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Yesterday was one of those I-wanna-stop-and-catch-my-breath days. After traveling for part of the day, we rushed home, grabbed Emma’s dance bag, and flew into the studio for dance classes. I found myself irritable and snippy by the time we got there. Hurry up. We don’t want to be any later. Would you please pay attention so we can get you changed quickly?
I’d turned into someone I didn’t even recognize. We’re not used to that fast-paced go-go-go lifestyle, and I didn’t like the person I became in the midst of it.
But realistically, we live in a fast-paced world. We opt for high-speed Internet connections, overnight shipping, and self-checkouts (with no lines) at the grocery store. Kids’ lives seem to be moving at the speed of light too. There are dance classes, piano lessons, soccer teams, playdates, story hours, school projects, and more vying for their attention…. and their time.
So where’s the balance? Where’s the fine line between exposing our kids to high-quality activities and exposing them to too many different activities that swallow up their time to just be kids?
We decided even before we had Emma that we didn’t want to be the family who was rushing to a different event every night of the week. We appreciated the wisdom we saw in other families who limited their kids’ activities. We wanted to be intentional with our time with her, and we knew we couldn’t do that if we were demoted to taxi drivers shuttling her to a different activity every night.
We did well guarding our family schedule until last year. We let Emma join the homeschool group’s choir, a ballet classes, and the Christmas musical at church at the same time. Because she is passionate about music and dance, these all seemed to fit. Then during one December weekend we found ourselves overwhelmed with a dance show on Friday night, a church Christmas musical dress rehearsal all day Saturday, a church musical on Sunday evening, and a homeschool choir program on Monday night. We ran from one activity to another without being able to fully appreciate each one. We were checking them off the weekend’s to-do list and thinking about what was coming next.
We realized that was NOT the way to expose Emma to different activities. She was stressed. We were stressed. No one was able to enjoy it all. So we’re back to being pickier about what she participates in.
We definitely aren’t perfect on this one! Sometimes I wonder if we’ve swung too far the other way and should be encouraging her to try more activities. But for now our goal is for her to play… to have space to imagine… to avoid stress… to be a kid.
How do you guard your family schedule? Have you found the fine line of just the right number of activities? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.
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