Sometimes it is perfectly fine to say “when.” Your cup is full. You cannot handle another drop. It might look to someone else like “just one more thing” but to you, it’s the tipping point. You need to be able to self-advocate and ask for alternatives.
I was flying through my day earlier this week. I am in the midst of the craziest, busiest season I’ve ever had. Three high schoolers and a 3rd grader all wrapping up concerts, plays, final projects, getting late work completed, swim meets, and that’s not even including prepping emotionally, physically, and house-keeping-wise for my eldest son to graduate in less than two weeks.
Suddenly my daughter is telling me there are tryouts for the flag team she wants to be on again next year. On Wednesday. This week. Apparently they were in the announcements at school for two weeks but her math teacher doesn’t let them listen to the P.A. system announcements because it disrupts class. So it’s Tuesday and she just found out. Blink. Blink.
I was D-O-N-E done! Nope. I could not add one more thing this week.
But she loved doing flags her freshman year and I wanted her to be able to participate again. How on earth…?!?!
Last year, while crying to a friend about an evening with two “mandatory meetings” for different kids, she posed a life-altering idea. She said that perhaps I should ask one of the meeting organizers, “So what happens to my child’s participation if I physically cannot be at this mandatory meeting?” The thought never occurred to me before. Being a first-born, my natural tendency is to do what’s expected. (Well, most of the time anyway.)
So this week, I did just that. And you know what? The teacher offered another time that my daughter, who was on the team this year, could meet her to show she still understands the moves. To be honest, I think she saw the crazed look in my eyes and the way the smile was affixed on my face with sheer force of will. I told her I just could NOT add another thing this week.
When you are a single mom with multiple kids, these kinds of conflicts happen. Before my husband died, we would divide and conquer. Now I miss that. My heart wants to be there for each and every thing my kids do and need me for. But there are times, I have discovered, when it just can’t happen.
If you are a single mom trying to fit it all in, I feel your pain. Here are some tips to surviving:
See if you can reschedule or get the information another way. Asking that question worked amazingly well, especially because I phrased it in a way that the teacher knew I needed her help. She was more than willing to figure out something else. Another thing to ask is how you can get the information if you can’t get there. Could they email? Could you pick it up from them somewhere? People get sick. People have conflicts. Asking how you can still participate is a valid question.
Ask friends or family for help. If you have friends or family nearby, asking if they can help is a great idea. Can grandma go to the talent show while you attend the middle school orchestra concert? Would your child be OK if their youth sponsor who is a family friend attended so you could be at the other event? It takes a village and sometimes you need to ask for help from your village people.
Be honest with your kids and include them in the discussion. A few years ago my son had a high school band concert on the same night as my daughter’s middle school orchestra concert. I try never to miss one of these. They’ve worked so hard and are proud to show off what they’ve accomplished. Both said each was important. However, as we talked, we realized Kati’s orchestra concert started 30 minutes earlier than Jarod’s. And, after talking to his teacher, Jarod discovered his group would be the last to play. So I got creative and went for the first few songs of Kati’s concert and rushed 10 minutes across town in time to catch the last two of Jarod’s. Epic mom win.
Juggling all the special moments in our children’s lives sometimes takes a little creativity and knowing when you just can’t do it all. It’s OK to ask for help or for another option.
What is your best trick for juggling multiple kids’ activities? I’m always on the look out for new ideas and suggestions. Please share in the comments.