I’m sitting here writing this article just as I’m considering placing Ava in a volleyball league with her neighbor friends. Meantime, she’s on a competition gymnastics team, is wrapping up basketball season and will pick up soccer again in the spring. Wednesday night is our only free night as a family right now. Then add to that my son’s baseball schedule that is just gearing up.
So, I think I’ve answered my own question… our family has to have some balance, some down time, play time and free time. But, I also want Ava to have every opportunity to try all kinds of activities. We’ve tried dance…nope, not her thing. We’ve tried cheerleading, again, not her cup of tea. Again, it’s a balance of trying to let your child experience all sports has to offer but also still letting them just be a “kid”! Tonight, our night off, Ava played with her neighbor, we made a pot holder and made homemade donuts together. It was a great night and makes us appreciate the time we have together.
Clearly, some kids have too much to do and not enough time to do it. And it’s hard to tell if it’s due to parents pushing or kids trying to keep up with their peers.
I was always told to keep my kids busy so they didn’t have a chance to get in trouble or to get wrapped up in the wrong crowd. One thing I do regret is that I didn’t leave enough free time for Ava for playing, exploring, and learning on her own. Nick, our first born had more play time as he was our first. Ava had to spend time at Nick’s practices.
Parents also often feel that their kids will miss out on key experiences if they aren’t doing what other kids are.
As parents we want what seems best for our kids. Even when intentions are good, though, kids can easily become over scheduled. It can be physically and emotionally exhausting for parents and kids alike, not to mention tough on a marriage if you’re not careful!
I’m all for keeping our kids busy in sports as it builds social skills and they are great opportunities for play and exercise. Sports can teach sportsmanship, self-discipline, and conflict resolution and can be just plain FUN! The key is to keep them that way and ensure that kids — and parents — aren’t overwhelmed.
Listen to your kids, watch them and see if they are too tired, complain of physical problems such as headaches or stomachaches, and watch their grades.
Only you and your family can determine what is best for your children. But I do ask that you listen to your children and let them have input. Let’s face it, we can’t force kids to do what they just don’t want to do. They’ve been given to us as a gift and it’s our job to do the best job we know how in raising them.
Meantime, most importantly… find down time for you and your family. Play games, watch a family movie, eat dinner together. Our children will remember these times just as much as they will making their first touchdown!