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To want to scale it right back

(50 Posts)
TheSandyAtom Fri 17-Jun-16 19:22:38

DCs are 8, 5, 2. They do a dazzling array of activities. It is constant. Eldest is at prep and has tonnes of homework, most of which I can't see the point of. My youngest is spending her toddlerhood in the car - by the time we've fitted in school runs for 2 separate schools, plus naps and meals, there is so little time left. I feel like we never do anything "nice", as in just hanging out together, going to the park, baking or reading or playing board games. This is not what I imagined at all. The children (my eldest in particular) no longer seem like bonded siblings; often they have only a few minutes of family time together in a day.

I want it to stop. I want to quit all of the after school activities other than swimming and one musical instrument (which DC1 genuinely loves and seems to have a talent for). I want to pull DC1 out of his prep (which I am underwhelmed by anyway, although where he is fairly happy) and send him to the outstanding state primary he used to go to, and where his little sister is (I have spoken to them - they have space). There would be less homework, a later start in the morning, an earlier finish, no Saturday school. The same sports day, holidays, shows, parents evenings. We could walk to school together (it's ten mins from the house). We could go to the park every (dry) day on the way home. I hope he'd feel "mine" again.

I wouldn't be unreasonable, would I? This isn't just what it is like when your children get a little older? Everyone we know seems to have a similarly hectic schedule of activities, but my childhood was a glorious 1980s chasm of free time, a little boredom, lots of playing at home with siblings in a really unfocused way. We were happy. So happy. I feel as if we've somehow joined a small person rat race and it's madness. DH struggles to see past the "get them into a good school" mentality that prevails among our friends, and the pressure to teach small children to play golf, rugby, tennis (surely if they are generally active they'll pick these things up fine a teens if they have an interest?).

TheSandyAtom Fri 17-Jun-16 19:59:24

You're all out watching DCs' ballet lessons, aren't you?

WellErrr Fri 17-Jun-16 20:01:00

Nah, scale it all back. Playing in the garden is where it's at.

AyeAmarok Fri 17-Jun-16 20:05:32

I'd scale it back too.

It doesn't sound like this is best for anyone in your family.

Why is your DS in a prep and your DD isn't? Out of curiosity?

TheSandyAtom Fri 17-Jun-16 20:08:05

Just age, Amarok. Plan is/was to move DD next year. But actually, I am coming to the conclusion that (although far less glossy) the state school is better, happier, and will give them a better childhood (partly by leaving us with far more family time).

KleineDracheKokosnuss Fri 17-Jun-16 20:09:30

Go with your gut. I'd scale it back too.

Dumbledoresgirl Fri 17-Jun-16 20:09:34

I don't mean this in a nasty way, but why did you take him out of the outstanding primary and put him into the prep in the first place? By which I mean, you must have had reasons, do they no longer stand?

It does sound a bit frenetic. I sent my youngest to the same school as his older siblings even though he alone of them all could have got a place at a better school, simply because I couldn't be bothered with 2 school runs.

altiara Fri 17-Jun-16 20:14:05

Definitely scale it back. I'm thinking that with only 2 children blush and they go to the same school blush. I think I'd like to return my children and get them back next year after I've had a rest wine

ApocalypseSlough Fri 17-Jun-16 20:14:37

What do they do now?

TheSandyAtom Fri 17-Jun-16 20:15:59

Honestly, Dumbledore, we sent him to DH's old prep because this was always the plan. On paper it is an amazing school (in reality I think a lot of this is for show - more for parents than for the children; an awful lot is expected of them at a young age, and I'm not sure why it is necessary). DC1 is academic, as is the prep, but I'm fast concluding that he'd be fine anywhere and that doing the hardest possible maths isn't the main thing. I feel quite blush now that I did not really think through what the best solution would actually be for all of us.

Obviously things will improve a little if DD1 ultimately joins DS - but then DD2 might as well be an only child for all she'll see of her siblings.

shiveringhiccup Fri 17-Jun-16 20:18:14

Definitely scale back, sounds exhausting and family time is precious!

What would ds think about changing school?

witsender Fri 17-Jun-16 20:18:14

Yanbu tbh, it doesn't sound like a childhood.

TheSandyAtom Fri 17-Jun-16 20:23:49

DS is quite open to changing school. He likes his school, but also liked the old school. And I think he's really tired, and would love to get home every day at 3.30 and just play in the garden.

Too much to list, Apocalypse! Because they don't double up on anything we have something every night and Saturday until early afternoon. I'm done!!

ILostItInTheEarlyNineties Fri 17-Jun-16 20:40:56

Scale it back, let them be children, they must be exhausted (!) and as you say, that's no life for a toddler stuck in the car.

FirstWeTakeManhattan Fri 17-Jun-16 20:42:53

From what you say, OP, I honestly don't think you'd look back.

Sibling relationships was a factor in our schools/education decision. They do need time together, having fun and being bored so they make up mad games.

SisterConcepta Fri 17-Jun-16 20:43:27

Do it. You're caught up in the neurotic modern parent bubble where downtime is viewed in a negative light where in fact it is so important.

TooLazyToWriteMyOwnFuckinPiece Fri 17-Jun-16 20:46:15

You sound like you are close to making a very happy childhood for them. The one they have now sounds mad.

RubbleBubble00 Fri 17-Jun-16 20:48:13

I have three similar ages. We only do swimming on a saturday and football onews week night. They do afterschool clubs but they finish by 4. At least once a wk we blow off hw to do something fun, even more so now the weather is nice

gerbo Fri 17-Jun-16 20:53:44

We have recently scaled back from my daughter having 6 hobbies per week to 4 which has freed up 2 weekday evenings and its great. I'd highly recommend it. She's 9 and ds is 6. Now that he's starting to do hobbies (swimming, cricket, beavers) I'm feeling exhausted and swamped again. May have another cull!

I would say please do it, speaking as a child ferried about every day for hobbies and siblings' hobbies. It's tiring for everyone. Gives a shiny CV, yes, but not sure it's the best way to do things.

We are thinking this through lots too. There was a good Guardian article recently called 'Raising Hell' which talked about this crazy pace of family life and it resonated with us big time. Our culling will continue (!) until I feel we have a good balance. We lost chess club and brownies already! I work ft and it think that adds to my exhaustion, which leads to grumpiness from me; it's just not good.

Scale back, OP!

RabbitSaysWoof Fri 17-Jun-16 20:58:52

I would scale it back too.

TheSandyAtom Fri 17-Jun-16 21:00:52

Thanks for the encouragement. It really feels like we'd be going against the grain of what our friends do. Believe it or not, my DS actually has fewer activities than many of his classmates (e.g. he swims with school, so we don't do extra swimming although almost all of his schoolfriends do). But I do think it's time to stop. I really can't believe that having golf lessons aged 8 is important for his "career" (as a school gate mum recently tried to suggest). Whereas I think playing silly garden games with his sister with no particular time pressure must build a better foundation for long term happiness.

Sukebind Fri 17-Jun-16 21:19:00

Yes, I think you are right, too. I would love to be in a position to send my dc to private school but actually I know they are doing fine at their non-fee paying school. I wish I could afford drama for my dc2 and horse riding and things but I also know that the activities they do are enough. Children need to play and rest to socialise, to learn, to be creative and just be. I think you are being very wise.

Chewbecca Fri 17-Jun-16 21:23:21

reading your posts really strongly indicates you know what to do, you don't have any reasons not to scale back, only loads of great reasons to do it. Is your DH supportive?

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Fri 17-Jun-16 21:23:48

I think you are doing the right thing, no doubt at all in my mind. DS only does two activities a week, that's enough for him and for us. As he gets older and can get to things under his own steam that may change, but it's enough for now.

How do you think DH will feel?

TheSandyAtom Fri 17-Jun-16 21:40:45

DH is not unsupportive - not exactly, anyway. I have made numerous attempts to have a real discussion with him about it, and he keeps deferring to me. Which is not entirely unreasonable as he works long hours and is usually not around until the children's bedtime - all of the ferrying about falls to me. The school move is obviously the big issue though, and I do wish I could feel that it was a joint decision which he was 100% behind. At the moment I'm getting an "if you think it would be best" type of response. Although, being fair to him, he is snowed under at work and could probably do without me constantly pestering him to discuss it.

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