Have you ever seen those people who have to stop walking, right in the middle of the sidewalk, to talk on their cell phones? Yeah, that’s me. I stink at multitasking. I wonder if my three year old would be reading, or potty trained at night, or a violin virtuoso if I had no other demands on my time. Those other responsibilities largely feature my one year old, who I constantly fret isn’t getting enough time or attention (or even her own sentence), my husband and dog (who both fall lower in the pecking order than my daughters), and myself (you guessed it, dead last). Now, before you suggest possible solutions to my problem, such as teaching my family to line up and wait patiently for my attention or running away from home, I should tell you that I’ve found a better answer. It’s hard to restrain myself from stopping people in the street to tell them about the wonder of kids’ classes.
First, some interesting statistics: according to a 2015 Pew Research Center study, four-in-ten children younger than six have participated in sports or an organized play group, while one-third have taken music, dance, or art lessons. The study draws a number of conclusions about how classes help develop young minds through fun and enriching activities. The classes also offer opportunities for social interaction for both kids and parents, not to mention some fresh air and a chance to get out of the house. However, there’s one more huge benefit that is generally overlooked. They make my life easier.
Right now, my older daughter is in swimming, art, music, dance, and science class, in addition to nursery school two mornings a week. At her age, most of these are drop-off, which gives my old year old some much-needed undivided attention. I also have my youngest in soccer and music, which gives her a chance to socialize and try to pick up some new skills. Lastly, and most importantly, I have my husband assigned to cover some of these classes (either as a participant or a chauffeur), which gives them some daddy-daughter bonding opportunities and gives me some greatly needed alone time. The arrangement is wonderful and only gets better this summer when camp season starts since my older daughter will have more of the activities she loves for longer periods.
In fact, the only drawback historically has been the planning of all this. Finding out about activities, especially the good ones, wasn’t easy. Organizing them to fit nap schedules, transportation needs (class providers within stroller-walking distance are a godsend), and the transient preferences of two toddlers was nearly as much effort as a full-time job. That’s a large part of why I started ClassCrasher. What if I could curate a list of the best providers in Chicago, and let parents search by time, location, activity, or anything else they could think of? What if it was totally free, with no monthly membership fees or restrictions on class choice?
I admit that there’s something inherently arrogant about building a business tailor-made for my family and me, and then offering it out for the world to use. However, I’d like to think that there are lots of moms out there who, even if they aren’t quite as inept at multitasking, value the same things I do. I want my kids to be overwhelmed with opportunities, to constantly stretch their horizons, to pursue their passions, and to delight in building skills. If I can manage to offer them all of those things in a way fits our schedule and simplifies my life, I call that a triumph.
Marylynne Schwartz is a mom, wife, newly minted entrepreneur, recovering attorney and community enthusiast. She blogs to share her parental musings as well as insider tips into making the most of (aka surviving) kid-centric things to do in Chicago. She also owns ClassCrasher.com – which helps parents find the best (and most convenient) kids activities in Chicago.