Enough Already!

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I’m drove!

And I suspect I’m not alone.

While September had its fair share of sunny days and mild temperatures, I feel like I’ve been living in a 30-day long tornado.  And there is no low pressure system in sight.

Since the school year began, we’ve been in a constant spin of registration fees and scheduled activities. The magnetic calendar on the side of my fridge is more complicated than the project plan for the construction of the Long Harbour Processing Plant…seriously.

My husband and I have become nothing more than a parenting tag team:

“I’ll do pick up if you can get home ahead of me and start supper.”

“We have to get all homework done tonight because the next three nights are booked solid.”

“We need to miss 1 out of 2 tae kwon do classes to fit in 2 out of 3 soccer practices.”

“I’ll trade you a cadet night for a music lesson and raise you a dance class.”

I wish I were exaggerating.

The sad part is, no one is to blame for this madness but ourselves. Somewhere in our quest to raise well rounded, active, healthy children, we’ve completely lost our minds.

When you and the other well intentioned parents spend half of your kids’ soccer practice complaining about how much of a toll (both financially and otherwise), their activities are taking, it is clearly time to press “pause.” So we did. We made the conscious decision NOT to let our kids try out for the all-star soccer team this fall. (Was that a collective “gasp” I just heard?)

In our family, we believe everyone has their “thing.” That special talent or gift that they possess. Some people are lucky and figure it out early in life. Some spend their whole lives searching for it. If I felt soccer was their “thing”, I would have gladly made the commitment. Likewise, if either of my children were passionate about the sport – even if I was not convinced - we still would have been all in.  But neither of these things were true. So we decided to pass.

Initially, when our children started getting involved in structured activities, we would decide on a budget for the season, pick an activity (or two) for each of them, and carry on. Life was relatively simple. As they’ve gotten older, the number of activities has grown to at least three each and the budget has grown right along with it. It’s so easy – as one of my clients so eloquently put it – “to just keep on keeping on.” But if we are truly being honest with ourselves, at some point we have to admit that, “We’ve tried that. Doesn’t seem to be your thing. Let’s move on.” Or, “OK. You can swim/skate/whatever now. That’s good enough for us.” Or, “We have allocated this much money for activities and we’ve hit our max. We’re done.”

When I was growing up (and I’m not that old…really), only the well-off kids took private piano lessons. You learned how to play most sports by actually playing. I’m worried that we are not only raising a stressed out, over scheduled generation, but that we are willing to bankrupt ourselves to give our children some type of fictitious “edge.” 

A parent commented to me recently, “I’m lucky. We can afford it.”

Here’s another thought: “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.” I get that we are invested in our kids, in ensuring that they have every opportunity available to them. But sometimes I think we need to pause, assess and give ourselves permission to say, “Enough already!”

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  • Jeremiah
    October 03, 2013 - 07:21

    Well put.

  • Brenda Hollohan
    October 02, 2013 - 20:12

    Jackie, we hit that road as well, only it took us until the eldest two were in their teenage years. Living on a pond, I said swimming was the only thing I insisted on they HAD to do. What I noticed, was that they were so involved in structured sports/dance/music/whatever, that they had not time to just be kids and hang out with their friends. It was like they didn't know what to do or how to interact. My husband and I decided one fall that we weren't going to register them in anything (they could all swim by then). At first we all wondered how we were going to fill all those evenings, but suddenly supper was no longer rushed. Homework got proper attention and didn't have to be finished in the morning. The kids got to get to know their friends and we all benefited with more time as a family. Now our daughters have chosen what is important for them...what it is they want to pursue, including a part-time job, and as long as it doesn't involve more than two timeslots per weeknight, we're good with that. Life is about two things.....love and balance. Love is everything, balance simply lets you enjoy it more!

  • Tracy
    October 02, 2013 - 11:45

    I certainly agree.... I think some exposure to new activities are great as it allows them to present their personalities and likes... But sometimes overdoing it prevents them from the fun of play and just being kids...they have so much structure all day. Having some quiet time is as good for their body and spirit...not to mention their relationships at home and the community...Of course we all want the best for our kids but more is not always best... Thank you Jackie for making awareness to a subject that many think of but sometimes never do anything about... We have chosen your route of thinking and we are confident that our kids will be just fine...