The benefits of scheduling kids

I'm cruising down the highway on a Sunday morning at 5:45 am.  I look at the other drivers wondering who else would be on the road this early on a chilly morning.  I'm surrounded by Lions, Tigers and Bears.  Further down the road there are Titans, Spartans and Warriors.  No, they aren't rebellious church goers.  These bumper sticker laden Suburbans are filled with sleepy parents and even sleepier kids in the back.

We're all on our way to soccer games, hockey tournaments and swim meets.  Most of these events are all day and need to start very early to fit in all the teams and games.  I can't remember a weekend morning
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that I woke up and didn't have somewhere to be before 8 am.

Most people think my family is crazy and overscheduled.  While I have to admit it is occasionally taxing and there are days I just want to sleep in, for the most part I love it.  I have a great time with my kids.  I'm a morning person, so that helps immensely.  I think I'm on the way to teaching all of my kids the joy of getting up and moving while most of Chicago is fast asleep. 
Our weekends are jam packed with events, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's brought so much to our lives.  However, there are plenty of naysayers out there that tell me the reasons I'm doing it all wrong, well I'll tell you why I'm doing it right.
You don't get to have family time -- We get a TON of family time.  Our weekends are all about the kids. No, we're not going to museums or festivals, but are those underscheduled kids going?  With having five kids, I'm often just driving one or two somewhere and they get more of my undivided attention than they would if we were at home and distracted by laundry, yard work, electronics...  One thing I do know is that when we have an open weekend, we make sure we do attend very family oriented events.  Which are typically filled with junk food and fighting about what each one wants to see/do and at least someone ends up crying.
Kids don't have time to play -- That's all they're doing is playing!  It's called playing sports, playing an instrument, playing games for a reason.  They may not be
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building houses out of sticks in the backyard, but they are PLAYING.

They don't get to see their friends -- They see their friends EVERY day!  Their teams are filled with their closest friends.  The bonds they have made on these teams have been incredible.  Not only that, they get to know all kinds of different kids from other schools and areas.  We've learned that all kids go through bad times with "friends" at school.  I've heard "no body likes me" or "No one wanted to be my partner" more times than I care to remember.  When they're feeling left out and dejected after school, we're off to practice where they have a whole group of fresh faces that are always happy to see them.
You have no life -- O.K., I have to agree with that one.  We're pretty busy jumping from place to place, so my husband and I don't have a lot of selfish time or a lot of activities with other grown-ups.  However, we have met some of our closest friends through our kid's teams. We laugh, struggle and even travel together - what do you call weekend long tournaments?
Kids need down time for creativity -- Those other kids aren't being creative, they're playing Xbox
You don't provide your kids with home cooked meals -- I'm a terrible cook.  They wouldn't be getting them anyway.  What about the family dinner table?  I think that's important and we do all eat together as often as possible and on weekend nights, but I actually find the car a much better place to talk.  They open up and are completely captive to my judgements.  They also can't storm off saying I don't understand or know anything.  It's perfect.
They have no time for homework - On the rare occasion when they
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have the whole night to work on something, it takes HOURS.  They get up, walk around, check facebook, grab a snack, doodle, stare into space, etc....  With a full schedule, my kids have learned that they need to be efficient.  There is no arguing or battling about homework.  The bus is their modern day library.  Although writing on a moving object doesn't produce the neatest work...

You'll raise stressed out kids -- Quite the contrary.  My kids have a great physical outlet provided for them.  They have an avenue to burn off any steam or stress that they experienced throughout their day.  The other side benefit is, I don't believe I'll raise anyone with eating disorders - they play hard and eat hard.  They burn off what they eat, so my pre and teenage girls eat like crazy and don't think a thing about it.  Food is fuel.
So go forth and feel good about putting your kids in activities.  They are more confident, and learn things that can last a lifetime.  My kids are in sports because they want to be.  No matter what kind of day they have, when I pick them up from their various practices, they ALWAYS come back to the car happier then when I dropped them off.  They're learning the joy of working toward something and achieving it.  As well as the agony of defeat - and realizing that feeling is temporary --- you can wake up the next morning and start fresh.  Unless I see signs of things going south, we'll all enjoy this ride and be grateful for the amazing memories and friends we're making.

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