We have a calendar that hangs on our kitchen wall, and as a type-A, extroverted personality – I pride myself on a full and overflowing schedule. Or at least I did, until I realized how unhealthy that can be for my family. I took a step back from the calendar overload and spent some time focusing on my family in a better way. As a mom of four, there’s not much that can just easily go away from the to-do list, but I have found a way to give myself grace in this busy season of life with a lot of kids.
The world is telling us that we need to have our kids in every activity under the sun to raise a well-rounded human being. We have options for art classes, music, dance, sports, and the list goes on and on. A few years back, I had three kids under the age of three and I felt the pressure to put my oldest in an activity. I was watching all the moms around me do activities and I thought that was what I was supposed to do. I didn’t take the time to stop and consider if it was the best option for OUR family in that season. After about six months of dragging my three tiny children to a gym halfway across town, my daughter told me she didn’t even want to do gymnastics. I had never asked her what SHE wanted to do. I just did what I felt was going to make me look like the best mom (because she looked darling in her little leotard in my Instagram pictures!)
I learned an important lesson in that season that has changed our family dynamic and the way I parent. Maybe you’re in a season like I was, or maybe you’re in a place that you’re ready to jump into activities.
A few things to think about if your kids’ activities are driving you crazy or if you are trying to establish a schedule that works for your family:
1. Are you doing it for you or for your child? Is this activity choice one that you made as a family and something your child truly wants to be a part of? Do they enjoy and thrive in this activity or is it simply something that makes you feel like a better parent by checking one more thing off of a list?
2. Is this choice healthy for your family? Do you feel stressed by the weight of activities? Does your home feel like a place of peace (well, as peaceful as it can feel with children!) and your calendar feel nicely balanced?
3. Are you finding space for real family time? Family time should be more than a kiss on the forehead on the way out the door to the bus or a quick dinner before homework. Family time is most important in growing your children into well-rounded human beings and they will learn far more in a healthy family setting than they ever will at dance lessons or swim team.
I want to encourage you to take a look at your family schedule. Does it make you feel joy and freedom or stressed and overwhelmed? Find freedom to erase some things on the schedule that don’t bring joy to you and your kids. If you need a season to be free from activities and focus on your kids, take one! We are currently an activity-free family as we navigate our season of life, and it’s the healthiest choice for us right now. In a few months that may change, but we will take it day by day and check our family health before diving in. If it’s time to dive into activities, find something your kids will love and go all in! Find freedom in your choices, make the best decision for your family and have fun!