Friday, February 6, 2015

Crushing their dreams one activity at a time

This was originally posted on The Chicago Moms.

Our girls are nearing middle school, which means their extracurricular activities selection will explode. As if to get ready for this, they have been asking to research more and more local classes. Recently they spent a lot of time looking at different activities. It didn’t take long for them to come up with a list including:
  • Basketball class at the park district so they can join the Jr. high basketball team.
  • Dance and poms classes so they can join the Jr. high pep squad.
  • Lego robotics club at the library so they can be part of the Jr. high robotics club.
  • Drama class so they can be part of the Jr. high theater club.
Of course, this is in addition to all the things they already do. They don’t want to swap out activities. They just want to add and add and add. I realize that as their mom, it’s my job to help them find their passions in life. We want to support their interests, but lately all we’ve done is “crush their dreams” as one daughter keeps saying. It’s not that we don’t want them to try all the things. We’d love to be able to enroll them in every class that catches their eye. The reality is we, like most families, have limited resources. We have to decide how to use those resources wisely. Of course when we talk about resources, our girls immediately think about money, an important resource. Even if we had unlimited funds, we don’t have unlimited time.

Time is the resource we treasure as most precious. I see their classmates running from activity to activity after school. I’m exhausted listening to those schedules. We’ve worked hard to create white space on our calendars. We try not to schedule more than one thing after school very often. It doesn’t always work out, but we try. Sometimes a one-time activity collides with a regularly scheduled program. We aren’t ogres. We realize that sometimes you have your fun when it’s offered, especially when it comes to school events and friend parties.

When all else fails, we try not to overschedule our weekends. If one day is really busy, then we try to keep the other relatively unscheduled. We need that time to reset and recharge for the next week. We learned early on the well-rested twins make our house much happier. Even though our girls are older, that theory still applies. We find that too many activities and late nights make us all grumpy.

It’s hard to explain to 11-year-old girls why we schedule our family the way we do. They see time as an opportunity for them to try everything they can think of as soon as they think of it. We see time as a precious commodity that is racing on a track that will take the from Jr high to high school to college faster than we can handle. Somewhere in the middle is where we all meet with a schedule that gives them a chance to have fun, but also provides much-needed down time.

I do worry that one of our girls will miss finding her passion because we didn’t sign up for this lesson or that class. Of course, if it’s really her passion, she’ll be able to pursue it as an adult. Maybe our girls won’t end up in the WNBA, but they can always join a recreational basketball league as adults. At least, that’s what I tell myself as I “crush their dreams” one more time.

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