I feel like I am literally standing at one of the crossroads of life and staring it in the face. I need to make some hard choices and I am sick to my stomach about it.
Maybe that is a bit dramatic, but that is how I feel.
This week, I am choosing what I want my schedule to look like in the fall. Slow paced vs. fast paced. Free and easy vs. packed and full. Nights home vs. nights away. I am choosing right now between what is and what could be.
One daughter has been asked to try out for a ballet company. Her current teacher praised her focus and natural ability and believes she has much potential to go on to the next level. This would take Elle’s once a week casual dance class up to 3 days a week plus summer camps and Saturdays. Not to mention more recitals, more costumes, more rehearsals and more money. And more times I am going to have to do a ballet bun. (Hair is not my thing!) I kinda need to decide soon since tryouts are today!
My other daughter has been asked by a friend to play soccer. Croft says she wants to do it because all of her friends play soccer and so do her cousins. But we have never done soccer at our house, so I am new to practices during the weeks and games on Saturdays. The sign up deadline is May 19.
And Crew turned 8 yesterday which means Scouts. His first meeting was yesterday. Although Scouts may be beneficial, it is also another activity to add to the weekly calendar. Plus he wants to start a heavy duty basketball league next fall with real practices and real games. No more of this Jr. Jazz stuff where you can’t steal, but you can travel. He wants more challenge. This league would be more practices and more games than we are used to.
It is not that we haven’t done any activites for the kids before. We have, but thus far they have all been recreational or casual – so a practice here; a game there; one class a week; shorter seasons, etc. And besides the piano, the kids usually only do one activity at a time. Some have been during the day too because my kids were still young.
This casual approach has allowed our week nights to be fairly clear of activities. We eat dinner together most nights around 5:30 or 6:00 pm. Mondays are reserved for Family Night and the other nights Chad or I head off to church responsibilities. The kids do homework and read and color and practice the piano and take baths with the parent that is home. Our Saturdays are spent doing chores together around the house and playing with friends. Just last night Crew and Croft sat in our big easy chair and he read her a whole Junie B. Jones chapter book.
We are slow paced, and we are home more than we are anywhere else. And that is how I like it.
But the kids are getting older and more choices and opportunities are coming in and my burden feels heavier. I feel a huge responsibility that I am the GATEKEEPER of my family’s calendar. I choose what it gets filled with.
Do I want my calendar filled with practices and games and rehearsals?
Do I want to spend my nights in the car shuttling back and forth?
Do I want to drag my younger kids around with me?
Do I want to rush through family dinner or skip it all together?
Do I want to be a frazzled mom that is often on edge?
Do I want my home to be just a pit stop and a place to crash at the end of the day?
NO, I don’t! The thought of this is what makes me sick to my stomach.
I want space and calm and peace and down time. That is how I thrive.
BUT I do want my kids to develop talents and be active and find their place where they thrive. And I played sports as a kid and loved the team experiences.
So I’ve asked myself many questions:
What should I do?
Why is this decision so hard for me?
Am I the only one that agonizes over my family calendar?
Am I lazy or selfish?
What am I afraid of?
What am I protecting?
What am I giving up?
What am I gaining?
How much choice do I have here?
What are the long term affects of my choices now?
I don’t have any answers right now. I sure wish I did. But as I talk to my friends they all have different answers for me too. One friend told me to “suck it up” and another told me as kids get older busyness is inevitable. Others are fully supportive of a slow paced lifestyle and think that is what is best.
I am not sure if I will go left or I will go right at this crossroad. I am really torn on what I want for my family and what I want for my kids. I am considering all my options because I do believe I have choice. I am not a victim to busyness. If I take the busy path, I chose it.
But thanks to Facebook this morning, I am now contemplating this blog post and this quote I saw (thanks Rose):
I’ve got my work cut out for me. I guess I’ll be hitting my knees. Meanwhile, if any of you have figured out the perfect balance of children’s activities and peace, let me know.
7 thoughts on “Crossroads”
This is a dilemma for me too. I honestly detest being too busy, it stresses me out and turns me into “mean Mommy”. But I also want my kids to follow their passions and talents. We have decided to let our kids choose one extra curricular activity after they turn 10. If we have time we will sign the younger ones up for soccer, but if not then they don’t play a sport that season. It has worked well for us because with Scouts and other church activities it is so hard to fit everything in and still have family time! We do value Scouting and think it is important and teaches them valuable life skills and I don’t want other activities to be of higher priority than that.
It is inevitable as they get older that busyness comes, but I still think you have a choice. As my kids have gotten older we have all had to choose between what the most important things are and cut out the rest. Nothing touches Monday nights, and Friday nights are pretty sacred too (date nights). My oldest daughter is an amazing dancer and she loves it, but this past year she chose on her own not to participate in dance any more because she wanted more time with her family before she goes to college. I don’t know why some people feel it’s so important for kids to be busy. Does that make us seem like better parents? Are they trying to make sure their kids are better than other people’s kids? Honestly, I think the most important place for kids to be is in the home and with their family. In the end I just want my kids to be good people. Not that we aren’t involved in lots just because we have a ton of kids, but we are very particular about where we spend our time and money!
Honestly, when I let go off my expectations and dreams of high school teams and scholarships, life got fun again. My boys play the sports that they think are fun. Very few of them are on competitive teams. I doubt any of them will ever make a team based on merit and I refuse to play the politics game. They play for fun, for exercise, and for entertainment. Our week is full and we don’t have a lot of down time, but that’s a good thing with boys. We also don’t waste time when we are home. We don’t watch TV and we limit the electronics. We aren’t busy just to be busy and when we sign up for something that turns out to be a waste of time, I don’t feel guilty walking away and saying that it doesn’t work for us…even when it costs me. Good luck! That’s alot of decisions at one time!
It is a toughy. We were unaware of how many cult-like activities are out there that can suck you and your kids in. Plus your time, money and emotion. Do you realize every weekend all across the nation there are traveling leagues for everything! Who does it benefit? The kids, the hotels, the sport complexes, the coach that is getting paid, the league? there is a lot of money changing hands. So who is it benefiting? Hmm, it is worth asking yourself this question. If you just think about all the youth sports/activities that are happening every weekday and weekend…Wrestling, Swimming, Basketball, Softball, Baseball, Soccer, Baton Twirling and Parades, Acting, Music…you name it there is a league or camp to take your money and kid. I regret falling for the compliments “your kid is awesome, you have to let them fine tune their talent, you never know where it will take them.” Did my kids excel…YES, they did! But it came with added responsibility of never missing a practice or meet or game because you would be letting the team down because you are the star and how are we going to win without you. We never took a family vacation because our summers were packed full of team obligations and camps, it is a vicious cycle. Yes, we traveled a lot for sports, they had fun…so in away it was like a vacation. If you don’t mind sitting in a 90 degree indoor pool for 6 hrs in the summer while the world is going on without you on a sunny beautiful summer day.
My kids excelled in sports. Loved being on a team. Got scholarships. And both my kids have careers emphasizing the sports that they excelled in as kids. But, if we would have taken the gas money, the cost of uniforms, t-shirts, the fee’s associated with the sport, the hotel expenses, food money and the time we spent away from home and put that into a college fund they would not have needed scholarships. Maybe they would have had time to become GREAT at something else. I think you will have regrets either way. You know your kids. Do they want to be part of a team, explore what other kids are doing? Then put them on a team that takes up 4-6 weeks of your time or a day a week for practice, not every weekend a year which then turns into another year and then you are in this vicious cycle.
Best of luck on your decision.
Just thought I would throw it out there from an experienced sports mom with grown children. I have regrets of not setting limits and letting them do it all. Life was busy, fun and hectic but I think we missed out on a lot too.
This is a big concern of mine as well. I can’t stand the idea of all day soccer games or several days a week practices. It just doesn’t seem worth it to me..even if they are good at it.
I’ve recently re-read Elder Oak’s talk “Good, Better, Best”…and have been trying to apply it to my life.
Good luck in your decision..I feel for you.
You have to decide what is right for you and for your family and that is the bottom line. At the same time, we all need to remember that what works for one family might not work for another. We are a ballpark family. I grew up at the ballpark and have nothing but great memories of the time we spent traveling to tournaments, attending camps, supporting one another, working in the snack shack, keeping score for city tournaments….I loved every minute if it. I learned to work hard. I rejoiced in the successes of my siblings. I cherished the time spent next to my mom on a chair at the ballpark where we laughed a talked. I loved the drive to camps with my dad. those things helped shape who I am. All those things could have been learned in a hundred different ways but I wouldn’t trade any of it. The business of it can be hard but it is satisfying for me to watch ny kids support one another. I love hours spent with my little family eating sandwiches on a blanket in between games. Nothing makes me smile bigger than seeing all my boys on the field together…the coach, the player, and the bat boy while I sit preparing my YW lesson while my girls read books next to me. To me it is heaven. We cannot judge what is right for others. We have received a lot of flack for being a ballpark family because all of our kids play. We don’t push, they love it. We have FHE, we read scriptures as a family, we eat breakfast together and dinner when we can, we fulfill our church callings, we are there at the “crossroads” daily…we are good people and this works for our family. I know you and I know this decision has been difficult. You know your family and the needs…there is no right or wrong…just don’t judge those of us who live, love, and thrive in what you fear. Love you friend!
As a non parent, my naive strategy is to limit the nights or the number of activities. ie every kid can do one sport and one cultural activity. Or, everyone can do something on these nights, but this night MUST be kept free (I really respect FHE that Morman’s do!)
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