Thursday, August 25, 2011

Overbooked! No Time To Breathe

Now, I know that I shouldn’t complain. Here I am…. a wife to a wonderful husband who works his tail off so that I can have the option to stay home, while trying to figure out what it is I want to do when I grow up….mother to three fairly well behaved children, except for when they drive me absolutely batty….and part owner of a goofy “non-shedding -midsized” dog or should I say horse (isn’t there a law against false advertisement… I should get my money back so that I can replace the vacuum that broke due to all the “non-existent” fur)….so what am I complaining about? Well, that’s easy…I’m too busy.
I see you rolling your eyes….poor little Franklin Lakes housewife….she’s too busy…getting a mani and pedi, hanging out at the salon, playing tennis at the club, meeting for lunch while “discussing”  PTA and school stuff, drinking lattes and eating scones….PLEASE, get real!
The thing is, until you step into my shoes (or stilettos…I do so love my stilettos) you have no idea how crazy my life is. I’m not claiming that I’m the only mom in Franklin Lakes who is insanely crazed and busy…on the contrary, I actually think that most moms in town are in the same situation.
 I admit that I get the occasional mani and pedi, and the hour at the salon is “me” time, I play tennis when I can so that I get some exercise and I do have PTA meetings, but never over lunch and I don’t drink lattes – they make my tummy hurt. But, this not what I’m talking about… the problem is that we as a family are way overbooked, over scheduled and over committed!
Ya get it?! Do you agree?
The root of the problem is that I’ve always wanted to give my kids the opportunity to do things that I never got to do. I want them to pursue things that interest them, take classes in things that inspire them and learn things that my husband and I deem important to their future. So, I asked the kids what they wanted to do….enrolled them in a billion classes in places as local as the Karate place on Franklin Avenue all the way to Timbuktu and thus started living our lives out of our car.
Life started to get hectic fairly quickly ,especially since I’m the primary chauffeur (I’m sometimes in the car, non-stop, for 5-6 hours, driving around and around and around…sometimes not getting home until 9:45pm.) We are doing so many things and going in so many different directions, that I had to simplify my life…yes, I gave up the paper calendar and converted to Google Calendar and boy was that the right move. Now, everything is color coordinated with little bells to remind me of classes, activities, appointments, lunch dates, shopping trips (just kidding…..not reallyand I can even keep track of the Philadelphia Eagles game times when football season starts …how cool!
Our family motto: If it’s not on the calendar, then it’s not happening!
Now don’t think that you can look at this calendar and know everything that happens in our lives, because I still keep certain things in my head, and even though there is some sort of method to the kaleidoscope of colors on my calendar, trying to decipher it may give you a headache.
Everything in our lives has been orchestrated to the last second….we are so jammed packed that there’s barely any room for the slightest delay, let alone breathing….there is no time for rain, sleet or snow, grannies on the road, tractors (I’m stuck behind these everyday on Colonial Road….sucks!) or bathroom breaks….didn’t you just go 10 hours ago?! Geez!
The funny things is, that although we now have the schedule flowing perfectly…and believe me, it was a feat trying to schedule 24 lessons/classes between the three kids in a weeks time (and we do this week after week, month after month), all I want to do now is come to a full stop.  
I’m constantly stressed and now, my kids, for whom this was all done for, are stressed and tired. Can you relate? Do your kids ever feel this way?
The problem I’m having is that as I look at the well crafted master calendar (hold on as I gag….just giving myself some props….clap clap), there is really nothing that I can take out, except for one or two things here and there. The bulk of the schedule seems necessary. So, what am I to do? Any suggestions? Therapy?
We can’t cut out language, because we want our kids to at least be able to understand our families when they come to visit….we can’t cut out music, because we feel they should all be able to play at least one instrument (poor playing is better than no playing – right?)….and we can’t touch the tennis, ballet or karate because physical activity is important, especially in this day and age of video games and Youtube. So, you see my dilemma?
I wish I was as brave and bold as my friend K.J. who told me once that she cancelled all classes and activities for an entire month…, could you imagine? The kids would go to school in the morning, come home in the afternoon and that’s it! You’re in for the night!! True family time…..just like the good old days.
I don’t think it is all that healthy for the kids to be so over scheduled, but now that I’m here, how do I change it?
How crazy is your schedule? How have you pared down your family’s activities and commitments? Does anyone have a copy of the documentary “Race to Nowhere”? And most importantly, what’s the name of your psychologist? I need to make an appointment…..although my first availability is about 6 months out….HELP!
* This is an article I wrote for an online news site

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