CNN Parenting

Why extracurriculars make parents miserable

Parents are "thinking about what works for the kids, but they also need to think about what works for them," an author says.

Story highlights

  • 35% of parents say managing school and extracurricular transportation is more stressful than taxes
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages doctors to write young children a "prescription for play"

(CNN)There are oh-so-many studies and expert opinions evaluating the ways our parenting choices affect our kids and oh-so-few considering how we grown-ups will fare. Read enough of them, and you'll be misled to believe that parents are fixed entities with little capacity to feel or grow.

This is particularly the case when it comes to time management. We're told that children need lots of unstructured time, and it's up to us to cultivate it. But we're also told that children need to be challenged and inspired, and it's up to us to arrange it. So off we go to karate and violin and religious school and soccer and dance, while making sure there is enough time in there for wandering in the woods or building a treehouse, or whatever else passes for low-pressure character-building these days.
As a parent of a 5- and a 1-year-old, I'm fairly new to the scheduling trenches. And yet a small voice has emerged, a faint chant from the back of my brain, repeating: Where do my needs fit into all this?
    How do I want to spend my weekends and evenings? What if watching children play sports or struggle through a music lesson isn't my idea of a good time?