So, we have celebrated Mother's Day, and May is winding down. As predicted, the weather went from sleeting to 95 degrees with 112%humidity in the space of ten days. School is winding down (and/or done, even for us homeschoolers), graduations are happening (including our first child! from high school!), couples are getting married, and families are planning their summers. I feel like spring may be as busy as Christmas. It's fun stuff, and thank goodness, not so cold, but busy times always make me feel a little like I'm losing my mind.
Of course, I'm busy all the time, so maybe I've already lost my mind?
I've been thinking about this busy-ness a lot this season (and by season, I mean having tween and teenagers). Do we (I) need to be so busy? Isn't running around a breeding ground for conflict? Seriously, trying to remember who needs to be where and at what time is stressful! Plus the added burden of rush hour and traffic. On top of that, we deal with construction everywhere (will this area ever be done?), slowing down the commute, the drive to wherever-you-need-to-be, trying to get back home, etc. Also, most families have one or more things to get to, with one-usually more than one- child, which means carpools and call/text-trees. A lot of us are married, too, which means we have a marriage to feed and care for. Then, of course, don't forget chores, and groceries, and pets, and friends, and relationships, and ....
It feels like it will never end. There is such a pressure to be busy! There is pressure to have the kiddos involved in every activity that is available. Sports and dance and competition teams are awesome (I love dance, myself), don't get me wrong. I think though, I'm beginning to believe that the collective we are too busy. Parents seem to think that being so involved in everything (not to mention that we are spending so much money) equates to doing the best for their children.
Giving our kids the best opportunities, and making them competitive for the right schools, is preparing them for life. I don't disagree with that, but I do disagree with having everyone in the house SO busy, running around to make it to practices, and clubs, and meetings. I struggle with this issue. My eleven year old needs activity. My fourteen year old loves music and lacrosse. We are a one income family. I dislike traffic- especially warm weather traffic around here on Thursday afternoons. Our family deals with shift work, aging parents and grandparents, special needs children, and homeschool. It can get frenetic fast.
It is kind of a radical thing, in this area, to not be at a gym, or a pool, or a dance studio 15 hours a week. It's not a popular position to just have one activity per kid per season, it's not even realistic if your child is talented and shows a passion for something. My daughter's best friend is a ballerina, and is in the studio almost every night. Ballet careers, though, are for the young, and she is in that season of needing to train if she desires to become a professional dancer. I support her entirely.
So, you can see that this is a conundrum of a topic. Where do you draw the line? At what point is too much... well... too much?
It's something to think about.
For me, finally backing down from activity frenzy was a financial choice. When I started adding up the cost for everything the kids wanted to do it became very clear that if I wanted to feed my family real food, and drive in a safe car, we simply couldn't afford it. That didn't make it an easy choice, mind you. It's not fun telling your child no just because it costs too much. There is a silver lining, though; it definitely builds character. It certainly teaches real life lessons to growing children that everything costs something, and we need to make choices, and honor God and our families by those choices. We are not commanded to be busy. We are, however, compelled to honor God with our lives.
When we finally did gain a little time to see some perspective on how we were living week-to-week, and compare it to how things were now, all of us remarked that it was nice to eat dinner at home every night. We were all sitting around the table for the most part, for most nights. We had more money in the bank. We had our pajamas on before ten p.m. All of us, every single one of us, had to admit it was nice to not have to go back out of the house at seven o'clock at night. It was pretty awesome, actually.
So I'd like to offer the idea that everything has its own season. Teams, for example, are pretty defined (we have busy spring-times mostly because of lacrosse- it's a spring sport). Sometimes we need to change schedules around. And sometimes, we do need to re-evaluate and do less, and it is the parent's job to make that boundary. And while it isn't always a fun job, it is a worthwhile job, and a very meaningful and rewarding one. We love our children and want to help them in any way we can, which may mean saying no. Definitely, though, parents supporting one another is better than parents judging each other. It's not our job to make parenting choices for others. Instead, parents, we need to be supportive of each other. We need to recognize that what's best for you and what worked for her may not be the best option for me. And that is OK.