Can I pass along a thought to some younger Moms out there that might be reading this? Moms who still have some “chicks” in their proverbial “nests?” I’m feeling a rumble in the distance, and I think it’s the start of the stampede of parents and their kids to all the activities that will be starting now that school has just gotten underway for another year. Yesterday was the first day of school in our county and we live just down the road from our local middle school. I saw lots of parents taking their kids to school, perfect backpacks on their sweet little backs. Soon to be filled with so many books, they’ll need a chiropractic adjustment by the end of the week. It makes me miss those days with my own kids on one hand, and on the other, I’m happy to be through those years and on to the next season! (The math was already getting way too hard for me when they were in about the 4th grade, so it’s a good thing mine are grown up!)
So here’s my sage advice: Don’t succumb to our culture that says you have to have your child signed up for an activity every day after school and three on Saturdays. I know that no parent intentionally sets out to stress out their own children and there are so many great clubs, activities, opportunites now-a-days (oh my, I said “now-a-days” – old folks like me say that). All parents want to provide the best for their kids, want to let them experience a wide variety of things so they can “find their niche.” But I’m afraid in the process of wanting to be really great parents, we’ve become a culture of stressed out, over-busy, “hurry-up-we-gotta-go!” type people and our kids are not getting better for it, they’re just learning that running around like a chicken with no head trying to do everything is “normal.” Not even just normal, but it seems to be coveted. It’s almost become a badge of honor: “And our ‘Most Harried Mother of the Year’ award goes to . . . . . . ” Don’t buy it, Mamas!! And lest you think I consider that I did this perfectly, au contraire! Mine are all grown up now, but I spent many a year hurrying kids into the family mini-van, peanutbutter sandwich in hand, shoes untied (once we even drove to a destination three hours away and realized Teddy didn’t even have his shoes with him!)
We don’t get many Christmas letters anymore, the popular thing (now-a-days) seems to be a family photo with a pre-printed greeting. But for years and years I swear the same family wrote every Christmas letter we got. Everyone was so busy. And then you’d get to read about what each family member did to contribute to the overall busy-ness of the group as a whole. It honestly seemed like a competition to see who led the busiest lives.
I have the priveledge of seeing a few kids for piano lessons each week. Sometimes I want to just grab their exhausted little faces (face-grabbing, where have I heard that before?) and tell them to “chill out” (as much as I don’t like that phrase.) I struggle with the constant conflict of a.) getting irritated that they don’t practice their lesson, and b.) the realization that they are trying to juggle school and scouts and sports and clubs and piano, all with their puny little arms.
I don’t want anyone to come away from this feeling “scolded” for having your kids in lots of activities. I just want to say to you, it’s OK to NOT have your kids signed up for a million things. Before you know it, you’ll be old(er) like me and you’ll be watching the neighbor kids go off to school, remembering when your own were doing the same. Soak up this time with them.