The Activity Dilemma

by Sami

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Only a few short months ago I was struggling to come up with a summer schedule that would optimize fun while still continue the learning process for my kids.

Now we’re already back in school and instead of worrying about how to keep them occupied at home, I’m wondering how to keep them at home!

It’s true, not only do I have two kids in school full time now, but for the first time this year, we found activities for them both to participate in.

Sure, they’ve dabbled in community center programs and Upward leagues, but until now, we’ve never been able to afford the money or time commitment associated with putting our kids in some sort of organized sport or activity.

After our 6-year-old son started climbing our door frames this past May, his Kindergarten teacher (who is married to a gymnastics coach!) suggested I should look into putting him into gymnastics. We did a trial class for both kids and they were hooked!

Since my daughter liked it so much too, we found a class at the same time as my son’s. Life was good. My husband and I thought to ourselves, “Perfect. One hour a week. No weekly games. This is ideal!”

Little did we know that after just one class, our perfect plan would change. The coach told me they’d like to put my son on a developmental team that meets two days a week. Still new to this whole thing, I naively asked, “Is this what every new student does?” He smirked and replied,

“No. We see something special in him.”

Normally I’d be thrilled to hear such accolades about my own offspring. But of course, still being in mom-taxi mode, all I could think of was, “Now we’ll have to be here two days a week. And what if he keeps getting better? Then what? And how much will that cost? …and when are the next Olympics…?”

Does anyone else go down rabbit holes in their brain like that?

So for two days a week, the kids go to school, get changed in the bathroom after school, head to the gym, and THEN head home. By that time it’s close to 6 pm (hopefully, I’ve put something in the crockpot so we’re not waiting another hour to eat). Factor in homework, a little playtime and getting ready for bed…and that’s our day! Now keep in mind, we’re talking a first and third grader with very minimal homework and (at least at this time) non-competitive sports practice. I can’t imagine what this could look like in three or four years!

To be completely honest, I have mixed feelings about the activity dilemma. As a child, I was VERY involved in sports & activities…to the point where I don’t remember eating very many meals with my mom at the dinner table. She was typically shuttling me back and forth between tennis or swim practice and show choir or dance rehearsal with a tupperware container for me to eat in the backseat. On a recent road trip, we stopped at my aunt’s house and even found all my own trophies, much to the delight of my young son:

My husband, however, had a more subdued childhood when it came to extra-curricular activities, but actively remembers playing outside with cousins and friends and the like. Of course he can also recite verbatim almost every meal his mom cooked too 😉

So where is the happy medium? I’m learning I have to stop getting ahead of myself.  I don’t know whether my child is going to be the next Olympic gymnast or Poet Laureate. Perhaps they’ll shy away from every activity I put them in and pursue the path of being a missionary?

Through it all, I’m learning two things:
1. It’s not about me
2. Nothing is guaranteed

While this might strike fear in the minds of some parents, for me, it reminds me of God’s sovereignty and grace in each and every moment.  And don’t think our kids don’t feel the pressure to perform and, more often than not, conform. Yes, even early elementary kids are bombarded daily with what they should wear and what the ‘cool kids’ are saying.

That’s why I love Max Lucado’s “Grace for the Moment: 365 Devotions for Kids“. It reminds my kids that grace is God’s best idea: More than we deserve … and greater than we imagine.  More importantly, it reminds me to apply the same principles to my own life and Christian walk as I read it with them!

So if you’re like me and trying to fit this coming year and all the activities that go along with it into one pretty little package, give yourself some grace. Enjoy the moment. More importantly, enjoy the time your family has been given to spend together…TODAY.

More importantly, it reminds me to apply the same principles to my own life and Christian walk as I read it with them!

Do you struggle with deciding what and how many activities your kids should be participating in? How do you make those decisions in your family?

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