The End of the Slacker Parent: How After-School Activities are Taking Over My Life

soccerI think my reign as a slacker parent is over and all it took was signing on the dotted line of the Little League registration packet.

For years, I've avoided extensive extracurricular activities. While friends enrolled their children in tap and ballet, the kids and I rocked out in our living room. When Joseph's friends chased the soccer ball up and down the field, we played beach ball dodge ball. I have nothing against organised youth activities, I'm just lazy.

I've always been a bit of a lazy parent in this way. I'd rather the kids and I do things on our own or with good friends than fill our time with classes. I'd rather not have every weekend booked with scheduled activities. I like the option of the three of us having donuts and tea in bed while playing Candy Crush followed by a spur-of-the-moment trip to the beach to see if the sea elephants are back.

As I've written before, our evenings are rushed. By the time I get home from work and make dinner, there's barely enough time for an episode of Doctor Who or a chapter of Harry Potter. The idea of sitting through a practice or four after work makes me lightheaded.

I cherished those spring evenings as we drove past fields of children hitting balls and pulled into our driveway trying to decide if it was warm enough to try making pizza on the grill. I drank ice cold water on those triple digit Saturday afternoons and cringed at the pictures of children red faced with heat and playing soccer.

I always knew my time was short.

It started innocently enough with gymnastics. Elizabeth has been attending the local gymnastics center for the last two years, first with her grandparents as part of the "Parent and Me" classes and then with her dad on his days off. Somehow, without us quite knowing how, she started to fly through the levels until we were getting friendly talks from coaches wanting to increase the number of days she attends.

Then, in a chance meeting, I ran into one of Joseph's friend's mum who reminded me that Saturday was the last day for Little League sign ups. I slapped my forehead and exclaimed, "That's right! I almost forgot!" while mentally sorting through conversations with Joseph to see if he'd expressed an interest in anything other than Legos and Minecraft. On the way home, he confirmed that he wanted to play ball with his friends even though he's pretty sure he won't be that good.

"You'll be great!" I assured him, mentally making a note to talk to the adults in his life about helping him to stop ducking or closing his eyes when the ball comes his way.

Which is how I found myself signing paperwork and writing a check on Saturday morning, agreeing to three practices and one game a week. And it's how I found myself sitting in an upstairs loft watching Elizabeth tumble across the floor while Joseph ate a sandwich for dinner next to me.

It's caught up to me, the extracurricular activities.

It'll be interesting to see how this goes.