The 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!
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.