I spent two days and late nights decorating a retail space with my sister for Shade clothing. We measured, hammered, pinned, glued, taped, cleaned, propped, hung, shopped, steamed, etc. We concepted, created, deliberated, questioned, changed, and solved problems. When I went to bed at 1 am the last night, my body ached and I was mentally exhausted.

The next day was Fall Break for my kids and I had absolutely zero planned. I was so tired and didn’t even really get moving til about noon. I was feeling kind of guilty that I wasn’t maximizing the kids’ day off like I should. As I was doing breakfast dishes at 2 pm in my robe, I looked out the window and saw…

Crew and Elle playing (yes, they were still in their pajamas too.)

They had adapted our back deck into a volleyball court. The hose was the net and they were working together to meet goals of how many times they could keep the “ball” in the air. Elle wanted to remember her threes times tables so they opted to count by 3’s.

About this time Elle’s friend called her to go fishing and I heard her say, “No thank you. I just want to spend time with Crew today. We don’t get to play very much together.”

Then I noticed Croft was drawing a picture of a baby sleeping.  (I love her little ‘S’)

Next she roped off the upstairs to help keep Locke asleep during his nap.  She just wanted to figure out a way to help me and Locke and this is what she came up with. (Not a bad idea.)

My kids continued to play for the rest of the afternoon.  They traced pictures, played school and at one point they even tried grass surfing.

After observing my kids, my guilt left. I remembered that my kids benefit from being under-scheduled. They love time and space to just be kids. They need time to cultivate their own creativity through unstructured play.  My kids get tired of being whisked off to the next play date, family outing, team practice or cultural arts experience.

And I get tired too.  I noticed that I am at my worst as a mom when I am tired or over scheduled.  The most stressful times in the home are when we are trying to go somewhere and no one really wants to go. The kids can never seem to move fast enough for me, so often I resort to yelling to speed things up.  Because I know this about me, I try to under-schedule as much as possible and pad our day with free time.

Sometimes I think that I am the only mom left in America that hasn’t put her kids in soccer, in a dance company, or in piano lessons.  I struggle with this decision every day. My kids do have 1 activity that they participate in and that activity changes from season to season, but everything is way low key right now.

I am reluctant to involve my children in too many things because I value our down time so much.  The kids play with friends after school.  Then we eat family dinner 6 out of 7 nights together.  After we sit around the table together and draw and color and do homework.  Some days I never get in the car.

I am not 100% convinced I am doing the right thing. I might regret not getting them started earlier in activities or pushing them harder or exposing them to more sports.  My kids just might end up being losers in high school with no talents. But for now I believe that growth, happiness, bonds and joy come in a mom and kids being under-scheduled.

1 thought on “Underscheduled”

  1. let’s start an underscheduling-moms group. we can be co-chairs. then again, i don’t need the pressure 😉 but, seriously, we have EXACTLY the same outlook on family time and activities and a personal inability to cope with too much on the calendar. it’s just what works for us, and while sometimes i question it, i think your (our)kids will ultimately be better off for your (our) willingness to embrace, rather than fight what works.

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