It was before Brody’s surgery, actually, that I determined I didn’t want to be that typical American family rushing from one lesson, practice, and place as fast as we could go. It dawned on me when my daughter wanted to quit dance that there is no reason to make everyone rush around, including myself, unless you just love it. So it became quite simple, especially for a working mom, to only choose to spend time doing things you need to or really desire to do.
It has been since making this decision and then going through a life-altering event that solidified my feelings about being overscheduled. What’s interesting and surprising to me, however, is that many friends and families I know do not share this same outlook. All summer long, families are filling up their summer, ‘free’ time with organized activities. Camps during the day, more camps at night, sleep-away camps, practices, lessons, swim meets, and filling time….Go, go, go! And when school starts again, it’s GO, GO, GO, GO!
This isn’t how I remember it at all growing up. I never went to camp, and no one I knew went to sleep-away camp. My childhood summer days were spent at the pool, mostly, hanging out with friends, bossing my little brother around, playing outside, and taking one family summer vacation. The norm has shifted so much for middle class families that I feel like the oddball out for not wanting to sign my kids up for something every week.
The only reason I am taking the time to reflect on this phenomenon is that I don’t know that everyone choosing this lifestyle is enjoying this hurried life. I often times hear the deep sighs of rushing mothers or the complaints of frantic parents about where they have to be next. Or, maybe I simply just don’t understand it and the reward in choosing to live like this. I miss the simple times (and this is coming from someone who’s always enjoyed staying busy and active).
Whether it be sports, music, or even tutoring, I sometimes wonder if we are rushing our kids through life and teaching them that busier is better when we should know as adults that that mentality and lifestyle isn’t benefitting our mental and physical health, or overall wellbeing. We have record amounts of adults on anxiety medication in this country and it’s now not uncommon to hear about someone you know suffering with depression. It just makes me wonder what we could change as a society and what’s going wrong.
Doesn’t life seem like it’s speeding up? I didn’t used to think much about it but after experiencing Brody’s brain tumor, surgery, recovery, and future unknowns, it does change one’s perspective and outlook on life…When you experience something that is completely out of your control and feel like you could loose someone you love more than life, suddenly the simple things aren’t so boring. So, I am ok and even happy staying at home and not doing much, something that I used to not be able to handle. I’m good with low-key and simple play dates.
And that is my choice. It’s your choice to spend your free time as you like. I hope all the kids being lugged around from one practice to the next lesson, I just hope it’s their choice too. If it’s your child’s joy to play that sport or play that piano, or dance, or sing, or whatever, then I understand and I’d be rushing to get them there too. Many times, however, I have kids tell me as a School Counselor how they don’t want to be taking those 3 dance classes, and piano, and tutoring, and church. Parents can overdo it and it’s not doing your child any favors, especially in elementary school.
If you’re not happy doing it, rushing around and you find yourself complaining about it, don’t do it! Your child isn’t going to be behind or never play sports if they haven’t done it by third grade. Childhood is fast and it should be fun. We don’t have to rush to be good at everything or just to stay busy for the sake of being busy.
This is a reminder for me, for my kids, for you and your family. Time is valuable and I want us to all be happy with how it’s spent. Being bored and quiet, as well as having fun and playing hard, is ok for me and I want it to be for my kids too.