We have ended up with at least one group or activity every day from Monday to Friday. I work all the Sundays and half the Saturdays during term time. So I guess it’s no surprise that I feel like I’m not getting much time at home – it must be because I’m not. The kids are also tired – well, Leo is.
It is a tricky balancing act. P has a peer group now in the local HE world and she gets to see them at the groups. Some of them are kids whose families have known each other all their lives, so it has really taken her time and effort to feel that she fits in. So she wants to go to Kids’ Club twice a week, Sports, and Friday group – to see them. She wants to do yoga and capoeira with her cousin S. She wants to do Squeezebox because she really enjoys the drumming. And she wants to be in Woodcraft for all the games and the possible camping trips and outdoor activities.
Leo is much more into groups and activities than he used to be – and he enjoys a lot of what we do. But he gets tired – and needs time and space on his own. It is quite intense being around a big group of people of all ages. Today we went to Friday group – which P really loves. There’s lots of hanging out, playing, trips to the shop for sweets – all that. It is a big group - maybe thirty families today – and often quite loud. Leo was tired today and he tripped over and bumped his knee. Really he wanted to go home. I like the social side of it but I too like some time in my own house, just pottering. We sat cuddling and eating chocolate raisins – but it was a relief to get home.
In another year or two it really won’t be an issue because P will be able to be independent in her social engagements. She’s already taking steps in that direction, which is great. So if she wants to go to more groups than L it won’t matter. But just now we need to work out compromises.
I think a lot of it is about using the time we have at home to really relax – rather than stare at the tv. For me that means doing little bits of sorting and tidying – and writing. For Leo I think it means more long baths and solitary play. We also need to buy more easy picnic food – as most days of the week I find I’m making sandwiches - and it gets boring! We also must make sure that we leave our 'once a fortnight Saturday' free of commitments. Tomorrow we’re planning to just sort out the garden – which badly needs doing. It is too easy to think, “ooh – a free day – quick, fill it up with a trip or a meet…”
We aren’t a family who would be happy without group and social engagements. Our kids both need their friends, and the opportunities for different play that the groups provide – not to mention learning! I need the support of other HE friends – people who know about bad days and doubts. I find it inspiring to see the teenagers – friendly and chatty. But we also need our time at home – writing stories, playing on the pc, reading, playing board games, baking. I guess it is inevitable that group/home balance will shift as the kids change and grow. We just have to watch that we’re all still getting everything we need.