Sometimes doing things for your children is not the same as doing things with your children.
This was our schedule on a recent, but typical, Saturday.
12:00-1:00pm Daughter A’s soccer game
2:00-5:00pm Daughters A & B’s Daisy Girl Scout outing
5:15-6:15pm Daughter B’s hockey lesson
Add to this that all three activities were in different, although neighboring, towns and all required assembling outfits/gear/snacks. The majority of Saturday was spent preparing for, driving to, and watching the kids’ activities. There was no opportunity to just hang out with the kids.
Sunday is no better with housecleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, and getting ready for a new week.
Inevitably, I complain to my husband at the end of a weekend “I had no time to relax!” And inevitably, one of our young daughters complains to me “We never get to go play at the park!”
Weeknights seem to be just as crazy. There’s a soccer practice, a parent-student meeting at the high school to discuss a drama club trip, back-to-school night, a PTA committee meeting, fund-raiser night at California Pizza Kitchen, and on and on. The weeks seem to fly by and I find the evenings are consumed with doing things for my children but not with my children.
When our teen was younger, it seemed easier. In our family we had a strict rule of one major extra-curricular activity per season. Soccer in the fall, softball or community theatre in the spring. We added Girl Scouts because it met monthly or less. Although there are a plethora of activities available for children today (ballet lessons, gymnastics, swimming lessons, Irish dance, etc.) we were always very firm about not over-scheduling. A mid-week soccer practice and one Saturday game was very doable and left most of the weekend for playing and “family togetherness”.
They have their individual activities – soccer, hockey – and they have their together activities – Girl Scouts, piano lessons – and they have playdates times two. And we’re all feeling dissatisfied.
So this fall, my new (school) year’s resolution is to skip more.
What that really means is make time to play. Take time to enjoy each other. Say “no” to playdates when we already have activities on the calendar. Don’t accept every birthday party invitation. Put aside the chores until after we’ve gone to the park/ridden bikes/read a book together.
It’s going to be hard. There’s a part of me that wants to give my children everything possible. And a part of me that feels there is simply too much to do in too few hours. But I’m going to learn from my children. I’m going to learn from my oldest daughter, who reminds me that there quickly comes a time when she’d rather sleep in/go to the mall/ text her friends/watch The Hills than hang out with me. And I’m going to learn from my younger daughters who at 7 years old are still hedonistic. Yeah, we have our obligations, but we’re going to make sure we have fun too! Wanna skip with me?