Practical Dad

Single PracticalDad:  Scheduling the Night’s Activities

With the mate away for a week on business and three active kids, making the activities happen will require some choreography.  Actually, it's more akin to a linear programming exercise in Operations Management.

The constraints are:

  • there will be a family meal together in some manner;
  • money won't be spent on fast food, which is being held in reserve for an otherwise unmanageable night;
  • child A has a play practice commencing at 4:15 through 5:30 and since it's a professional stage production, absence is not an option;
  • child B has a school play practice commencing at 6:30 in the evening with a 10 minute drive time, including a stop for another kid pick-up to the practice;
  • child C has a cub scout meeting, for which PracticalDad is the Den Leader, so absence is not an option;
  • children A and C attend a different level of school and are dismissed later than child B;

After checking the schedule and working through the other obligations, I'll handle it in the following manner:

  1. Child A will be picked up from school and dropped off at the practice, with the PracticalDad coming home to handle other issues;
  2. Child C will come home on the bus and be supervised by child B, who is certainly old enough to babysit until my return;
  3. Leftover soup will be put on the stove to heat up and sandwiches pre-made until returning to get child A;
  4. Child B is old enough to monitor soup and is even now preparing the occasional family meal when she chooses - or is asked;
  5. Child C is old enough to set the table under my supervision, so the table and food will be ready on return with child A;
  6. The family will sit to eat at about 5:50 in the evening and can have a twenty minute meal together before the next set of departures;
  7. Child C can throw on his scout uniform before leaving - or even take it with him - to pick up the child B friend and make the school play drop-off;
  8. Child C and I will do scouts and return home to child B, who can be alone for 75 minutes to do homework and take care of the dishes;
  9. On returning, I can check out completed homework and check on dishes while child C takes a bath and prepares for bed;
  10. Child B will be brought home by the parents of the friend that we picked up for the evening play practice.

By this point, two of them should be about ready for bed when the last child arrives home.  Then we assure that the regular daily tasks - clothing and lunches - are ready for the following morning.  Those things don't just go away amidst the bedlam.

It sounds crazy - and it really is - but the reality is that we don't permit the children to take on too many activities.  We have said no to requests for more activities and have forced them to finish activities that they'd started and found they didn't enjoy; at the expense of trying something else.  This is simply what can happen on an evening when the varied interests of three children collide.

And the climax to the evening will be a well-deserved beer while planning the next day's forays as a single parent.

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