For the last two years, I have had three boys at three different schools. Sounds like that should have been a piece of cake. Yet I have spent the last two years juggling three different PTA, PTSA & Booster clubs (of COURSE they all had different names). Three different school calendars of events. Three different groups of after-school activities. This might not seem like a lot – but at the end of a grueling two year saga of juggling it all, there are signs I might make it out intact. Granted, with one week left to go I have a to-do list of 72 items and haven’t been home before 9pm the last two weeks of school, but I feel like the end is in sight.
The summer of 2016. There was no inkling on how crazy life would turn in the just a few short weeks. The school year ended like every other school year. Backpacks full of remains of the previous year. Art projects piled high & making their way to the memory bins. We celebrated 8th grade graduation and looked forward to the transition to high school for the oldest boy. The middle child was moving from grade school to junior high. Youngest still at the grade school. Knowing 2 of the 3 schools, we should know what to expect, right? RIGHT?!? Wrong. Consider yourself warned – entering the world of three boys and three schools is not what you’d expect.
Three Boys & Three Schools
I saw the challenge ahead of me as we headed towards the Fall of 2016. Thought I would preemptively prepare for the first school of two years of expected chaos. Order was needed to juggle high school, junior high & grade school for two years. I had file folders color coded. Calendars were separated and ready to fill with after-school activities. Each iPhone was updated and linked with important calendars so each kid could see the plan for the day. I thought I had a jump on things. There wasn’t enough color coding or red wine to prepare me for this. I didn’t expect the unexpected.
Different District Calendars
While there were three kids, thankfully I only had to juggle two district calendars. For the past decade the calendars were almost spot on with start and end dates, with a few scattered days off different throughout the year. What fun would it be if that was the case when we entered the fall of 2016.
Our area high school districts decided that they wanted to shift the start date of school a bit earlier so that the students could take finals before winter break. One local HS district decided to do that a bit earlier than our high school district. Of course, our grade school district (which include our JH and grade school) started to mirror that schedule quickly. Our high school, however, was in the other area HS district. Not only did they start later than our grade school district, but the WINTER BREAKS WERE DIFFERENT. I had kids home for a total of three weeks, but they were only all home together for one week, with Christmas & New Years Day that week. It was the longest three-week vacation of my life. Thankfully that only occurred the first year.
Oh Yeah, Sports
On top of everything else that they do, the youngest two play hockey. The first year one was house league, the other travel hockey. The second year we took off the spring session & then both played house league the next fall. Both had tournaments, practice schedules & games during the week & weekends. If you have never participated in hockey before, know that the season starts in September and ends in March. There is no rest for the weary in hockey.
The high schooler took his turn at sports as well, continuing to participate in soccer as a freshman. While after the season he decided to retire from sports and transitioned his focus on band & theatre. Thankfully these are mostly indoor activities with rehearsals after school. A slight reprieve for my drive times, but still things to add to the calendar.
Health & Learning Challenges
While we might have spent the last nine years navigating the education system and knew what to expect each year, good old karma thought he’d shake things up a bit. Early 2016 we found that our youngest son did indeed have a hearing problem. During that summer he finally got his first pair of hearing aids and started the 3rd grade with navigating his classroom experience with them. This didn’t add a lot to our calendar of events (maybe one extra IEP meeting) but certainly made for a bit of added stress.
Then there is the actual part of school that focuses on actual learning. One child started to excel but also needed the support of navigating new technology learning platforms. The other began to struggle with my least favorite subject, math. Since I already did my time as a student, we needed to add some additional tutoring to help bridge some gaps. Thank goodness for Huntington Learning Center. We also tackled our first child taking drivers education. If that doesn’t add a few grey hairs to your head, I tip my hat to you.
Don’t forget about all the learning for parents. We don’t get a pass, no matter how many degrees we have hung on our walls. Since the start of the 2016 school year I can now successfully navigate an iPad, a Chrome Book, Google Docs, Seesaw, Infinite Campus & Khan Academy. Did you realize you would need to block time to learn all this new technology for your kids? Yep, you do. While you’re at it brush up on your Algebra, too.
Mom has a life, too??
Top off everything we were juggling with the kids & I went and added my own uptick of social obligations to the calendar. I have always worked full time, and currently my schedule has been 4 days a week (10hr shifts). While we take family vacations yearly, I usually don’t make a habit of additional adventures. So, in the midst of all this madness, I logged five flights and seven vacations – only two of those as a family. While I cannot stress enough that I support & encourage traveling & adventures, I probably wouldn’t recommend stepping up your adventures during the first year of this chaos.
Fast forward to the end of 2018. In a few short days, the last two years are officially complete. We will soon be ending our 10th, 8th & 4th grade school years. The next adventure will have two high schoolers & one grade schooler. Since our 8th grader graduated the Thursday before Memorial Day I already feel that a weight has been lifted & the seas are calming.
I wish I had some fabulous bit of advice or suggestion if you find yourself about to embark on three kids in three different schools – but I really don’t have answers. Drink more? Forget cleaning? I’d tell you to cook less but I don’t cook now, so that might not help you out. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the organization didn’t work. In fact, that is probably the only thing that kept me from really losing it. You could volunteer less, travel less, be involved in less – but those are also part of the daily adventures that give the break in the routine and help you feel like you’re giving back to the cause. I might not have all the answers, just expect the unexpected if you find yourself on the zone defense strategy of more schools than parents.
Part of me wants to tell you to avoid volunteering for anything – the other part wants me to tell you to help out any chance you get. What you most certainly should do is enjoy every moment. Embrace it. Document it. Take those photos. Grab that kid (who is now probably taller than you) for a selfie. Once your kids start navigating from grade school to middle school/junior high and onto high school – they grow faster than you can ever imagine.
You’ll be exhausted. You’ll be frazzled. You’ll be telling everyone you must have something in your eye when you’re dabbing those tears at 8th grade graduation realizing that those littles aren’t so little anymore. We blinked & they started to take the shape of tiny adults.
They’re preparing to embark on the adventures we thought would be years away – but it will be here sooner then we want it. You’ll look at your littlest one and realize he is trying to catch up to his older siblings. You’ll realize your oldest is closer to the finish line then you want him to be. Consider yourself warned – you’re going to need to start carrying tissues more. Be prepared.
31 thoughts on “Three Boys & Three Schools: Consider Yourself Warned”
Love this! I had 2 kids in different schools with different after school activities so it takes me back, let me tell ya! But you’re right it goes by in a flicker and I occasionally find myself thinking of those times with kleenex in hand.
I have a friend who has that problem starting this, three girls and three different schools. I can’t even imagine. The confusion alone of where you need to be and when would frustrate me. Props to all you moms (and dads) who deal with this every year.
Oh man. That sounds rough. I hope we don’t have that much with our two!!
This same thing happened to me a few times. Trying to juggle kids in different schools with different activities is mind boggling. Even now when my kids are in college they are on totally different schedules (one on semesters one on quarters) and don’t always have the same breaks.
Living the dream… I have one departing for college tomorrow and one starting fifth grade.
As a parent of an only child, I’m in awe of families that have lots of kids. Anything more than two is lots to me. I love your spirit! Great article.
Great article! Takes me back to the days of my children.
I have one in middle and one in elementary right now and totally agree! It is a lot, but at the same time, I feel like we’re in the sweet spot right now and can sense the sand in the hourglass slipping away (only 6 more summers with my girl!). Take those pictures and get those hugs!
A 1 child family here…that was hectic enough for me, LOL! Have a great school year…and you are so right, it goes by in a blink of an eye.
Ah, motherhood rite of passage. You will be overwhelmed but all worth it. The time will fly by and you will wonder how you made it but how it was also a great time in your life. Enjoy the moments when you can – solo talks in the car when driving kids back and forth, etc.
Awww – thanks for the reminders. I am trying to savor it all and keep my sanity all at once.
Wow! All I can say is that you are amazing! And to be able to throw in a few adventure trips? Wow.
I need a small escape every now and then!
It all goes by way to fast. My oldest will be a senior in HS and I am already sobbing about it!
Mine is a senior in high school this year, my youngest is in his last year at the grade school as well. There will be a LOT of tears from this mom this year!
I remember those days both fondly and not so fondly! Lol. With 2 out of college and one still in high school the chaos is much more controlled now…buuuut, the grandbaby will be walking soon! Oh boy!
That would be so difficult to have three district calendars!!! One year I had one in private school, two in home school, and one in public school. It was a challenge!
This was us last year! Only it was two schools and one being homeschooled, plus one of the ones in school had online classes that made her pick up and drop off times different every day at school. It was madness for sure. This year they are all in ONE school, but it is kind of sad to think they’re almost grown.
That sounds crazy insane but good for you for doing what was best for your kids and making it through! Being a mama is hard work, isn’t it?
What a journey you’ve been on! This will help other overwhelmed parents feel like they’re not alone.
It is a balance, I have four kids at three schools. It was my own choice because they all could be at the same school, I just liked certain programs for the individual kid.
What a challenge! Moms are superheroes for sure!
We are going to have 2 boys and 2 girls all in school this year and its crazy!
Oh, good Lord! I am almost vibrating with memories. The past 2 years, I have had 7 kids in 5 schools!!!! It’s been beyond crazy and I know I have let the kids down at times. This coming year, I get to go down to 7 kids in 3 schools! I’m thinking (perhaps foolishly) that things will get easier? It sounds like you had fun, despite the crazy!
That sounds like pure madness! Good luck – it goes so quick!!!
Ah! Why do they have to grow up so fast?! Trying to take each moment in…
Juggling two was challenge enough…I can’t imagine three! I love your thoughts on embracing the experience and enjoying it before it flies by!
This has got to be rough! Glad you seem to have a handle on it (as well as anyone can anyway). Good luck with the school year!
Yep this is the world my son and daughter-in-law live in with their three! This next year the two youngest at least share the middle school. Next year it’s back to three kids in three schools. They use a shared family app that allows everyone to see the schedule for the month. That’s helped them tremendously.
Great organizational calendar skills is a must when your kiddos like to be involved in numerous activities!
I soooo feel your pain! I had the same thing with my 3 children and they were in 3 different activities – a soccer player, a swimmer, and a dancer. I easily put 200 miles on my car each week. They’re all adults now. I miss a lot of things, but the constant juggling of the schedule isn’t one of them!