Adelie and Staley's World

Adelie and Staley's World

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Time to be a Kid

As my kids get older, I'm realizing that navigating what your kids are involved in gets trickier and trickier.  I wanted to avoid having too busy of a family life too early on, so we made a decision that our kids can be involved in one activity each season.  In theory, that's a great idea.  In reality, that's really hard.  I want my kids to be able to pick an activity that they are excited about, but I also want them to be exposed to different activities.  I want them to be able to follow through with something while also having opportunities to try new things.  I want to say "yes" to things they want to do.  I want them to have diverse experiences and try a wide-range of activities while still being able to stick with something long enough to build skills.  And when you want it all, life can get hectic.

Staley chose her Stage Kids acting class as her spring activity.  The same agency also offered a show choir group that meets for the 30 minutes before her acting class, so we let her sign up for both.  Then we found out the show choir group had the option of performing in a competition in St. Louis in April, which Staley also really wanted to do.  Of course, that involves extra practice time at home and week-end rehearsals.  Then Staley's school sent out information about swim lessons in Eureka.  It was relatively cheap and local (and we feel like that's a pretty vital skill), so we signed the girls up for that two nights/week for the month of March.  Then one of Staley's friends at school invited her to Awanas at a local church on Wednesday nights which she loved and now wants to go every week.  And just like that, our month of March has Staley with activities 4/5 nights during the week and 2 hour show choir practices on the week-end.  How did this happen? 

Staley likes all her activities.  Yes, she's been busy this month, but she's happy.  However, today was a good reminder to me of what she's been missing.  Staley had her show choir practice this morning, but then the rest of our day was free.  After lunch Staley and Adelie went into the play room to play Barbies together.  Four hours later they were still having the best time playing together when I told them to clean up for dinner.  And I thought about the fact that the girls just haven't had as much time to play together lately.  Staley's at school all day.  Evenings this month are full of activities.  And with dinner and baths and being in bed by 8, there is not much extra time for play. Week-ends can fill up quickly with family activities and church and homework and show choir rehearsals.  And just like that, the time to just play becomes less and less.

Our schedule will get less hectic soon.  Swimming lessons will end next week.  The show choir performance will be over in a few weeks.  Soon summer will be upon us with less activities and more free time.  I'm looking forward to that.  But this past month has made me worried.  Worried about what our life will be like when we have 3 kids in activities.  Worried about how I can let my kids pursue their passions while trying new things while maintaining responsibilities while still having the time to just be kids.  I see my friends and family with older kids and just how crazy their life becomes and I'll be honest.  I don't look forward to that.  Sure I want to watch my kids play sports or act in plays or master a musical instrument.  Of course I want them to be involved in activities where they make friends and build confidence.  But I don't want that meet-yourself-coming-and-going schedule.  Currently on days when we don't have activities, I love how we just play at the school playground for an hour after school before going home.  How we do family game night or family walks after dinner.  How we have time to snuggle and read together every night before bed.  How family meals are always eaten together.  How we can enjoy lazy week-ends where we just play all day and never leave the house.  I don't look forward to the time when those days are the exception and not the norm.

Luckily April will bring us mostly back to our normal, less busy schedule.  Although March was a bit of a wake-up call for me, I know I have some time to try to figure this all out, or at least to prepare myself for the craziness that is to come.  For now, I'll focus on enjoying our week of Spring Break with lots of time for family fun, and I'll be thankful for the four hours of Barbie play time already under our belts.

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