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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Divide and conquer

Posted March 29, 2015

If you have more than one child, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Every weekend comes down to a series of complicated choices about scheduling activities and who goes where with whom. I wish I could clone myself, I really do, because there are so many times that I literally need to be in two places at once, which is clearly an impossibility. So I have to choose.

This year, I have tried to strike a better balance. My husband does the regional volleyball tournaments with my old daughter, which usually last one day and take place in Greensboro. I handle the out-of-town tournaments that require travel and overnight stays.

By necessity, I must handle the dance competitions for my younger daughter because fathers are not allowed in the dressing room and, at 11, she stills needs my help with hair, makeup and costume changes.

Unfortunately, there are many weekends like this past weekend where the two activities collide and I find our family fractured, running in two completely different directions.

I have another one of these complicated weekends coming up in April that I lie awake in bed at night and ponder because it requires Dad to do dance, which is not ideal, while I stay in Raleigh to tend to other important obligations with my older daughter. It’s a puzzle that I keep hoping will work itself out if I just turn it around in my head a few more times, but so far an obvious solution has been elusive.

All of this dual-child-scheduling has made me realize that I have become what I said I would never be: Those people. I vowed when my children were young that I would never do this crazy all-in life where your children’s activities rule your weekends.

But, here I am, and now I keep wondering, how did I get here? I intuitively know the answer. I am here because both of my kids expressed intense passion and drive for their respective activities. They are driving the train, and I am simply their assistant conductor.

But is it healthy? Is it good for families to be constantly separated every weekend making difficult choices about which parent will support which child’s activity?

I honestly don’t know the answer to the question. I simply throw it out there because so many parents seem to be in the same boat. For now, we are in survival mode until the warm breezes of summer come our way giving us a brief respite from the intensity of our crazy over-scheduled lives.

I look forward to it like a little girl who can’t wait for school to let out for the summer. After the long, hard winter we have had, we could all use a little vitamin sea…

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including some on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.

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  • Ashley Porter Mar 30, 2015
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    It is a hard question to answer. We always said our children would only do one activity at a time, which we stuck to-sounds like you did too but those individual activities now collide. I think if it were a year round issue, something would have to give-maybe you say no to one or two out of town tourneys or competitions, but if it's for a season of time in the year, it's "manageable". Technology helps too b/c you can instantly share video from and encouragement to the child you are not able to be with. And maybe there's still a period of time where you all take a break to just enjoy family time, but you as a family have to decide when or if that's needed.