EVERY morning, this is what I hear from at least one, if not all 3, of my kids~ What are we doing today?
I feel like we live in a world where we are over scheduled and always rushing to get somewhere. I am guilty of it. But I do make an effort to put limits. I only allow my kids to do one activity. I do this for several reasons….I can’t be in 3 places at once, school comes first, and family time is extremely important to me. When the kids were younger the activities were usually 1x a week and lasted 30-45 min. But now that they are getting older and finding things they are passionate about, the amount of commitment is becoming greater. With the increase of commitment, family time is even more valuable to me. But how do you find the balance? How do you make your children value family time? I wish there was a clear answer. I think just finding what works for YOUR family is a wonderful place to start.
For our family, keeping extra-curricular activities to a limit is something I do and will not stray from. The girls make this easy (for now). They are finding their passion through dance. YES, dance takes up a huge chunk of our week but it works for us. Ella is able to be what I refer to my “drop and go”. I don’t have to stay at the studio for her. I simply pull up, she gets out and I have time for Hunter and Gracie to wind down, eat, and do homework. Then we go back to the studio and pick her up. We only have one day where we have to stay because Gracie is not at the “drop and go” stage. But we have it worked out beautifully where homework is completed and dinner is eaten all before Gracie is finished with her 2 classes and Ella begins her classes for the evening. I am very fortunate, too, that when classes run late, I have help from our close friends so I don’t have to drag Gracie and Hunter out past their bed time.
Hunter’s passion is football. Fortunately, football has 2 seasons in our area….fall and spring. Fortunately he plays for a low maintenance league where, for his age group, there is one practice a week and his games are on a Saturday morning. Fortunately, I have help here as well. I am going to relish in this for as long as I can. I see the time where his commitment will increase and then the real juggling begins. I only have a few more weeks until we go from 3 days a week to 4 days with activities.
My kids know,too, that they are to be present for each others’ activities to cheer them on. My girls go to all of Hunter’s football games with few complaints. Hunter spends most of an entire weekend watching his sisters dance with few complaints. There are exceptions and they have missed one or 2 games as well as a performance during recital weekend. But the point is I want them to respect each others’ passions and support them.
On our “down days”, I like to have very few plans, if any, scheduled. They are in organized activities most of the week~ school included. I want them to have the time to truly play. Get outside and play. I don’t mean with friends or anything I organize. I mean the 3 of them and our back yard just like it was when many of us grew up. I am extremely fortunate that my kids can just play and play with each other despite their age differences. I like for the 4 of us to have our time together. We usually have a movie night and now that Gracie is older, we can have game night. We have our Saturday night pizza night. And ideally, I try to keep Sundays empty and keep it like a “jammie day”.
I see family time becoming harder as they get older. But I know it is up to me to make sure it continues to be a priority. I know it won’t be always like this and our game nights may only happen once a month. I know pizza night may have to be shortened to, like at Disney, a quick service meal. I know that “jammie day” may only be for a few hours on a Sunday and may very well be in the evening. I know showing support for one another will become less frequent due to their schedules. But I know I will do all I can to keep family time a priority because just like in the song, that is played throughout my house, Do You Want to Build a Snowman” from the movie Frozen….”we only have each other”.