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Selecting your family's mix of enrichment activities is an ongoing process, but as each decision to participate is made, you, of course, must complete the process of incorporating the activity into your family's planner. Without this blueprint, you'll quickly find your family being unprepared and missing events. And, as you're fully aware by now, with the getting-ready and wrapping-up phases, there's more to scheduling the activity than just writing the meeting time on your calendar.

Scheduling All Phases of the Activity

The decision to take music lessons, for example, will entail all of the items listed in Table 1. Participating in a sport will require time in the schedule for all of the steps in Table 2. Participating in Scouts will involve setting aside both fixed times and flexible times to meet all of the requirements and enjoy all of the rewards, as you can see from Table 3.

Table 1. Music Lessons To Do List
Purchase music books or sheet music.
Rent or buy instrument.
Rent or buy instrument case.
Tune the instrument.
Repair the instrument.
Buy spare parts for the instrument, if appropriate.
Clean the instrument.
Practice.
Attend lessons.
Invite family/friends to recital or performance.
Attend recital or performance.

Table 2. Sports To Do List
Purchase or rent equipment.
Maintain/clean equipment.
Engage in physical conditioning.
Practice.
Participate in games/competitions.
Invite family/friends to games/competitions.
Attend parties after games/competitions.
Travel.

Table 3. Scouting To Do List
Attend regular meetings.
Work on projects.
Earn merit badges.
Buy uniform.
Clean uniform.
Sew badges on uniform.
Buy/borrow camping equipment.
Pack for camping.
Go camping.
Clean camping equipment.
Attend award banquets.
March in parades.
Participate in community service projects.

note

Whatever your activities, by now you should know that you need to create a comprehensive to do list, break it down into as many small components as you need, estimate the amount of time each item will take, indicate who needs to be involved in each task, and then schedule each item into the participant's personal schedule and into the family's planner.


Setting Up Systems to Save Time

With activities that demand so much involvement by so many people in your family, you'll be much better able to maintain a steady pace if you set up some systems to handle the routine aspects of the activities as efficiently as possible.

All structured enrichment pursuits require the participants to attend practices, lessons, performances, events, or classes. And they all require the participants to bring with them some amount of equipment or supplies. An easy way to cut down on lost minutes and stress is to make sure that each activity's stuff is stored in a portable container. Tote bags or duffle bags work well for lots of different types of equipment and are easy to fill, store, and grab.


note

Musical instrument cases are available for almost any instrument. You can find a variety of options for your instrument on the Internet by using your favorite browser and a search phrase consisting of the name of your instrument and the word “case” (example: cello case). One company that makes cases for a wide assortment of instruments is PRO TEC International. Suggested retail: $35–$179. Website: www.ptcases.com


If you're dealing with more delicate music or sports equipment, you might find it worth investing in a pack especially designed for the particular instrument (see Figure 1) or sport (see Figure 2). These packs are designed for easy carrying, and many of them are available as backpacks for hands-free and back-friendly portability. They're also designed to contain all of the accessories that go along with the main equipment. If you have a Scout in your family, consider supplying him with a hand-powered flashlight for camping to eliminate the need for last-minute scrambling to replace weak or dead batteries (see Figure 3).

Figure 1. A musical instrument case that has compartments for music, accessories, and spare parts will keep everything the family musician needs together and protected from damage.


Figure 2. Specialized sports bags provide compartments for uniquely shaped equipment.


Figure 3. The user generates the electricity to operate this flashlight by squeezing its handle, so it never needs batteries.


note

Sports equipment bags are available for almost any sport. You can find a variety of options for your sport on the Internet by using your favorite browser and a search phrase consisting of the name of your sport and the words “equipment bag” (example: hockey equipment bag). One company that makes equipment bags for a wide variety of sports is Wilson Sporting Goods. Suggested retail: $15–$110. Website: www.wilson.com


note

Coghlan's Dynalite flashlight works using friction instead of batteries. Suggested retail: $6.59. Website: www.coghlans.com


Periodically Reevaluating Enrichment Activity Schedules

If you find that your family—or a member of your family—is having trouble keeping up with every commitment, then you shouldn't hesitate to insist upon a reevaluation of your situation. Although many choices will be appealing, there's no need to try to do everything at once. You can encourage—or require—family members to limit themselves to a certain small number of activities at a time. Then, when it's time to reregister for the activity, find out whether they would like to stick with it or give something new a try. The real advantages to enrichment activities are that they don't require a long-term commitment and that participants can move in and out of them with relative ease.

tip

Remember that six or eight weeks of an activity for children will seem like a very long time because it's a large percentage of their lifetime. So, unless they have truly found their passions, switching activities at that interval will not seem too soon.


Remember that your family members need to find these pursuits enjoyable, not stress-inducing, for them to be beneficial. There are many factors to consider when selecting the right blend of activities for each person, but how those activities fit the individual's and the family's schedule is one very important determinant.

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