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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Managing Kids' Activities

It starts out simple enough. Hoping to encourage your child to make new friends (maybe even some whose mother’s won’t mistake an invitation for an afternoon play date for foster care), you sign him up for Scouts. The next thing you know he wants to play Little League baseball, then soccer, and then your other child wants to take piano lessons, and cheerleading, and before you know it, you’re spending 2-3 hours every afternoon driving in what seems like a endless loop from one activity to the next.

When your neighbor down the street discovers your kids are on the same soccer team, she suggests carpooling. That sounds like good idea, but for some reason she never seems to be able to do her share of the driving due to some kind of ‘personal emergency’. You’re a good sport, but the last time you agreed to do both the drop-off AND the pick-up you couldn’t help but notice her car parked out in front of the nail salon.

While nothing short of full-time limousine service can completely eliminate the hassle of kid’s activities, you can reduce your risk of having a nervous breakdown on a crowded soccer field by keeping an organized schedule, having everything you need in the car, and by being prepared for minor emergencies (or even sometimes major ones) with a few helpful items from
See Jane Work.

If you decide to carpool, or even if you’re just transporting your own kids, make sure that you have everybody’s schedules and contact info written down to avoid conflicts and overbooking.

  • The Mom Agenda has spaces for your own schedule as well as for up to four others, and includes a transferable Mom Essentials booklet that makes it easy to move contact info from one year’s agenda to the next.
  • Zip Pouches from Jane Marvel can keep game schedules, flyers and hand-outs neat in the car or in your tote bag, and a Big Clipboard keeps the snack list and team roster where you can find it.
  • Post the family’s weekly schedule on the fridge or file cabinet with a magnet-backed Family Planner.

If you’ve got kids under 7-years-old you might as well just resign yourself to the fact that you will spend most of your time finding, packing, re-finding and re-packing their little gear. That whole, “You’re a big boy, you need to remember your own stuff” line doesn’t get you very far when your tiny T-ball player is in tears because he forgot his mitt.With older kids, consider making a “point of no return” rule. If you’re more than halfway to ballet lessons and she just remembered she left her leotard at home, she will be dancing in her jeans this week.

  • A Storage Box from Hable Construction keeps equipment corralled, and the cut-out handles make it easy to carry it from the house, to the car, to the field. The open top allows you to do a quick spot check before you close the trunk or leave the park and it folds flat when you’re not using it.
  • The Jane Marvel Carry All is a stylish way to tote dance shoes, swimsuits, or extra clothes for after practice.
  • The Instant Carryall stores in a neat nylon pouch that fits in your glove compartment, then opens up to a full-sized tote perfect for carrying crafts made at scout meetings or snacks for the team.

Skinned knees, stubbed toes, bruised shins and that’s just walking from the car to the playing field. Keep first aid supplies in the trunk and a small kit in your handbag so that you don’t have to walk back to the car every time someone slides into home.

  • Minor Emergency Kits are small enough to fit in your bag, tote or jacket pocket. Keep the First Aid Kit for minor injuries and the Sewing Kit for split seams and lost buttons.
  • Loaded with all of those ‘just in case’ items we keep stashed in our desk drawer at the office, the Working Girl’s Survival Kit is also a must-have for the car. From headache pain to mustard stains you’ll have everything you need to handle a minor crisis.
  • There’s nothing like a busy parking lot full of stressed-out Mommy’s driving ginormous SUVs to bring about a fender bender. Whether you bump someone or you were bumped, you’ll want to make sure to get contact info, as well as some photos for the claims adjuster. The Collision Kit from Buttoned Up has forms for writing in insurance information and accident details as well as a disposable camera with flash.
It may not seem like it now but, someday you’ll miss the practices and games, lessons and recitals, meetings and campouts. While it lasts, make driving to away games or weekend tournaments more fun by popping some Beach Boys tunes in the CD player, or sing along with songs they learned at camp. Don’t forget to take lots of pictures and be sure to order extra prints to send to Grandma in Texas.
  • The Vintage Record CD Sleeves/Labels are a fun way to add something special to your custom made CDs.
  • The Built NY Camera Case protects your digital camera from sideline slams and backseat bumps, and the detachable wrist strap makes it easy to hang onto even when you’ve got a folding chair in one hand and a cooler full of juice boxes in the other.

Although it’s a huge hassle (actually it’s a huge hassle piled on top of a huge hassle), if you can possibly swing it, consider becoming a team parent, den leader, coach or assistant. Even full-time working parents can usually find a little time to contribute to the team or troop, and while your child will probably never remember to tell you, he or she is sure to appreciate your commitment and support.

If one of our ideas or products works for you, or if you have a solution you’d like to share, please let us know at

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