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Tips on managing crazy schedules

(24 Posts)
slinkyme Tue 14-Mar-17 09:55:04

Just that really. For those whose DC are involved in competitive sports or even non sports activities that require a lot of training time during school week how do you manage schedules, homework, tiredness, health, healthy eating, sleep etc. Just feels like we are on the go all the time and playing catch up and just keeping up. Any tips from anybody?

hertsandessex Tue 14-Mar-17 13:12:46

Always have a case of wine and a big glass ready for when they've gone to sleep.

slinkyme Tue 14-Mar-17 15:16:33


ealingwestmum Tue 14-Mar-17 17:10:34

^ slinky
- Have a full fat milk (heaped with chocolate nesquik) at the ready after training
- Try and read when your child is really tired and pull a session even if you get red marks on attendance
- See the longer picture, especially if training or activity has taken a blip. If child's attitude is right and coaching is good, they'll come through it eventually
- Gauge how good your child is with multi-tasking homework, including finishing at school in breaks/lunch times. This comes first (in our house)
- Be forgiving when they are useless at getting their kit into the laundry (I am not great at excusing this one), they have probably been super organised all week to not have lost something when managing 3/4 bags of stuff and lose it when home
- Don't rise when other parents raise their eyebrows at your schedule - every child is different and its all relative to what yours is like/capable of
- If they're not enjoying it/you're really having to force them to go to their activity each time, something's wrong. No matter how talented, they have to want to do it
- Take force an early night when you get them, catch up vs the long days works
- Dont give them the opportunity when they're grown up to say I only did x because my parents wanted me to - ensure they have full ownership of their choice of activity, you're just supporting them to achieve their goals (what ever that might be, be it recreational pleasure or excelling to high level)

Whilst I am being light hearted, it is not easy. Paradoxically, whilst we have a stupidly crazy weekly schedule, it really helps with homework, keeping fit, not being ill etc. And not getting overly involved in school drama. Not to say she doesn't get odd colds etc, but they are so much more reduced compared to her non sporty peers. If there's one thing I hate the most about it all is DD eating dinner between 9 - 9.45pm on some nights, then going straight to bed. But she copes with it.

ealingwestmum Tue 14-Mar-17 17:15:31

^ was for hert's wine. For now, I need buckets of caffeine as my day also gets extended by several hours to pick up every night...

listsandbudgets Tue 14-Mar-17 17:31:10

Yup DD's is pretty crazy - Monday gardening club (school) Tuesday morning at 8.15 orchestra at school, Wednesday choir out of school, Thursday fencing at school, Friday singing lessons out of school. Don't know how this has happened but they are all things she loves and wants to do so we've drifted into chaos.

Add 4 year old DS who is at a different school into the mix and it all becomes rather confusing. Thankfully his school run a great after school club which includes a proper meal so he does not always need dinner at home and can be put to bed while dd does homework.

- I meal plan and prepare as much as possible the night before
- I lift share for activities as much as possible - choir for example I take her to fortnightly with another girl who's mum does it the other week.
- DD gets sent with snacks where necessary or if activity starts a bit later goes to after school has snack there then is picked up by me or someone else and transported to activity
- Slow cookers often feature so we have something hot and quick when we get in
- Homework is done either in the evening if time or in the mornings - we are generally up at 6.30 and leave house at 8ish which leaves plenty of time for homework after breakfast, shower and dressing
- Bed is at 9pm or earlier for dd and between 7.30 and 8 for ds

Can't wait for DS to start a range of different activities at different times grin

chaplin1409 Tue 14-Mar-17 17:34:26

It's hard going I have 4 children and only the 2 older ones do the same activities. It's crazy trying to remember who needs picking up, dropping off, how much they need. Trying to fit cooking a decent dinner is very hard too. It's crazy

Lowdoorinthewal1 Tue 14-Mar-17 17:39:40

I think maybe slinky was thinking more along the lines of 15-20hrs of swimming or gym a week rather than a few after school clubs.

I imagine it's not really a problem dropping gardening one week if you are tired, but it's not so easy to skip training for sport.

Helenluvsrob Tue 14-Mar-17 17:47:29

Not sport, but music making kids crazy busy here.

I can tell you now, having 2 at uni/ doing post grad studies, that my theory that busy kids learn to get stuff done effectively as they grow up has mostly been true. Both the big kids have had a regular singing commitment and participated in the social side of uni to the full, but still managed their academic workload fine.

Still makes me bite my nails at exam tine mind you!

ealingwestmum Tue 14-Mar-17 17:50:26

Fair point Low. I don't know how old slinky's child/ren are...we do 15 hours of one activity alone, that's without the school extra curr. stuff. I am not sure if we'll manage it as well when she hits Y10 with GCSE workload, but in Y8 we're managing. Most days at least. And I only have the one, so not the same as those with more children!

Stillwishihadabs Tue 14-Mar-17 17:57:48

Dd rides 3 nights a week and has tutoring for 11+ with all the homework that involves....
1)I try to use the time she is riding usefully, go for a swim with ds or a run so we dont feel "dragged along".
2)Forgive myself for getting drive through McDs X1 per month
3) Use the mornings for homework when she is too tired at night- we will often do an hour between 7 and 8am.

Icouldbeknitting Tue 14-Mar-17 19:43:16

My two tips are to have total control over the family calendar and to know what you're having for dinner for the next seven days. The two things mesh together, you need to be able to identify the time slot that you can drop a meal into before you can think about what to eat. Plan B is to realise early on that there is no chance of a hot meal and shop for a cold one. It took a while for DS to understand that he had to do homework NOW because he had no free evenings for the next week - his starting position was always "it doesn't need to be in for ages yet".

I made a point of never mentioning to school, friends or even family what our weekly commitments were because once they know then you can't get them to unknow. School were ignorant and happy right through to December of Y11 at which point they found out and were distinctly unhappy. He was the same child, getting the same grades and nothing had changed but the time he spent on music was time that could have been spent improving his/their grades (or in reality, playing Xbox)

I have no idea how anyone manages with more than one child. I thought about it this week and I couldn't see any way that I could have been running DS here, there and everywhere if I'd had another child to consider. My t shirt would read "We make time for the things we want to do" with the reverse as "Do the things you need to do/ Before the things you want to do". If I'd had the t shirt it would have saved me from saying this three times a week for the last ten years.

I wish there was an easy answer that would transform your life into a place of bliss and tranquility but if there is I've never found it.

se22mother Tue 14-Mar-17 20:02:08

Agree with don't mention your schedule to school or other parents or they will judge and feel there is a better use for the time. Dd has a hectic schedule of lots of music and some dance. Plan meals and make sure your freezer is well stocked.

se22mother Tue 14-Mar-17 20:02:47

Oh and write lists if what is happening/needed each day

slinkyme Tue 14-Mar-17 22:01:46

These are great tips. Thanks everybody. Feels reassuring to know that we are not the only ones with crazy schedules. I have two DC and it's my youngest (preteen) that is heavily into competitive sport. He trains at least 5 times a week and in the summer this steps up even more. He has started at a pretty academic school and so the pressure is there to keep the grades up. In all of this trying to keep levels of sleep,healthy eating etc is a juggle. Didn't realise that telling school is an issue. But now that you all mention it can see why. It's more other parents that I tend not to share this info with and especially family members. It's also a matter of juggling between me and DH to ensure both DC get attention from us both and that my DD doesn't feel undervalued as she is not in competitive sports - or at least not to the same extent.

The thing I need to get better at is the meals ie meals that are based on what is happening after school that day - tend to need snacks and dinners before and after activities and at least one of these is in the car. Where possible DS tries to do homework before going to sports activities as is pretty tired after these. However I think the quality of the work isn't always there potentially because he is rushing. He is good with multitasking and will do homework in school and whenever he gets the opportunity. But I need to keep an eye that the quality is high as school will pull
Him up if it drops.

listsandbudgets Wed 15-Mar-17 06:49:14

Sorey i misunderstood your original question.

Im not so sure about not telling the school. My half brother is involved in a dpirt at a national and potentially international standard. Its got to a stage that school have to know as he needs time off for competitions. Because the school know its authorised

Drivingmadness Wed 15-Mar-17 07:42:44

won't work well with older, but simple things like spellings (foreign languages) I try to do in the car, whilest driving. Obviously will need to be things I know....
Have meals ready that only need microwaving. Lots of easy food for vegietetables, that can be eaten in the car.

Our school has been supportive

ealingwestmum Wed 15-Mar-17 11:23:58

Good luck with it all slinky. I too am unsure on the school issue, I think it very much depends on the school and whether they approve of a child having broader interests to academia alone, or find it conflicting on their time. We are also lucky, DD's school is very supportive. There is a cross over on the sport and music that the school also benefits from, and they do ask me every term if ever DD feels under pressure re homework volume etc, to let them know. It's never we think she does too much, apart from one teacher that thinks she should get a hobby as she must spend too much time on subject x's homework grin.

Re friends and family, keeping quiet is the best thing. but it does spill out with those that that have children doing the same activity, or they just talk. Also becomes more noticeable when the declines for social stuff recur. As we've got more experienced in our activity world, it changes from early days where people thought crazy family, when does that poor kid sleep or just be to; I wish mine had a bit more drive like yours rather than sit on her phone all night. It's not meant to be malicious, but it becomes more about them reflecting on their own, than ours.

I haven't mal-nutritioned mine yet on cold pesto pasta. But I think family dynamics are so much more complex to support, including meal times with more than one child with differing timetables.

QueenofLouisiana Sat 18-Mar-17 16:33:56

We've just pulled a training session each week as DS was struggling with it all- so just 7 hours in the pool, plus land training and gym time each week now! It's made a massive difference in just the last 2 weeks- he's more focused on his other sessions, sleeping better, less ratty generally. I wish I'd read the signs earlier and dropped the session sooner.

DS's school do know that he trains a lot and they understand that sometimes a full weekend of competition might mean that he is pretty tired on a Monday. They're fine about it as long as they can mention his achievements in the newsletter smile. I tend not to talk about the schedule with non-swimming mum's as I get some funny looks- especially when you talk about the food intake and the pre-competition diet (not the calorie controlled type, the carbs and protein type). Then there's the whole "how much for a pair of trunks?!" discussion...

In terms of 'managing' it all:
DS eats a lot of hot meals from a wide necked flask in the car- mainly home made, sometimes tinned ravioli (I accept this is necessary and don't sweat it!)
DS is very good at changing in cars- the hyper mobility which is helpful for swimming comes in useful.
I am prepared to clear up a lot of kit, I never pack it though-that's part of training prep.
Healthy, easy to grab food is always available, even if I need to shop at 9.30 the night before or get it delivered at 10pm.
Homework and socialising are both important and planned for- I'd hate DS to give up the sport because he never had times for mates.
Non-swimming activities know about the demands of training. Scouts for instance accept that he goes straight from gym training so needs to have a quick wash and get changed. The accessible toilet is badd available for this at the start of each meeting.

ealingwestmum Mon 20-Mar-17 11:43:37

Good to get an update on your DS Queen and how adjustments to his schedule have made a positive difference!

Isadora2007 Mon 20-Mar-17 15:51:25

Dd hasn't reached the point yet, but I'd look into reducing school hours slightly as her training (gymnastics) hours increased if necessary.
For now it's okay as she is the only one with a busy schedule (ten hours training per week- tues, thurs and Saturday) but if her little brother wants any hobbies it could be tough fitting in around her...

mooandmama Sun 26-Mar-17 08:14:59

We've adopted the "keep quiet" approach. By the time my girl gets to school, she's usually done homework, 90mins of practise and or a music lesson plus a run/cycle and after school is all but one day. But she's super happy and people who aren't in it don't see that she could possibly choose her life without being pushed into it all.

Her school are being extremely supportive and have some concept of her life because they allow her to leave early once a week and arrive late twice plus authorised time off for competitions/exams. They've been extremely supportive. I guess this would change if she failed to keep up at school or fell asleep in class etc.

I do think an important thing is the down/recovery time- it doesn't happen often but when we have it, we exploit it to its maximum. Early nights and pj days where she wants to watch 2 movies back to back are an occasional essential.

Batch cooking is helpful too!


Noitsnotteatimeyet Sun 26-Mar-17 10:54:34

Two of my three dc have had heavy schedules. Things that have helped are lift-sharing - makes a huge difference if you're not having to make ridiculous numbers of round trips every single week - and having plenty of healthy snacks to shove into child as soon as they come out of school/finish training.

I've got a 3-week meal plan which gets rotated so we have simple, quick stuff on nights where there's a fast turnaround or late finish.

I've got much better over the years at recognising when enough's enough. Ds1 was always desperate to get back to training when he'd been ill and it took me a while to realise that he needed to recover completely otherwise his immune system couldn't cope.

And I've also got much stricter about how many activities are feasible. Dd was asked to move up a squad in swimming which would have meant clashes with riding so she had to choose and has decided just to swim at school. She still sometimes talks wistfully about how close she is to getting a county time but we have to remind her that you can't always do everything you want to ...

foundoutyet Sun 26-Mar-17 11:37:11

noitsnot: Hm same here 2of 3dc have more than 10 hours of extra curr activities, but as we live in a village, not much carsharing....(hence one of my previous name of "drivingmadness"

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