“We only have 18 summers with our children”
This is the mommy-shaming quote du jour this time of year, inciting you to cancel everything on your summer to-do list and sit around lazily soaking up one another's auras in a love-filled soup of intentionality.
At least until the next fight.
Guilt always drives us to a whole list of “shoulds” but, another familiar mom-quote I’ve heard is “Don’t should all over yourself.”
While guilt-induced parenting decisions aren’t likely to stick, there IS a fair amount of truth to the 18 summers comment. We don’t have a ton of time with our kiddos.
So, we have to look at our time as a budget, sort of like we do with our money. So, when it comes to activities, my husband and I ask ourselves a few questions before we commit…
- Does this interfere with family dinner? I’m not saying that we nix each and every activity that occurs during dinner time. But simply, be mindful of how many family dinners we are spending at the baseball fields. This has multiple costs…we likely will be eating on the go more often (financial and health costs) and will not be spending time together around the table (relational cost).
- What is this activity teaching my child? Or, what is the long-term benefit from this activity? For example, music lessons are something my child can benefit from for years to come. Sure, sports can teach teamwork. But I also want to think through what else they’re learning from this activity. If it’s an activity that requires more hours a week than a full-time job, there are going to be other (maybe not so healthy) lessons my kids are learning.
- How does this activity affect our family as a whole? Sure, our kids need to learn to make sacrifices for one another. But if my toddler NEVER gets enough sleep because of late night practices, it might be worth evaluating whether or not we should switch to a different team that maybe isn’t as time-consuming.
As always, I conclude with this: You do you. Your family is unique with different boundaries and amounts of margin. This take on activities is not prescriptive, but rather another approach. You are the parent and know what’s best for your family.
Are there any parameters you would include?
Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.