We’re halfway through the semester in the fall, and like every other day, I’m begging the kids to “hurry, hurry, hurry” – they just got home from school but we only have a short 20 minutes to get a snack, change, and hurry into the car to get to dance/gymnastics/guitar/whatever-activity-for-the-day.
Amid the nagging, my 7-year-old daughter looks up at me and says, “I just want a playdate, Mom.” What? You just want to play at home and not go to this wonderful, enriching activity where you have to listen to an adult for yet another hour of your day?? One word: GUILT.
I’ve done what I’ve always sworn I’d never do. And I’ve done it in a couple of short years AND with four kids to keep up with. I’ve totally overscheduled us. I got caught up in the race (to where?) and catapulted my kids into a supercharged pace of ballet, soccer, jazz, guitar, gymnastics, basketball, you name it.
Big-time rookie mistake.
The scary part is this: just two of my kids are in all of these activities. The younger ones just get carted around and wait for big sister/brother to finish said activity so we can move on to the next thing with a super stressed out mommy on overdrive. I’m not even to the point where I’ve got four different lives to manage (and my own!) with sporting events, homework, projects and dance recitals. I’ve got a friend with six kids ages 5-17, and I see how crazy her life is – I know what my reality will be in a few short years. Why am I doing all of this now?
I see how it’s happened. I’m a dabbler – I’ll try any activity you throw at me and my kids are sort of the same way. Mind you, my kids asked to do all of those activities, but the parent in me should have cut one or two out. But no, I thought we could manage it all and keep up with homework, “free play,” home-cooked healthy dinners, four baths, and a normal bed time. Oh, and be really happy doing them all. Dare I say impossible??
Does anyone feel the same? Is anyone else exhausted just from the sheer thought of everything that must be fit in from 3 pm-8 pm?
So, I’m trying something new this semester. I cut out most weeknight activities. The kids are limited to one activity (and in my daughter’s case, one instrument, too). Lucky for me, they’re young enough that being on a basketball team means practice right before the game – not two times a week plus a game on the weekends. I’m saving a ton of money (bonus!) but I also have to make sure my kids don’t just plop in front of the TV with a bag of chips when they get home from school.
Will my kids forever be behind? If my son doesn’t make the 9th grade lacrosse team, will it be because he didn’t do the winter lacrosse clinic when he was 6? I’ll take my chances but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me nervous. When you see everyone else in every activity, you start to think it’s the only way to go. If all of the other kids are getting ahead now, will mine be able to play catch up in a few years (and are all the other kids actually getting ahead?)?
So we’ll see how the winter goes. It could get ugly – those dark, cold days of January and February might just do me in with no activity to rush to (I admit – I sometimes thrive on the stress). Or, it could be our best one yet – with harmonious siblings and a laid back momma. One can dream right?
Either way, I’m sure I’ll be looking back on these days longingly in a few short years when I have four kids going in every direction. Until then, let me know if you want a play date – we’re wide open (well, actually, first let us finish our reading, spelling, math worksheets and special projects, then I swear – we’re wide open).