How Do Parents Survive The Hamster Wheel Of Extracurriculars? … Asking For A Friend

Let me start by saying that I think in my case, ignorance is bliss. When my kids were babies, I used to fantasize about how fun it would be to cart them around to all their extracurricular activities. I would daydream about how cute we would all look, filing out of the SUV, cleats on, and water bottles in hand. Maybe I would even become besties with some of the moms the way my mother-in-law had become close to the moms on my husband’s high school wrestling team. (They call themselves the “Mom Squad” and they still vacation together to this day … 20 years later). But here’s the thing … fantasy can sometimes be better than reality.

My reality, now that my kids are 8 and 6, and doing ALLL the things, is that I’m a glorified chauffeur who rarely knows whether I’m coming or going. Let’s not even talk about trying to keep up with work, homework, dinner, and miscellaneous things around the house … ha! The best way I can describe how it makes me feel is that I’m running on a hamster wheel with no way off. And the cage (aka my car) needs to be cleaned BIG TIME. There are shoes, shin guards, random articles of clothing from occasionally changing in the car, and old bits of food (gross but true) from snacks eaten en route to all these activities. 

How Do Other Parents Do It?

This is a question I often ask myself. I can’t be the only one on the struggle bus, right? Maybe someone should invent an app for this. You can pick your ballpark, league, or organization, then select a sport or sports, list how many children you have in said sports and VOILA! … you’ve been matched with another parent with the exact same schedule. It can be like but for soccer moms (or whatever extracurricular your clan is into). I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a pretty solid idea. I would do it myself, but tech is not my forte. 

Fret Not, There’s An Upside 

The upside to all this chaos is that it’s keeping my kids active and teaching them life lessons about sportsmanship, discipline, and work ethic. It’s getting them outside, breathing fresh air, and soaking up lots of vitamin D. I don’t know about you, but I personally think all of these things are vital for the overall health of our kids, especially coming off an unprecedented pandemic where childhood anxiety, depression, and obesity are at an all time high.  

And the truth is that one day I will miss this. I will miss kissing their sweaty foreheads after a Saturday morning tournament. I’ll miss the excitement on their faces when their team scores a goal, or they get a pin on the wrestling mat. There will come a day when I wish I had cleats, old food, and miscellaneous clothing in my car. And there will come a day where I long to be chauffeuring kids all over the continent. Life is funny that way. It’s HARD, HARD when you’re in the thick of it, but then it’s over almost before it started and you’re left feeling heartbroken because you were too stressed and busy to appreciate the chaos.

Embrace the Chaos

So my hope for myself and every other parent is this. I hope that we can lean on each other and truly be the village that people speak of when they discuss raising children. I hope that we can find joy in the chaos, and realize how special and important it is to our kids that we are there. I hope that all these extracurriculars keep our kids’ minds, bodies, and souls healthy. And I hope that we can slow down enough to truly cherish the seemingly irrelevant time we spend with our kids while we are carting them to God knows where. It might not seem like much, but if you add all the minutes we spend in the car, that’s a lot of quality time we can spend with our kids.

It’s time we can ask them about their day and hear all the gossip. Some days we might get animated stories about what they learned or who they played with. Other days we might listen as they speak through tears about a test that didn’t go so well or a friend they had a quarrel with. Either way, it’s time we can let them know we are always there to listen, to share in their joys and their sorrows, and to provide advice. It’s a time they can simply be themselves, and not worry about homework, successes, failures, friendships, or anything else. So hang in there Mommas and Daddies, you got this! 


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