As I was sitting here, going over today's "TO DO" list, I found myself spending a good 30 minutes texting my tween girls (who were riding the school bus on the way to school) and then emailing with their friends' parents in order to RSVP to the many, many social events for them that, in recent years, seem to stack up at the end of the school year. Whew! Suddenly, I felt like their secretary or assistant!
With my overly active imagination, I pictured myself sitting at a desk, taking phone calls, receiving the many invites and details, and then phoning my "bosses" to relay those details -- and receive instruction from them on how to handle them. Sounds silly, but lately, it's not too far off from reality. Well, except for the fact that I don't receive a paycheck for the position. But really, what mom does? All joking aside, since my girls have entered middle school, I have been spending tons of additional time in my vehicle driving to and from the sports fields, figuring out game and practice logistics, and scheduling all of the above mentioned social and school related events! These girls have SO much going on!
So, naturally, my mind wanders to my six just-turned 9-year-olds -- and their schedules. To date, I've managed to keep their events mostly under control, but I know that soon enough, I'll be adding more and more events to their schedules. And that, added to my tweens schedules, will be more than I can humanly handle ... and just between you and me, this has been one (of the many) days I've dreaded for a very long time! How does ONE human mother get ALL the logistics worked out so that ALL EIGHT children get to and from where they want and need to go? Gulp. I'm in trouble. And I know it.
Because I have already figured out that sports and social schedules are WAY out of my control and often are not able to be planned far in advance (which I hate), I've decided to do what I can to maintain somewhat of a schedule around those things that are rather "unschedulable" (and no, that word is not found in the dictionary, but I've decided to use it anyway!). SO, I have started to carry large supplies of bottled water and snacks, fold-up chairs for sports spectatorship, extra blankets, and comfortable shoes along with me wherever I go. It's my very own custom made contingency supply stash for those "just in case" kind of days. I've also ramped up my "cook one meal for today and freeze one for a busy crazy day" philosophy because when I wrangle eight kids home after a long day of school and social and sports stuff, they're extra hungry!
On these days, I go from bus driver to chef in the blink of an eye! Eight "starving" mouths still expect a hearty warm meal despite the fact that the "chef" has been MIA all day, filling in for the "bus driver," if you know what I mean! Having a defrosted meal that's ready to bake or even one waiting in the Crock-Pot helps that role transition on the busiest of days. You may be reading this thinking, "yep, I've been there" but this is a relatively new phase for me and one that I have a feeling is only going to get worse. And faster. And more furious. And way more out of control. I'm a planner and a scheduler. I like everything on a list with all the details sorted out way ahead of time ... And don't worry, I'm busy every day doing whatever I can to streamline this process and figure out how I can "nail this all down" ... and, well, okay, better CONTROL it.
But for now -- and you may find this as shocking as I do -- I'm just letting it flow. I'm trying to enjoy some spontaneity (well, that pretty much only happens when things miss getting scheduled and they surprise me, lol) and the many opportunities for instant problem solving that occur as a result. I do enjoy the problem solving aspect for sure. As a result, sometimes we eat dinner on a weekend night at 7:30 p.m. because I didn't have time that day to prepare it ahead of time. Good thing it doesn't get dark until almost 8:30 p.m. now, right? Because of the longer days, no one really notices just how late it is as they are munching away on one of my home-cooked healthy meals.
Sometimes we get home late on a school night and everyone quickly packs their own lunch in a mad race to get to bed! I oversee it and we make it a game -- flinging cookies, packages of chips, yogurt cups, and servings of carrots across the room to each other in a frantic and loud, yet somewhat orderly, process (if you look real close, there really is a method to our madness). It gets done, that's all that matters. And I appreciate the help. I'm starting to figure out that as school, social, and sports events threaten to dismantle our orderly home routine, it's somehow serving to strengthen our family team. That saying "many hands make light work" comes to mind. Where I once did it all with very minimal help, now it's more of a team approach. Here's the problem, how can we solve it together? It's working. I like it.
We may seem a wee bit more "helter-skelter" these days, but we're working together to get it all done. Our family. Our team. When my kids were very young, I used to answer the question "How do you survive each day?" with "When all else fails, bed time always comes at the end of the day," referring to my eight young kids' bed time. In recent years, with these non-stop scheduling additions, I still answer the same way, but I find I'm now referring to MY OWN bed time. It goes without saying that, at the end of each day, I am WORN OUT and I seriously CANNOT WAIT to go to bed!
Can you relate? What are your secrets for surviving school, social, and sports event schedules? Do share.
Image via Kate Gosselin