Parents today are under a lot of pressure. They spend hundreds of dollars a month on gas, shuttling their kids from one activity to the next. In the back of their mind, they fear that if they do not engage in a frenetic schedule, their son or daughter will not be formed "properly". They fear that Johnny won't get into college and then won't have friends and then will be living at home forever. To counter this, they shuttle him to:
And on and on. It's as if it's a crime to have a Saturday when your kid just hangs out around the house and reads a book. (That would be ok if the reading was part of a Young Mensa Literature Discovery group.)
I used to struggle with this. I used to worry that my kids would somehow be at a disadvantage if they weren't involved in a million activities.
Until I stepped back, looked at them and marvelled at their unique personalities and God-given specialness. It was then that my wife and I decided to stop the madness and take it slower than most families would. Our weekends are no longer a taxi campaign to get the gas tank to zero. Instead, we enjoy doing as little as possible together as a family.
A general rule is this: one activity at a time. In other words, if Grace wants to do softball, she can't do softball and forensics at the same time. You can do this while kids are young. As they get older, multitasking activities will probably be the norm.
Don't get me wrong, we still do things. Take this past weekend as an example. My son, Thomas, wanted to learn how to play tennis. We got up early, for Saturday standards, and enjoyed an hour together hitting the ball against the equivalent to The Green Monster here in Berkeley Heights. Sunday, same thing. Without a doubt, these two hours were the most important thing I did all weekend. He had a blast and is now interested in a new sport.
Was it hectic? Not really. Important to my son? Totally.
It's ok to slow things down with your kids and your family. You don't have to maintian a crazy schedule. It's ok. Your kids will be perfectly normal if they learn to hang out at home, read a book, play in the yard and love their siblings. You don't have to attend every holiday party or end of year event.
Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to do this.
What's holding you back from a more manageable schedule with your family?