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Activity overload: Chauffeuring my kids around for the next decade

We’ve found recreational activities our daughters love — now comes the hard part. Paying the expense of multiple kids in sports and having the classes on different nights in two different locations. | Lynn Cristina
Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. [Courtesy of Lynn Cristina]

Adriana is super active and now that she is 4, we can enroll her in a recreational activity. She has boundless energy and we really need to find something that will tire this kid out. I threw out so many options: cheer, soccer, ice skating, gymnastics, marital arts, swimming — just pick something, please. But how do they really know what they like at such a young age?

When her older sister Ella was 3, I went a little overboard. She was my first child and at the time my only one. I signed her up for cute, girly activities as soon as she was old enough to begin.

She was in dance, gymnastics and swim all at the same time. I had started ice skating when I was 3, and it was my passion for many years. So I suppose that’s why I thought 3 was the magic number. I decided to put her in all these activities with the intention of having her choose what she liked best.

How insane. I should have just picked one thing — and one thing only — for her. Clearly, I had more time on my hands back then.

For a while dance was Ella’s jam. It was a combo class that was one hour of tap, ballet and tumbling. But she was just loving the last 20 minutes dedicated to somersaults and splits. Halfway through the season, Ella told me she wanted to quit. But I gave her a pep talk about being there for her team, and following through with her commitment, blah, blah, blah.

To be honest, I had already spent an insane amount of money on her recital costume and that was nonrefundable, so she had no choice but to be in it to win it for a few more weeks. But I was relieved that she wanted to quit dance. Hot gluing headpieces two days before the event was not for me.

It was no surprise when Adriana wanted to follow in her sister’s footsteps and chose gymnastics. I had this nagging feeling that gymnastics wasn’t the right fit for our girl, but I enrolled her anyway. Adriana is very physical, and she loves to play rough, but she also likes to dress up and wear glitter. She likes to do dainty girl things, but watching her walk across the balance beam to Disney music was a bit painful.

On a hunch, I took her for a trial class at the martial arts school by our house. From the moment she stepped onto the floor I knew this was it. She is amazing — wrestling adult teachers with no fear. She is bold, brave and spunky. We were hooked from the very first day.

Perfect, we found what they love — now comes the hard part. Paying the expense of multiple kids in sports and having the classes on different nights in two different locations. When did kids’ activities get so expensive? I might have to sell a kidney on the black market so we can support their dreams.

I sat in my kitchen with their schedules and a pencil trying to figure out how I was going to work, pick them up, feed them dinner, do homework and deliver them to their classes on time. It was like I was back in high school trying to cheat my way through a math exam — I was stressed out and my head hurt. There was no perfect solution, so on Saturdays for four hours I will shuttle them back and forth.

Throw a couple of birthday parties and some play dates into the mix and you really have a brain teaser. How do parents do this? Do you hire a driver or quit your job? My evenings and weekends are pretty much booked for the next decade while my kids are living their best life and I am their chauffeur.