Sunday, August 28, 2011

How Much?

How much is enough and how much is too much?

It's a pretty common thing for parents these days (maybe it's always been like this) to pick out something they want their child in and put them in it from a very young age and then add more and more things to their activity list until they are overwhelmed and exhausted.

In a way, it robs a child of an otherwise care-free childhood. But because the world is so competitive, parents want their child to have a leg up. I understand that.

I'm not really attacking other parents here. I just worry that I'm not doing enough for my children in that aspect. We can't afford a whole lot of activities, so often, we have to pick and choose. Our oldest took a community art class in the spring, and because money was tight, he was the only one enrolled in something at the time. This fall, I have signed my daughter up for dance and my older two boys will be doing flag football, but I don't have anything to put my 4-year-old boy in and I worry that I'm shorting him somehow by not.

That's the thing. I don't want to overschedule my kids; I'm kind of against that, actually. My fear is that I will miss something they are good at and they won't have an opportunity to develop their talents. After all, I wouldn't want them to waste a talent (see The Parable of the Talents). I think that childhood is the best time to learn new things. Not that you can't as an adult, but I spend my time and effort right now teaching my children and don't have a lot of time leftover for developing my talents. But I had plenty of time growing up to do that.

So how much is enough? My boys have been able to participate in a variety of different sports--baseball, flag football, basketball, and a little soccer and gymnastics. They've taken art classes and Spanish class. They take piano lessons (from me--it's free). But we don't have the funds, and I'm not sure I want to dedicate that much time away from family life, to have them participate so fully that they become extremely skilled.

What happened to the days where kids learned to play baseball and football by playing with their siblings and the neighbor kids and then if they wanted to pursue the sport, they played in high school?

These days, if your child hasn't been playing since, well, childhood, by the time they are in high school, they won't be good enough to compete with everyone else.

So that presents a dilemma in my mind. I don't know how to give them these opportunities without overscheduling and exhausting them (and my wallet).


swedemom said...

This idea of scheduling your children for every activity to give them a leg up is a very new notion. I heard that especially among the more educated/wealthy that the number of hours parents spend shuttling their kids around to various activities has increased dramatically in the last ten years. I am a less is more type of mother in that area. I can't afford the money for all the extra activities. And my health and sanity simply will not allow me to shuttle around my kids to multiple activities. So I haven't allowed myself to feel guilt about it. We'll do the best we can and what fits our family.

That is what I love about revelation though. What works for my family activities-wise may not work for your family. You get to choose how your resources are spent and if the additional effort of driving and practicing is worth your time. If it is, go for it and don't feel guilty. If it isn't, let it go and don't feel guilty!

Royalbird said...

Very well put.


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