I could use some advice…

As a father of three; two boys (8 & 6) and a daughter (3), you can imagine that life can get a little crazy.  My wife and I both work full time, which in 2010 is typically defined as 55 hours per week, right?  Add to that work schedule a “kid’s sports” schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (not including game days) where hockey and soccer practices run until dark and finally, as most of the parents of my generation have done; we continue to overload and overburden our kids with the random Cub Scout meeting, a “play date” and some homework/reading before bed.

If you get a chance, look into the trailer for Race to No Where www.racetonowhere.com and you’ll see what we are doing to our kids!  The main focus of my blog is to share personal stories and sometimes struggles with my inability to balance life and work, while maintaining the title of Active and Supportive Father, so I am hoping to hear from other parents who struggle the same way and maybe this site can become a “haven” for the overstretched and overloaded as we work to a common goal of finding some tips to balancing the journey of life.  It is clear that society doesn’t make it easy to have a stay at home parent these days, so the “best laid plans” of working from 9am to 430pm, having dinner with the family at 5pm and then skipping and singing our way to soccer practices just isn’t reality.

In contrast, it is more accurate to say that I typically race home (while on a conference call), fly into the house and shout for someone to pick something up and get a uniform on and when they don’t listen the first time, yelling and throwing things (soft things) can help generate more chaos and make me feel like I’m motivating the troops.  Our family continues its passionately loud discussion related to who will eat what for dinner, how fast they can eat it and then we RACE out the door, jump into a car (I go one way) my wife goes another direction and when schedules are really crazy my father-in-law shoves off in a third direction.  Some time around 830pm we get home, get the kids showered, pass out in bed around 10pm and before we know it, the alarm clock is firing at 6am.

If this lead in made you smile and/or nauseous…congratulations, you’re probably in the same boat (because if you don’t have kids, the drama in this article would have made you stop reading and probably stop having sex for a couple of weeks for fear of embarking on the same kind of chaos in the future)!

Your help is requested.  If you are a parent and you have found ways to simplify life, please add your comments! 

The moral of this article:  Simple is good.  I recognize that I am guilty of over scheduling and over committing my children, which in turn, makes our lives (as parents) even crazier.  My wife and I are working to simplify the demand for formal activities and replace them with “play at the park”, hikes on the weekends and time with friends.  After all, what I’ve seen thus far as a parent; our kids may enjoy all of the activities and time with their friends, but at this age, they would trade it all for more time with the family!

3 thoughts on “I could use some advice…

  1. You do sound like every other parent in the work place with young kids. I am amazed that civilization doesn’t crash and burn from exhaustion. Do you limit your children’s activities to allow you to have some “down time”? Would that punish them or become detrimental in their 2010 state of normalcy? I don’t know Trav…but I will tell you that I couldn’t do it. I am happy to share that our youngest is 17 and graduating from High School. Sigh…light at the end of the tunnel. Good luck!

  2. Travis- well, you have described many of our lives in your blog. We too struggle daily with how we can simplify the balance between work, family, school and activities. Our kids are now 14, 12 and 7. We have basketball, soccer and lacrosse and then a few clubs at the high school level! I will have to say that it is organized chaos at any given moment at our house and if anyone ever showed up announced it would put a wrench in the whole schedule!

    One thing we have done is made a committment to go boating/camping together as a family. We have a camper that we keep on a lake in KY. This is our little get away just about every weekend in the summer and frequently after Saturday soccer games in the fall. This is a place where we can all do a little bit of what we enjoy and escape reality for a little while. It brings us together playing games or trying new tricks on the knee board or wakeboard.

    Another thing we do is that about 90% of nights we all have dinner together. We may eat a bit later than the typical family, but it too brings us together at the table to talk about our day, what’s coming up, etc. We feel that this is very important at the end of the day.

    Third, carpools are necessary to drag 3 kids all over town to all of their activities. I used to think we could do it all….. but the fact is I cannot! We try to have carpools to everything and it’s not that bad if you miss a practice or a game if it’s not your day to drive! Don’t feel guilty.

    Fourth, you have to have a balance of kid stuff vs. adult stuff. Bill and I make time to do the things we enjoy. He likes to fish and hunt and I support that (as long as I don’t have to go!). I play tennis for my escape from reality and although it interfers with some of the household chores I feel like I need it for sanity! It’s hard to juggle work for both of us, kid activities and school and a few hobbies for each of us, but it keeps us from feeling that all we do is kid stuff. They are only little for so long and we all need to keep our self identity!

    Lastly, I am really looking forward for our oldest to turn 16! With one more driver in this house it will cut down on the places I have to run to!

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