activities for the older kids with a large family

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  • caedmyn

    I have 6 kids, ages 1 month to 12 years old.  I’m struggling with figuring out how to balance my oldest child’s desire to be involved in activities with my own need to not commit to too much.  She really wants to participate in a middle school homeschool basketball team.  The practices are 3x/week for 1.5 hours in the early afternoon, and it would be a 50 minute round trip drive as we live out a little ways outside town.  I told her she could participate only if I could find someone else in our area who was participating and would be willing to carpool.  I did find another player in our area but they aren’t able to carpool regularly due to other activities, so I told DD she wouldn’t be able to play on the team.  I feel badly about telling her no but I know how stressful it would be to have to rush to finish school those days, eat a quick lunch before leaving or bring a take-along lunch, and somehow get everyone in the van and to the practice on time (being on-time is something I struggle with).  Then I would have to find a way to occupy my other children during the practice.  Fall is already starting here and we would not be able to go to a park every time, and I don’t know what we would do the days when it was too cold or too windy for the baby to be outside.  It would just be too much.

    This is coming up more and more as DD is a very social child with a high desire to do activities.  So far I have limited her activities to 4-H (1-2 meetings/month most months), weekly church youth group, and occasionally a once or twice a week sports commitment such as a running club or riding lessons.  Her 9 YO brother has only been allowed to do the same activities as her, if he’s old enough and interested in them.  We also attend midweek Bible study as a family.  DD would love to do some sort of activity, playdate, etc at least 2-3 days a week on top of 4-H and youth group but it’s too much running around for me.  That’s not even counting errands and any medical appointments we might have!

    I feel badly about disappointing DD but I remember that I did very few activities as a child until 8th grade, when I starting playing 2-3 high school sports/year at the small Christian school I attended.  But even that didn’t usually require extra work from my parents as I got rides with classmates to/from practices and games until I was able to drive myself.  Unfortunately getting rides is not often an option for DD since we live out of town.

    I guess I’m looking for any words of wisdom from other large-family moms or moms with large age ranges on managing older children’s desires with the needs of younger members of the family (and mom’s need to avoid overwhelm!), without guilt.



    I only have 4 kids though it feels like more lol😂 and our age spread isn’t as great but my oldest is 16 and youngest 8 and of course with a boy in the mix too we end up with many different interests. Firstly, I’ll just say it IS tough and a balancing act but CAN be done if all are willing to be reasonable and compromise. Children need gentle reminders that they are not the hub of the family but contributing spokes and the ‘wheel’ of the family will get thrown off centre if one person wants overrides everyone else’s.  Sometimes having a quiet little chat to her as the ‘big girl’ in the family can yield surprising results. Your younger children have needs too although they may not articulate them in the same way.

    Perhaps ask her does it have to be basketball? Could you search around for another activity that doesn’t require the same time commitment or has options for younger ones? Can you speak to the coach and ask if once or twice a week would be ok if she practices at home? Could you do your grocery shopping/library visits and other errands on basketball days?

    Could one of those days be a catch up day with other friends ?

    2 things we have done for activities and socialising.

    Firstly we do most of our activities on 1 day a week. When my youngers having swimming, trampolining and gymnastics,  I take my older daughter to her college course . There is a lot of driving around but it’s all one day. Then there was the need for socialising and there wasn’t a group that was available when we had time. So we started one our self. Yep, we started a mini co-op.  It took a term to iron out the bumps but we do the things that are important to us. Nature study, music, foreign language, picture study and composer study. And a good bit of playing too! So the question is, Could you open up your home and invite a few over every week and have an informal coop/ play group? Can the mums share skills? It may take a while to get it to where you want it but you can do it and quite honestly most people are happy to have someone organise it. The energy it takes to implement would be far less than hours and hours in the car and you can still keep your baby in some kind of routine.

    Just keep in mind, your child won’t die if you say No. Crying isn’t fatal either. Or whinging. Sometimes we just have to be loving but firm. Then get her to come up with some alternatives. Kids love a challenge.😉

    Hope  this helps in a small way.


    Honestly, it sounds like she is doing lots already. I think I would keep it at that for now. Maybe later on something else will come up that’s more doable for all of you. You have a lot on your plate and you sound like you are already putting in a lot of effort into extracurriculars. I wouldn’t want to juggle more than that right now if it was me.

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