Ballet and Soccer and Baseball, Oh My! Here's Advice From 8 Parents

As a mom of a 16-month-old, I've already felt my fair share of parenting burnout. While my child is certainly too young to start requesting to be enrolled in classes, perhaps it's my own mother's guilt that feels like she should be spending her free time at story time, or music class, or learning to swim. But all of that shuttling around, not to mention coordination with her "nap schedule," can eat up an entire day. And I know the sign-ups and classes will only continue to pour in as she gets older. Feel like you're exhausted from your kid's commitments? Look through some other parents' tips and tricks to see if any of them will work for your family!

Use a color-coded calendar.

"For the extracurriculars or commitments, the key to me is having a support network. We live in an apartment and space is limited, so signing my boys up for outside activities is a must in order to not see our home destroyed! I've made a point of making friends with other parents so we can coordinate the drop-offs and pick-ups and help each other out. Scheduling takes major coordination — like a huge, color-coded calendar that's on display on our refrigerator, so we can make sure everyone sees the schedule and knows what's coming up the following week. It is a well-oiled machine." — Rebecca Gruber

If you have more than one kid, put them in the same programs.

"Having two boys who are both into a lot of the same things makes it easier. I sign them both up for the same Summer camps vs. making myself crazy about making sure each one is specifically tailored to each kid's interests. This way there is only one pickup and drop-off. I am sure this will get harder as they get older. On activities, I always ask them if they WANT to do it versus signing up just because everyone else is. However, if it's too hard for me to figure out from a scheduling perspective, I'll just pass completely versus even asking them. My general philosophy is, they are young and none of these things are going to have a significant impact on their future, so the goals should be for them to get exercise or to have fun, otherwise they are just as happy to play at home or at the park. I guess the exception is swimming lessons, as that is a safety issue from my perspective." — Krista Moatz

Many hands make light work.

"Burnout is real! Firstly, we decided what was financially feasible — hockey, and karate, and dance, and gymnastics, and horse riding, and soccer . . . way too much money! We tried one thing at a time until something clicked: for our son it was bowling; for our daughter, karate. One physical activity each — they don't need a million things, just one — and it's easier for them to focus on it. Secondly, the times had to line up with our work schedule. We try not to take time off for running around, so we had to seriously think whether we were the kind of people who would want to give up a day of work for a tournament. Thirdly, we are partners in this parenting thing. If I drive one to one activity, my partner drives to the other — less stress that way because 'many hands make light work.' Lastly, don't overschedule. Kids need to learn how to entertain independently of Mom and Dad. They NEED to be bored. That ends up with all sorts of cool things happening like developing drawing and reading the Lord of the Rings series. Kids don't need us filling every second of their day. Ease off on how much you have them do, and let them and yourself relax, and occasionally (like rarely) let them take a day off — that burnout goes away for us as parents and for them as well." — Sandy Rogers

It's OK to cancel.

"Because classes and teams are so expensive, we have a rule: If you asked to do it, you must complete the season or semester. There's no quitting in the middle. That said, we do play hooky from some practices when Mom and Dad are just too worn out to argue about it!" — RG

Pick a free day.

"My kids are still little, so the classes are mostly weekend ones, and I've found that sticking to one busy day (for us, it's been Saturdays) and one day off (Sundays) has been important for my mental health. I need one day where we have zero plans or commitments, and I think it's good for them, too." — Kate Schweitzer

Divide and conquer.

"I also look back to when we just had one kid and my hubs and I both would go to every damn class together. What fools we were. Dividing and conquering is key, and I think I would have been less manic those first two years if I'd allowed myself to not feel like I had to be there every time." — KS

Plan a family activity that allows you to rest.

"We have Sunday movie afternoons or what we call 'hammock hour' now that it's nice out. Kiddo gets to swing and mommy gets to close her eyes and pretend to be asleep." — Brooke Lipner

Focus on one class at a time.

"I think I was overwhelmed by the possibilities, so made the mistake of taking my daughter as a drop-in to tons of different programs: swim, music, gym, etc. I've changed my thinking and now focus on one program at a time." — Rebecca Brown