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Embracing the Slow: Choosing Less for my Kids

embracing the slow | Des Moines Moms BlogThe possibilities are endless when it comes to extra activities for kids. From sports to gymnastics and dance to Lego Club and Girl/Boy Scouts, the list goes on and on. Some of these activities start for kids as young as 3!

You may be surprised then, when I tell you my kids are in zero sports right now. Currently, we only have piano lessons and swim lessons to look forward to in June. We wrapped up faith formation classes in April and have no plans of adding anything else this summer.

Sometimes, it feels like our family is the only one who has decided to slow down and take a different approach to activities. Sometimes, too, the guilt kicks in and the feelings of being left out, or like we aren’t doing enough to provide enriching activities for our kids can be overwhelming.

I start to feel as though we should put the girls in more activities or sports and that they may be somehow missing out on important life skills. 

It feels odd to not rattle off a ton of activities or say how busy we are when asked. I remember reading a post about the disease of being busy, and this quote really spoke to me,

“How did we create a world in which we have more and more and more to do with less time for leisure, less time for reflection, less time for community, less time to just… be?”

After reading this, I decided that “just being” is what I want for me, my family, and my kids. 

And honestly? I am loving the activity-free life right now. Because you know what? I can’t say that will be the same in 2 or 5 years.

There will be a time, I’m most certain, where dinners together may be few and far between, and when my kid’s ideas of fun don’t include me or my husband. My kids have both done a stint with gymnastics. My oldest tried dance and soccer. But for the past 2 years? Nothing. (With the exception of swim lessons and church activities). At first, it was accidental. We took a summer off and that break became indefinite.

Now, choosing slow is intentional.

If the kids about an activity, my husband and I will talk about it and how it will either add or take away from our family. I can’t tell you how many things we have turned down because it would take away another night at home. If we do decide to move forward with an activity, it is not without careful consideration. We also calculate what may need to be taken out of our schedule if that activity is more of a priority. 

Right now, I am relishing the fact we are not run by our schedule or the activities we participate in. I don’t have to transport kids here and there. We don’t have to eat on-the-go or standing up.

After working 8 hours a day, I love the time we have after school and after work to eat dinner together and play a game or go on a walk. I love the fact our weekends are spent doing family activities or just being lazy on the couch early Saturday morning, watching cartoons together rather than being on a soccer field.

Of course, if my kids express interest in an activity, we will do what we can to foster that interest. For example, Sophia wanted to take piano lessons, so we figured out where to go and signed her up. She currently has piano lessons every Saturday morning. But it’s only a half hour, and we are able to pick the schedule and frequency. Again, we carefully considered this activity before adding it into our schedule.

We also have an unofficial rule of one activity per kid in our house, at one time. Having this unwritten rule helps our entire family keep our sanity. Between long school and work days, and the few set activities we do have, I can’t imagine shuffling everyone to an activity each night. Just the thought of it sends me into a state of frenzy! 

embracing slow | Des Moines Moms Blog

Learning to play the piano has already taught Sophia invaluable lessons of working hard, persevering, and time management!

Activities and organized sports provide wonderful opportunities and lifelong lessons for kids. And I will embrace that season of life with open arms (Ok, a little begrudgingly) when it comes. But right now, I’m embracing this slow season we’re in. And if my kids don’t want to do certain activities or sports, I’m also ok with that!

I want to be able to remember that it’s ok to not be in everything. It’s ok to not have every hour of our schedule filled with an activity or “to do.” I want my kids to learn that simple is ok and we aren’t defined by how busy we are or what activities we are in. 

I’d love to hear other mom’s insight into this! Are your kids in a lot of activities? Why or why not? Please share!

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15 Responses to Embracing the Slow: Choosing Less for my Kids

  1. alina June 21, 2017 at 4:23 pm #

    I love the idea of slowing down. Great tips for when my little one is a little older!

  2. Naya @ Lactivist in Louboutins June 21, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

    We are having a slow season this summer as well. My oldest is scheduled for a couple of week-long camps, but otherwise nothing. We can go to the pool, have a movie day if it’s too hot, or do whatever we want 🙂

  3. Meg June 21, 2017 at 8:55 pm #

    I only have one son doing extra activities right now (other son is still young), but I have thought a lot about NOT overscheduling our family. My husband and I talked about having him do soccer and baseball in the fall, but eventually we decided to only do ONE sport because he will also be starting kindergarten and we’re having a new baby. I think we need to guard our family time carefully and make time for free play/family time.

    • Shay June 23, 2017 at 3:03 pm #

      It’s definitely a conversation worth having! It sounds like you and your husband have thought about it a lot! Good luck with all your upcoming adventures! A new baby and Kindergarten! Exciting times!

  4. Amelia Furman June 22, 2017 at 12:03 am #

    I totally agree that wanting to have a slower pace of life must be an intentional choice. Good for you for seeing that less is more. I’m getting there too. I love the idea of one activity per kid. Good rule to live by! Thanks for the reminder to slow down!

    • Shay June 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

      Thanks, Amelia! Yes, it has to be intentional which can be difficult sometimes!

  5. Clair June 22, 2017 at 12:43 am #

    Love this! I just try and find a balance between leisure time and scheduled activities 🙂 We are taking a break from swim team over the summer and picking up an art camp instead 😊

    • Shay June 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

      That sounds like an awesome swap! Taking breaks can be so nice!

  6. Krysten June 22, 2017 at 4:36 am #

    I need to think like this with my son. I always think that I have to do so much with him that both of us are so worn out by the end of the day and not in a good way. I need to embrace the slow life.

  7. Vanessa @ {nifty thrifty things} June 22, 2017 at 7:11 am #

    My daughter is still small (1 1/2 years), but I really think I will take it slow. It’s so important to have downtime and teach kids to take it slow at times. They don’t need to have every minute of the day planned out and need time to use their imagination. 🙂

  8. Brittany McGee June 22, 2017 at 1:52 pm #

    I need to always slow it down…I feel like I run at 100 mph and end up burning out! this is a great reminder

  9. Megan June 22, 2017 at 7:43 pm #

    I love, love, love the idea of slowing down. I need to focus on that more often. Great post!

  10. Ashley June 22, 2017 at 9:48 pm #

    I completely agree that it is so important to slow down and just enjoy being together. It is so important for us to have dinners as a family. I find that everyone feels that there kids need to be in every activity starting so young! I am okay with doing one activity at a time and still being able to enjoy dinners and time together as a family!

  11. Megan June 23, 2017 at 3:23 am #

    This is such an important concept and something I don’t do often enough. I totally agree. I need to slow down and it always gets pushed to the back burner. Great post!

  12. Meg November 2, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

    You are not the only one! There are at least two of us. 😉 Sometimes we feel like the laziest people we know, but we like movies, and board games, and snuggling on weekends, and dinner together on weeknights. Our two kiddos als have piano and 1-2 other activities and that’s enough. 🙂

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