There are a lot of people who claim not to try to keep up with the Joneses. I see one area that screams "Liar!" to almost everyone. Parents, go look at your calendar. Girls Scouts, soccer practice, karate class, ballet, chess tournaments, swimming lessons, basketball, Cub Scouts, music lessons, drama practice, field trips, AWANA, bible quizzing, spelling bees, and by the way "Mom, I'm supposed to bring 400 cupcakes to school tomorrow."
So, maybe your brand of busy looks different than the Joneses, but we somehow feel like limiting our children's activities will leave them ill-equipped for real life. We're concerned that we will be criticized for not letting our kids partake of an array of activities. After all, where else will they learn such valuable lessons found in said activities?
Common reasons for enrolling kids in sports: Exercise, discipline, respect, and learning to be a team player. Don't we want those qualities applied, not just to soccer, but also to our family? Why should they learn those attributes from a coach? Why not enroll your child in a sport because they are disciplined, respectful and have learned to be a team player within their family? His/her coach will thank you, and you can rest in the knowledge that your child is receiving reinforcement training in what you have already begun (while staying fit). The only way we can achieve this is if we are investing serious quality time in training our children, versus saying a prayer and crossing our fingers.
When hard times come who will our children fall back on? Their ballet instructor, sensei, football coach? It should be us, which means we need to invest more time in our family now and worry less about whether Sally learns what it means to be a team player from someone who barely knows her.
OK, before you revolt and tell me I'm suggesting kids don't do anything. Ever. Allow me to say that there is nothing wrong with signing your kids up for something. I personally shudder at the thought of signing my kids up for more than one thing. Our oldest takes piano lessons. That's it. Are there other activities she eyeballs? Yes. After she fulfills a year long commitment to her piano instructor, if there is something else she would rather do, we'll see what can be done. So far, nothing else catches her eye more than the ivory keys, so piano it is! This accomplishes a couple of things: First, my daughter is still involved in an extra-curricular activity. Second, it allows her to focus on piano and see if she really likes it. If a buffet of activities is always in front of a child, they are never going to be able to hone their skills in anything that's on their plate.
Would it be hard to go cold turkey? Umm. Yes. Whittle it down slowly. Compromise with your kids. It's not about a specific number of activities. It's about what it takes for your family to be a team before any one family member is part of another team.
The Joneses can't beat that.
Listening To Some Rockin' Piano Playing,