A Not Stressy Post About The Blathering!
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Wondering how you a) manage recycling and b) after school activities and c) yes, this is a really boring post

Okay so I have two questions for you tonight. For comparison purposes. I don't know why I am obsessively thinking about these things today, maybe because I'm going out of town and therefore can't do anything constructive, which is the BEST sort of fretting don't you think? And knowing what OTHER families do will help me fret even BETTER. 

The first one is about garbage and recycling. HOW DO YOU MANAGE GARBAGE AND RECYCLING? We have Lola, the fire engine red garbage can, and two smaller bins for recycling. However! Only one recycling bin fits under the sink and the second one just sits out. For a long time I was diligent about putting the second one out of sight, but for whatever reason our family is generating so much recycling that the two bins have found permanent places in the middle of the kitchen floor. We can recyle paper, glass, cans, and lots of plastic, so these bins are CONSTANTLY full. Constantly. And it makes me crazeeeeeeee

I feel like this problem won't be solved until Jackson Cheung is old enough to carry the garbage and recycling out of the house by himself. Our kitchen is on the second floor. It's not terribly convenient and/or easy to carry a giant bag of garbage and two overflowing bins of recycling through the house, down the stairs, and out to the garbage and recycling bins on a regular-ish basis. At least, not when it's just me at home and I'm getting lunch ready or I'm late for school or WHATEVER. I feel like this is a Cheungs Are Just Supremely Lazy problem, but also: SO MUCH RECYCLING/GARBAGE! Maybe it's all the diapers? I don't know. I always think of this columnist I used to read who was married to a woman born in China and how that woman's family would generate one small plastic shopping bag of garbage PER WEEK. Now. Granted I am a modern middle class lady living in the USA, but STILL. For shame! 

Don't get me started on composting. Again: when a certain someone is big enough to cart the food waste out of the house when his mother orders him to, maybe we'll compost THEN. 

My SECOND question is about After School Activities. I have never been ANTI after school activities, but I've also been decidedly uninterested in becoming the mom who has practice every evening and games on Saturday mornings. At least not now. But it's occurred to Phillip and me that Jack, at least, could really use an outlet for all his crazy energy, and he's been interested in tae kwon do (he saw it on TV). So today I sat down and looked up all the martial arts/sports/dance classes at the community centers and the Y, trying to figure out if it's at all possible for us to pull off the activities thing. BUT. Molly has no interest in martial arts and there are NO community center classes she'd like to do at the same time Jack would be doing karate. We'd have to go to Jack's class one night a week and Molly's class another night a week and I'd have the two extra kids with nothing to do while we wait for the other one and UGH. 

At the Y I can put them in a gymnastics class or indoor soccer league together, but the Y isn't close and it'd be at a crappy traffic time and what would I do with Emma and that's another night a week when dinner is crazy or we don't see Phillip until bedtime and UGH. 

If I wait until Emma is older, Jack is missing out on some prime years of learning things. And it's not just that my friends' kids are on soccer teams and stuff, I've got the Asian in-laws asking me when they're going to start piano lessons. ACK! I don't know!

And I want them to do these things, don't get me wrong. I would LOVE for Jack to pick up a sport or hit blocks with his forehead or find something fun like that and I know Molly would love to take dance lessons. I TOTALLY want them to take piano. I just don't know how to fit all those things into our week while still maintaining some sort of relationship with their father, for starters, and not eating McDonalds twice a week and all that. 

But I also know that I have never been as talented as many of my friends at Activities - I've known this since Jack was a BABY. I've never been good at going to the zoo and the museum and hitting up all the kid goings ons. And our family is a little different than my good friends spend their free time with two big kids in one soccer league with the same schedule. I feel like for me to be successful at managing Activities, they need to be close to our house and overlap OR be something they do together AND I have a clear idea of what to do with myself and Emma while the big kids are busy. I haven't hit on that combination yet. 

So, what are YOUR kids doing after school? Are you driven to drink every evening? I really do feel like Jack and Molly are missing something... it's not exactly peer pressure or family comparison or whatever, I just feel like you don't have a lot of time for pee wee soccer and tap shoes. 

All right. I now release my stress into the internet!

Comments

Jesabes

I signed Margaret up for a low-stress, introductory dance class at the Parks & Rec center and IT IS SAPPING MY WILL TO LIVE. It's only a half hour per week! And yet! It makes dinner late. It starts before Thomas gets home so I either have to take a crazy two-year-old along, which doesn't really work, or drop him off at Thomas' office on the way. Also, Thomas already had a Bible study that night so the second we get home he runs out the door and I'm left alone with two hungry kids after a long day.

The "half hour" class takes an hour and fifteen minutes from the time we leave the house to drop Paul on the way until we get home.

I am counting the days until this thing is over.

Christina

1. We have two bins under the sink. One for garbage, one for recycling. When the bin is full, if I am lazy, the recycling goes on the counter (rinsed out). When my counter is overtaken, I give in and take it out to the garage.

2. Here's what I learned with four kids: Chill. The sports thing can get SO out of hand and take over your evenings and really just suck the fun out of life. My kids did soccer starting in like 1st grade - in a local league. The two olders were into it and did it for like 4 years. The youngers did it one year. (mostly because I was like, if you don't LOVE this, we're done.)
This year I have the best deal ever - my 4th grader is taking Karate before school. Just drop him off an hour early. Love. It. But, we are not sports crazy. I just enrolled the kids in soccer to give them an outlet and because it felt like a thing a kid around here "has" to do.

Christina

oh P.S.! I got a piano teacher who would come to our house. No driving!! And I could do other stuff during the lesson! It was a very good thing. :)

Sarah in Ottawa

Our city composts, so under the sink is our garbage can and our small compost bin. We bring recycling right out to the garage to the big bins once or twice a day; no bins in the kitchen so we have to. It works for us right now, but our kitchen and garage are only 25 feet apart.

So far, activities are on the weekend, generally Saturday mornings. Starting in the winter, both kids will be enrolled in a 6:15 swim class. We will see how that goes. With new baby on the way, and Teddy tired after full day K, this swim class is about all we were willing to try this year.

katie

1. Trash and recycling we have in our kitchen closet. When the trash bag gets full I take it downstairs to the large trash can. When the kitchen recycling fills up (re-purposed clementine crate) either Jo or Co take it downstairs to dump in the giant recycling bin. Jo usually squeals at having to empty the compost can outside, but 5 yr old CoCo does it without complaint. If you do it every other day then it isn't so smelly.

2. I nearly killed myself with having the girls do swim class 5 mornings a week at the beginning of summer. BUT - my older two girls totally gained the confidence and strength so that the rest of the summer I could sit next to friend's pool while they swam (rather than me having to be in the pool with 3 kids clinging on me).
This summer Jo did soccer one night a week thru the local rec dept. The first 4 weeks were "practice" the last 4 weeks were "games." No weekend commitment and there was a playground for the others to climb on, but the hour didn't go fast enough.
Jo and Co are still avid thumb suckers so I finally decided enough is enough. Which means neither one gets to do any kind of extra-curricular activity until she quits. Which also means I get out of coordinating family schedules to fit in dance class and running club for now.

Julie

Oh, can I identify with the stress of Activities. I hope we can commiserate in a couple of days. I'm sorting out coordination chaos myself these days.

Laura

My kids are a little older than yours (2nd, 4th, 7th grades), so I can share what's worked for us activity-wise. First, let me say that it's the hardest it will be for you RIGHT NOW. Really. It gets SO MUCH easier as the kids get older. Right now you have littles to watch during the older kid activities PLUS kids who need to eat dinner/go to bed early. It sucks.

So here are my tips:

1) Choose inexpensive, low-key (think rec&ed/ymca) activities at first. They typically run in short sessions, so you don't commit for more than a couple months, and you won't feel guilty if you miss a few.
2) If the activity is okay with you dropping your child off, do it. It's really okay to leave. (I had a hard time with this.)
3) If you can, sign up with a friend and carpool so that you are only driving there half the time.
4) Find activities with options for entertaining little kids. Like, soccer at a park with a playground. Or, basketball at the Y where they have child care. Or, a martial arts studio near shopping/coffee. Anything but sitting in a confined space with littles!

Lastly, I'd say don't worry if it turns out you're not an "activity family" yet. There's PLENTY of time to join this circus later. Busy-ness suits some families better than others, and that's okay. I thrive on it, and so do my kids, so we do a lot of stuff. We love it. But that's not for everyone. If you're all hating it, it's just not worth it.

AmyRyb

Last winter we did one night of soccer per week, for about 45 minutes. That wasn't bad. I had a baby the night after it all ended, which was fantastic timing. Over the summer we did little league which was two nights a week. During the week. Which means that two evenings per week were all screwed up. We didn't get home until 7:30, which meant my husband had to pick up the older one, provide him with a PB&J before the game, and then I'd pick up the younger one and meet them there just as the games were starting. I think it lasted for about 6-7 weeks. It was brutal. I mean, I loved the games and all that, but the rush and the weird nights and late snacky dinners and all that was just...weird. It made the end of summer really odd. And I disliked having to take the baby and avoid the sun as much as we could. Thank goodness the weather was decent, though. BUT...this winter we have lacrosse one night per week and SATURDAY, which also happens to be a day my husband usually has to work/travel. Which means this is going to be my responsibility. Which sucks. I want him to do this, but I just hate having it take over my already limited free time...and my Saturday mornings. Waaah. Baseball next summer is going to be the same sort of schedule, and I'm already dreading it. It's going to be a lot of cranky Saturdays, for sure. And cranky family when we can't go out of town to visit them because we have games. I have no choice seeing as sports is the *thing* in this family, but oy...I am not a fan. I've already nixed the option of hockey because I refuse to spend hours in a freezing cold arena. Does that make me a bad person? But beyond the sports, I don't know how people have time for more than one activity. I like a little bit of normalcy, thank you...

Kel

I have a 4 year old, 3 year old and 17 month old (oh and 24 wks pregnant with #4.) My oldest plays hockey once a week and his sister can start skating the same night at the same time. We eat dinner, I meet my husband at the rink which is pretty close, I take the baby home and they all meet is back at home after skating. Only once a week so works well for us :) If Jack and Molly are interested and with winter coming, maybe a learn to skate one night a week at the same time?

Kelley

Sonya

My husband obsessively monitors the trash/recycling for our family, so other than having to endure the occasional lecture about overstacking the garbage can, I don't have to worry about it. LOL.

As for activities, Sophie was lucky enough to take two years of dance and a little tumbling during the day at the day school she attended until recently. SO convenient. So all we did in addition to that was either soccer or basketball skills classes on the weekends. This summer, she attended theatre camp and loved it, so now she's taking a two-hour theatre class every Saturday instead of soccer/basketball. She also just started (finally) taking official swimming lessons, but that's only 30 mins a week and the class is literally two minutes from our home, so not too bad. I tried out a dance studio two minutes from our house because they had a class on Friday after school, but the teacher was kind of snooty and the class was very regimented and Sophie didn't have any fun. So I'm investigating some other options and she may do dance in the spring on Saturdays instead of theater.

Lifeofadoctorswife

Oh goodness the GARBAGE. So much!!! We don't have any space in our kitchen cabinets, so we have a big garbage can at the end of the island. Ugh. (At least it is PRETTY, as far as trash cans go.) There are two recycling bins in our garage, which is just off the kitchen. Of course, empty cans and bottles and broken-down cardboard boxes are ALWAYS on the island or leaning against the garage door and the bins get full so fast, so I constantly feel like I'm living in a garbage dump. So...empathy but no suggestions.

Also, I have no parenting experience with the activities, but as kids, my brother and I had piano on Tuesdays and I had gymnastics on Mondays and we ate fast food on those nights and it was GLORIOUS.

Kathryn

I have a 6 year old in grade 1, and it's his job to take the compost out - not every night, but several times a week. He complains, but he does it. We are fortunate enough to have a garage on the same floor as the kitchen, so the recycling bins live in the garage and get added to nightly.

As far as activities go, the 6 year old is in swimming, soccer, skating and Beavers - but he needs that level of activity. We are also very fortunate in that we have 2 kids, 10 years apart, so the 16 year old is more help than hinderance! She was never in so many activities, but she wasn't a kid that needed them like my son does.

Angela (@Aferg22)

1. First, recycling. Our city gives us a huge 35 gallon cart for everything but glass. We keep it in the garage, right by the door that leads into the kitchen. Items to be recycled get rinsed out and either I put them in the bin right away, or they sit by the sink until I get around to putting them in the bin. Paper goes in a grocery bag that is kept on the floor of the pantry, and when the bag gets full, it goes in the cart. Newspapers and magazines go in a wicker basket in the living room, until it is full and gets dumped in the cart. Glass goes in our old, little recycling bin that we used before we got the big cart, and when it is full, I take it to the glass recycling dumpster near us every few months.

2. Activities: my situation is different because I only have one kid, which makes the logistics a bit easier, but my husband travels a lot and I work outside the home, so I end up being the main person dealing with this. Right now Jackson is in fall baseball, soccer and just started Cub Scouts. This means there is one cub scout meeting, soccer practice and baseball practice during the week and then one to three games on the weekend. When my husband is in town, he takes J to practice and I can cook dinner. When it is just me, we usually grab dinner out at least one of those nights. Baseball ends this week, soccer goes to the end of the month, and I can't wait for November because we will only have scouts until basketball starts up in December. J loves playing the sports with his friends, and all the teams are still in the "everybody plays and learns, and let's have a good time" phase, even though the kids always know what the score is. I really hope you can find something that fits all your needs. :-)

Laura

1. Garbage: its a huge headache in our house, we don't have a solution.

2. Activities: our 7 year old has all sorts of extra curricular activities offered right after school, so its no extra work for me, obviously I singed her right up! Taekwondo used to be one of those, however she now does that on Saturday mornings. Along with that she also does swim team 2 nights/week. I was just complaining to my husband about what we would do when kid #2 (3 years old now)wants to do "activities". Who knows...

My advice with the Taekwondo is: DO IT. I found it to be great for my daughter, even the wild children in her class seem to be focused and disciplined (while they are there). Plus I think the belt promotion thing keeps them interested in learning/practicing.

Allison

1. We keep our recycling bin on our front stoop (so ghetto, but we live in a mid-row townhouse and our deck doesn't have stairs down to our backyard, so... yeah, lazy). We have two bins but keep them stacked and use them like one bin. Every day we collect recycling on the kitchen and someone (usually my husband) will take it out to the bin while we clean the kitchen. Sometimes the kids help with this [sometimes I do, too :-)]. I wish we had a different solution, but our kitchen is too small to keep the bin inside.

2. Activities! Oh, how I have dreaded this age, where my kids are old enough to really want them! This is a nightmare for us, since we both work out of the home and have long commutes. I try to keep it very low key/low pressure - no competition activities yet or anything that involves more than a one-day-a-week commitment. My 4 year old does dancing on Saturday mornings, and while she does that, my 6 year old takes swim lessons in the same shopping complex. Last year, this was all we did, but recently they both started begging for karate classes. I don't know about your area, but all the martial arts programs around here (Maryland) seem to push programs where the kids come twice a week. Because of my kids' age difference, they have to be in separate classes, and because of my work schedule, we can only make separate classes that are offered on separate days. Blargh. This means if I were to go with the twice-a-week option all the other kids do, we'd be at the Taekwondo studio 4 days a week. Nope, not gonna happen. I signed them each up for just one day a week, which means that they will lag way behind the rest of their classmates, but oh well. Sanity and all that. Dinner on those nights is either really early or really late, and I have to leave early from work to make it all work out.

The Taekwondo studio offers and after school program, and I may consider signing the kids up for that next year (they'd basically go there every day after school, until I can pick them up after work). IF they decide they really like it. But we'll see.

Sorry for my novel! Good luck, and have fun at the Blathering!

lindsay

I keep a cheap Target dollar aisle plastic bucket (think: it would be chic if it was from Pottery Barn) on the floor of my pantry and it's for recycling. It needs to be taken out every 1-2 days, so doesn't help with the lazy conundrum.

I feel ya, sister, I really feel ya.

Re: activities. A piece of advice I received from an older friend: only one activity at a time. Sign up your son for a 12 week tae kwon do class; when that's over, sign up your daughter for whatever she wants. Then it's just one activity, once a week. Have crockpot meals that night?

Love these kinds of posts. I like reading about how other families do things, too.

Megan @ Mama Bub

We have a trash can under the sink for trash, and a pull out trash can drawer type thing for recycling. We have a full sized recycling trash can outside, and it's an easy trip from the kitchen to just outside the garage to dump the recycling.

Classes. So we let each kid do one thing at a time. It works out now that Hannah can do her thing while Benjamin is in school, and 100% of the reason she's not taking the dance class that she wants to is because I can't handle another afternoon of driving around. Also, she's three. It can wait another year. Also, Benjamin is NOT a good waiter. Hannah is, having perfected it over a million soccer and baseball practices and games.

Jenney

The Y with their 6-8 week classes were a godsend. No commitment. Our y was a drive but it was worth it. One year they took karate and ballet at the same time. Last year they took hip hop and swimming. I could one in childcare and go exercise if they weren't in the same class. If they hated it who cares it was only 6 weeks. Our y even has a restaurant so we had pizza and salad on those days.

Jen

Right now Maggie is our only kid in activities and it's manageable. Gymnastics 1 evening each week & next week is our first Girl Scout meeting. But when Audrey & Zach get older & have their OWN activities? I DO NOT KNOW HOW THIS WILL WORK. I'll probably cry and whine a lot. I'll let you know how it works out! Ha

Erin G @ebum1101

Our kids are the same ages and I had similar struggles so I will just tell you what we are doing and maybe it will help (our way is not perfect either).

Nathan does TKD and loooooves it. The girls come with me and watch. Or play with the puzzles/lego some other parent left near the "parent watching" chairs, and bless that person's soul. And if they are antsy, we go next door to Brueggers and eat a bagel (excellent $2 distraction, unlimited diet coke refills, I think you and Molly know how to have these sorts of dates too).

Anneliese does dance, and sometimes Charlotte and I stay to watch, sometimes we go pick up Nathan from choir (usually he rides home with a friend though).

And no, I do not fret that my kids do uneven amounts of activities.

And yes, my evenings with NO plans are still my favorite. We keep all activities limited to Tuesday and Wednesday. This might change as the years go on but for now it's some kind of balance and it is going okay.

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