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Extracurriculars: what to do while waiting?

At one point, the little folks start getting involved in extracurricular activities or sports, with classes and practices running anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  I have gone to swimming class and seen a whole row of parents waiting on the benches, and the vast majority of them were on their smartphones.  Once, during my daughter's 75 minute gymnastics class, I took the opportunity to run three errands, and - since I failed to let her know beforehand - she protested when I returned.  Now, she asks me several times before her class if I promise, promise, promise to stay for the entire class.  I do.  Now, I usually bring a stack of books or an activity to enjoy while I wait with her little brother.  It's quality-time for us, of sorts (though the waiting/reception area is really grungy).  What about you?  My older daughter has basketball practice for two-hours at a stretch!  My husband usually brings his shoes and helps coach the session.  When your child has class/practice, do you stay and watch?  Try to get some work done?  Squeeze in an errand? 

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I bring a good book and read!

Our child's Martial Arts instructor is amazing! I spend a lot of time sitting there with my eyes closed, listening to how he speaks to the children and try to pick up strategies whenever I can. I try and figure out what the point of class was so I can get my daughter to tell me later what it was all about. I'll even ask her "teach" me some of the techniques! That makes her feel like a real expert, believe me:)

I'm the good book type. I read a couple of novels a week. If I have one of the other kids with me they can do their homework.

Knitting/crocheting. I rarely have a chance to sit and knit at home, but its portable, easy to start/stop, doesn't need full concentration, and I can still keep track of what the class is doing so I can talk to my daughter later (and assure her that yes, I really did see it when you did that new thing.)

My husband and I were talking about just this thing. I schlep little ones to activities but I also instruct kids classes too. And I have noticed a trend of parents (particularly fathers) who are on the side completely engrossed in their smartphones. I understand sometimes it can get a bit long to wait, but I can't tell you how many times I have seen a child look over to see if her mom/dad just saw what she did and ...nope, their head is hung over that impossibly small screen. I think it's great when adult and kid classes run concurrently so parents can use that time to get a workout in for themselves or learn a new skill too. My thought is if you are going to be present, be present. If you have stuff to do, drop them off and go get it done.

I love to either read a book or the local newspapers, or catch up on recipes in the latest cookbook I've checked out from the library. Sometimes I even manage to make a list of meals based on my finds!

I'm chasing my youngest toddler around thinking "someday I'll be like you moms and dad and be able to read a book."

This is going to sound harsh, but I tell them if they are old enough to take a class, they are old enough for me to leave. I have no desire to watch every gymnastic, cooking, acting class and applaud every step. They are there to learn, not look up to see if I am approving. Maybe I'm freerange, maybe I'm just lazy. Your call.

I totally agree with a mom. It's *practice*. Watching, cheering, and clapping is what recitals, end-of-season performances, and actually games or competitions are for. To the original poster, I say don't feel guilty if you have to run errands. Your child is fortunate that there is money and time for extra-curriculars, and if you need to get things done, or want to sit and read a book, it's ok!

i used to do lots of mama-child classes with my daughter, but she is older now, and one of the classes she takes is drop-off only. i can sit in the waiting area outside of a closed door, but it is cold and uncomfortable. at first my plan was to take walks and/or read during the 1.5 hour class, but then i started going to counseling during that time. it's the only time i spend all week doing something exclusively for myself - although everyone in my family is benefiting ;-)

My daughter has a two hour theater class that is drop off only (whoo hoo!) I have arranged it so I drop her off and my husband picks her up on his way home from work. She also has a 1 hour ballet class once a week, and another girls mom that lives in the neighbor hood usually takes them. I have a 3 y/o and he can not sit and be quiet for any length of time so "watching" classes is out of the question for us. My kiddo is fine with it. She is independent, and always knows who will pick her up and where to wait. Swimming is the only thing I stay for and that's because it is only 30 minutes, not enough time to leave and come back, but usually the 3 y/o and I are walking (running) around the building not watching the lesson.

Very well said, "Wrenner"...I see this all the time and it's sad...leave the phone at home, or do this elsewhere...if you really have to work.

I agree with "a mom", too. My kids are 12, 9, and 4. The older two typically walk themselves to classes, lessons or practices. They don't need mommy there to babysit. With my 4 yo, she's younger and needs me to be there but she also knows that she's there for her, not for me. I think the independence is really important, and also knowing that a sport or activity should be fun for its own sake, because the kids like it, and not because it's some sort of performance for the parents.

I'm with PDXMama - I knit while I wait. If it's an easy project, you don't have to look at it, so you can watch what the kids are doing or make small talk if needed. I hate being idle, and I like the idea of doing something productive while I'm there.

My daughter has a 30 min choir practice during which I almost always bring work with me to do--outside of the room, as parents aren't allowed to watch. During her 1hr gymnastics, I have my 3 yo with me so we sometimes run errands, sometimes go to the park down the street, often watch a small part of the practice. I agree that kids (who are old enough) shouldn't require their parents' presence during every practice, but I also do like to watch parts of her practice at least sometimes to see what she's learning, because it's fun to see her enjoying herself, and especially when it gives me the chance to talk with mama friends.

My son is old enough and comfortable enough with his soccer team that he walks to practice by himself and I pick him up at the end. He isn't even remotely interested in having me there. His swimming lessons are a different matter. For various reasons, we got him private lessons and he always asks if we saw him doing things and looks over at us to see if we are watching when he does something new or difficult, so in that case, I pay attention to what he is doing. It's only 1/2 an hour and I am proud of his progress, so it's fine. In the past when he's done baseball or other sports, I ended up usually talking with the other parents while 1/2 watching. So, I guess bottom line is that what I do seems to vary based on his comfort level and how important it seems to be to him that I pay close attention and/or even attend.

My daughter has gymnastics every Monday, and she has been in ballet, swimming and a bunch of other classes over the past five years. I watch her always. I don't read, talk or text on the cell, or leave as a lot of other parents do. We all have such busy lives but I like to think of this as time that I can just sit and watch her progress, I can use it as time to wind down too. But I will be there smiling at her and give her the thumbs up when she looks over at me. I see other children go to look at their parent and the parent doesn't see because he or she is too busy texting or whatever, it makes me feel sad for the child. We have the rest of our lives to be busy, but our children will only be young for a little while. I want my child to know that I am paying attention, and that I'm proud of her.

Wow, the judgment just keeps pouring off the page. I love that no one says anything about people reading a novel, but check your email or play a game on your phone while your kid splashes around in the pool and you're some sort of neglectful ass. Get over yourselves. The other day I talked to a mother who won't leave her kid's kindergarten classroom because she said her kid didn't do his work if she wasn't hovering over him. Huh. I wonder why.

How about just watching them? When I take my kid to Karate practice, basketball, soccer, swim lessons, etc - I just really enjoy watching him - my baby growing up and transforming. I coach soccer too and really enjoy that as well.

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