Navigating the Rat Race- HELP!

Last week, I received this email from a friend, and I asked her if I could post it here.  I have been in the same situation, and this year, we have 45 minutes in between my daughters’ dance classes.  Many of us live out of town, so we occasionally need to “kill time” to save gas.  In my friends case, and in mine, it’s not overscheduling.  Our kids each only have one extracurricular activity, but what do you do with three kids with one activity each?  I have some suggestions, but we want to hear ideas from many moms who have successfully navigated the “Rat-Race!”

After a crazy afternoon of soccer, school, new baby, etc. on Monday, I was completely frazzled!  Aren’t all moms trying to get the school year schedule down pat in these first weeks of school?  Surely there are some moms out there with good advice!  And surely there are some with the same struggles~ how to balance afterschool activities with peace and harmony!!   On Monday I have to leave home and drive 20 miles to pick up my son from school by 2:15, but soccer is not until 5:30.  Since I live 25-30 minutes away, and it costs me $5+ in gas just one way, I decided to stay in town until dad could meet him at soccer.  AND I was determined not to eat out.  Aren’t we supposed to be communing around the dinner table talking about our day, while eating a healthy home-cooked meal which (should) save money?  So I had to fill that 2.5+ hours without dinner being a part of it!!  You see my dilemma…  I’ll spare you the details, but after sitting in the mall parking lot with the car running so i could nurse with AC on and play Peter Pan for the older two, by the time we got to soccer (early), the baby was screaming and I was losing it!  I do not want to do that again!!!  So, i’ve considered picnics and the library and the park and so on, but I would LOVE to know if any experienced moms have any advice!!  I envy those that live in town and zip from home to school to soccer to church in mere moments!

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photo: © Falcon1708 |


  1. I hear your pain! I also have 3 kids, and getting that “one thing per kid” thing down is easier said than done. I also try to consolidate trips, and in between we can catch up on homework, go by the park, or run another errand. I try to carpool with another friend when I do have to be in two places at one time. And I’ve come to peace with it being ok to share a meal together out (that free dining card comes in real handy for that!). Whatever you do, keep it simple and be flexible. If you are calm about it, they will hopefully catch your attitude. Good luck!

  2. I have to agree that sometimes eating out does become essential (occasionally) to keeping the schedule under control. Sarah has the local restaurants listed that offer Kids Eat Free nights, and I always find that extremely helpful!
    Like Kristi, I have found that the calmer I stay (very difficult at times), the less out of control the whole situation gets…
    Another way we sometimes kill time when a walk or the park is not an option because of the weather is to go to Chick-fil-a for a small snack or beverage and spend some time on the indoor playground. As frequently as High Country families are eating meals there, I am sure they don’t mind us making use of the playground with tiny purchases on occasion! 😉

  3. I agree with Kristi and Amy. I occasionally get a fruit cup and drink at Chick-Fil-A, and I eat there for meals lots, so they don’t mind.

    Another suggestion is to go visit a friend who lives in town! I’ve been known to call my friend Amber, or another friend and stop by for a few minutes in between activities. If you have one day that’s really busy, how about making a weekly playdate? You can help them with the kitchen or laundry or offer to bring a snack.

    The Playhouse is also a good idea. If you have a membership, you can stop in for a little while while you’re in town.

  4. Dear Rat-Race Navigator,
    I, too, live 20-30 minutes from town & have 2 girls in afterschool activities. After several years of mismanaged time, long hours in the car and meltdowns, we took a much-needed hiatus from ALL activities last year and it was worth it. Now that we have added one activity per child back in to the mix…here are a few of our favorite activities to share during those in-between hours…
    -Turchin Art Center or Jones House for a quiet, inspiring tour of creativity in action
    -a calming dip in the pool at the parks & rec. complex
    -a picnic in the rear of the SUV…this is something my kids always bring up & remember as a wonderful “silly” moment (we had a picnic planned & the rain derailed our plans…so we spread the blanket, squished into the back & giggled with wreckless abandon over PB&J)
    -a visit to the pet store or humane society to see & pet the animals
    -Higher Grounds for a hot chocolate & a game of checkers
    -ASU Geology Dept. museum of rocks, fossils & yes, dinosaur poop!!
    -a bike ride, walk or dip in the creek on the greenway
    -wildflower picking by the less travelled roadsides
    -impromptu plein air painting on one of the Parkway overlooks
    -and the ever-famous library, parks & Chick-fil-A
    The bottom line is to be enthusiastic & do a little preparation before you pick them up from school. Give yourself permission to engage the kids in activities that YOU find relaxing and fun…and everyone will have a good time.