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Family Life

It’s May, and that means every coach and teacher across the United States is conspiring to make parents’ lives as miserably hectic as possible.

Really, I think they have a secret pact that goes something like this:

“When is your big play that involves every student in your class?”



“Thursday.”

“Cool. I’m gonna make my recital the same night.”



“Wait, wait, wait. I have a mandatory chess tournament on Saturday.”

“That’s OK, Saturdays always conflict with soccer, basketball and baseball, so you’re set.”

“But we should all make sure we plan something for Sunday, just in case anyone wants to have dinner together or something.”

Whatever you do this month, do not ask a parent of pre-school- or school-age children, “What’s happening?” You will either get an earful or get slapped. Maybe both.

As we sprint toward the end of the school year, every recital, play, musical, concert, sports tournament and ceremony is taking place in May. Do they not realize there are eight other months in the school calendar?

Experts warn against overscheduling our children, and I completely agree. Kids need to spend more time at home, inventing games, doing arts and crafts, scrubbing the bathroom floor. My own kids would have plenty of down time if it weren’t for me loading them all up in the car to go to piano lessons, skating club, Little League, basketball and hip-hop (don’t ask).

I like the advice of one activity per week per grade level. (I actually have no idea whose advice that is. It would make a 10th-grader look like a whirling dervish.) The problem is that I have three kids. Based on all their various grade levels, that makes for a minimum of seven activities a week ” for me. Given that their ages require Social Services to intervene if they’re left at home alone, I have to take them all whether it’s their activity or not.

So we load the car with enough snacks to feed an army of 8-year-olds, a few hundred bottles of water, homework, CD players and, mercifully, a DVD or two (I swore never to put a TV in the car; I’m over that.). Then it’s off to the rink, the field, the court, the stage, the church, the studio and the loony bin.

And that’s just for the practices.

Add in two school plays, two dance recitals, three piano recitals, nine basketball games, 14 baseball games, 25 mandatory rehearsals, some graduation parties, a field trip to Zimbabwe and a Holy Sacrament.

I changed my mind. I won’t slap you if you ask what’s happening. Somebody needs to slap me.

Charla Belinski, a certified parent instructor with Redirecting Children’s Behavior, counts herself lucky to spend most evenings in May with a host of other harried parents. Her column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. E-mail her at

Belinskis@comcast.net.


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