adamant that certain time slots for doctor's appointments won't work.  I have learned not to consider my entire schedule open and I have gotten really good at saying, "I'm sorry.  Wednesdays don't work.  I'm sorry.  Mornings don't work, either."  And I schedule as many appointments together as possible, such as all the kids to the dentist on the same day.

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Add me to the ‘do them all’ pile.  Right now it’s mostly therapy and piano and that’s making it three to four nights out a week, including our group bible study.  So not much in the way of fun or sports, but there is no place to fit it this school year.

 

I used to be very intentional about grouping things on certain days and I still am - Monday and Tuesday have the bulk of our medical and stuff.  But I couldn’t totally control the spread onto other weeknights recently and that’s just how it is.

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We are similar-my kids are 12 down to 1. I think it's all about being intentional and being very very picky with what you DO do!

I loooove our quiet nights at home. I treasure them in fact. Tonight was one-no activities. We played King of Tokyo. But having growing kids means more activities and time with peer groups. I get that although some days I'd love to rewind when we all just were together every single night and they had no idea that there was a world outside of our walls. But, we roll with the punches around here and when things get crazy, we say "whoa" and scale back.

We try to find what the one thing is that makes our kids' tick and then find the very best program/coach/place that offers that activity. Yes, baseball eats away a ton of time, but we found the best coach and our boys get what we believe to be the best experience. It's the same with each kid-find the best quality program and forget the mediocre ones.(We left 4H this year and it's been complete bliss!) We do have the usual rules of 1 sport at a time, etc so nothing crazy. But having 6 kids just simply means a lot of activities no matter how you slice and dice it. 

I try to remind myself that someday I will look at a baseball field and fondly remember the days I hauled 6 kids to Timbuktu and broke the rules with our huge cooler full of food. I will watch a middle school band and the memory of a tune of my 6th grader's trumpet will serenade my heart, or I will look at a little girl in a cute gymnastics leotard and remember the joy on my girls' face when they did their first cartwheel.

I know it's hard-man, it's hard. But just try to find that one (or two) thing(s) that light up each child-and go with it. The time will pass quickly as you know.

 

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We've tried to limit activities to the fewest days a week possible.  Several years it was every day of the week and other years it was nothing other than doctor's appointments and church services.  

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As much as possible I do not schedule anything until after 3pm. If we have something cut into our school day...forget about getting back on track (more on my end than the dc's). Twice/year we hit the dentist but we take school with us and camp out in the waiting area or break room (staff is great about setting my crew up). Appointments might happen over our lunch break if possible. I allow two activities per semester and those involve multiple dc. This semester most of my crew are in a play and Kenpo. I am kind of fanatical about finding stuff that many/most of the kids can do together because I tried the going-multiple-directions thing once...not happening. I jealously guard at least 3 evenings where we only do something as a family. Adjusting our bedtime to later has freed up chances for us to go to the Y when it is empty at 8pm and not stress about having to get kids in bed.

There are, as others have said, seasons of busyness followed by seasons of less rush and stress. I can handle random appointments here and there and up to 4 afternoon/evening activities per week. But we have to say 'no' to some things or at least 'not now'. Because those lovely evenings at home playing a game or just staying in are refreshing for all of us.

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Honestly? With 5 who also spannned 12 years, my life was just a mess of insanity until the oldest ones were able to stay home with a younger one or two. We didn't do a whole lot of activities, but even just a handful was a lot. When #5 required frequent specialist appointments in a different state for months on end, I thought I might completely lose it!

As an eldest child (but only of 3) it was important to me that my first few kids didn't completely miss out just because they had younger siblings. I do highly recommend saying no to having 4 kids on 4 different Little League team.  Just saying!

But I mostly just want to say, it does get better!

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Well, in a couple of years oldest will be driving and sister, let me tell you, the heavens will open and the birds will sing and your life will change!!! 😁

But until that glorious day, the way we handled it was just not to do as many activities. I know that's not the right choice for everybody, so YMMV. But for us, the moderate benefits of activity X on kid B simply did not outweigh the large to severe negative effects on kids A, C, D, and E, as well as on me and DH and the family at large.

We were not hermits, don't get me wrong. We did weekly speech and debate (fall) and drama (winter/spring) which are activities all the kids could participate in at the same time with others at their level. And we have an active church social life so the kids still had ample time with their non-homeschool friends, as did DH and me. But we made a conscious choice not to join the rat race of activities.

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