Something’s got to give

How do kids find the time to fit in all their after-school activities?

Having expressed a keen interest over a number of months, Isaac took his first piano lesson last week and came back thoroughly enthused. That means we now have a new keyboard (on some kind of lease-to-buy option) in the kids’ playroom and a boy keen to show off what he has learned so far and – in typical Isaac fashion – go racing on ahead to learn absolutely everything right now.

So far that involves him working his way through a piano lesson book while I (to my horror) am dispatched to print off sheet music for Taylor Swift songs – not something I ever anticipated doing when becoming a parent! – and discover (to my even greater horror) that I have completely lost the ability to read music, much less actually play it with anything more than one faltering finger. Yes, even Shake It Off is too complicated for me.

Of course, I think it’s brilliant that Isaac has found another interest and his initial wave of enthusiasm is infectious but at some point reality is going to kick in and he is going to have to knuckle down and spend some time practising. And herein lies the problem: where exactly is he going to find the time?

Currently Isaac does Beavers and martial arts lessons and French club as well as piano every week. They’re not cheap but time is the bigger issue here. Then there’s Toby (who only does French) and Kara (who does Messy Play on a Monday, Heather’s non-working day). Now add in play-dates and school homework and all the other stuff that kids get up to (Minecraft, Minecraft and more Minecraft, mostly). There isn’t exactly much slack in the week.

And then there’s all the things we keep saying we should do more of as a family and consistently fail to do: swimming, film night, all that good stuff. Then there’s the new kitchen to sort out and our finances (someone’s got to pay for all these activities, you know) and … the list is endless and it keeps getting longer.

We can barely cope as it is, and that’s with the boys’ French practice largely limited to the breakfast table and Isaac doing on average the grand total of zero martial arts practice each week. (It’s a good job he’s so focussed and has such a good memory.) How are we supposed to juggle when, one day soon, we have three kids doing different activities at different times and keep on top of it all? And how on earth do other people manage it? Time travel?!?

Actually, the answer to the question of where to find at least some time for Isaac to practise more is simple: play less Minecraft. However, there’s about as much chance of that argument succeeding as there is of me being called up to the England football squad by Roy Hodgson. And you know what they say about all work and no play. I don’t want Isaac to spend every minute of his week adhering to a regimented schedule.

Something’s got to give, though. Anyone got any top tips?


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