Josiah, at the ripe age of 5 years old, has hit the stage where there are tons of opportunities to get involved in.
When Josiah was 3 and we lived in a different city (about 15 minutes from where we are now) and he was in gymnastics. He loved it, but when we moved into our new house, gymnastics was an hour drive away and there was nothing closer so we dropped out. That was part of it. The other part of it was that I wasn’t ready to commit to paying $xx a month for something that I had to take him to at a certain time of day every week. It sounds silly, but I just wasn’t ready for that type of commitment.
This past spring, Josiah started soccer. He loves it and it’s not that expensive. He’s playing fall soccer right now and he’ll play soccer this next spring. But that’s not all. We almost signed Josiah up for Trail Life USA (Baptist version of boy scouts). This would be taking place every Thursday evening. So we would be at church two days a week, at soccer practice one day a week, have a soccer game one day a week, and then have Trail Life USA one day a week. That is something to do 5 out of 7 days in a week. I know that soccer only lasts a few weeks, but that would be an exhausting few weeks. For now, we put off Trail Life USA because it would be difficult for Josiah to do it with Jimmi in school and me working evenings.
Basketball season is getting ready to start. This Saturday (after the soccer game) there is a basketball clinic at our church for Josiah’s age group. Over the next two weeks they will be doing evaluations. Soccer is finished on October 25 and basketball practice starts November 17. Basketball games start in January and end the last week of February. Soccer starts up again the first week of March and doesn’t end until the end of April.
Guess what? Josiah wants to play baseball too. Baseball season starts not long after soccer is through and doesn’t finish up until not long before soccer starts up again in the fall (I don’t know the length of the season because I don’t follow baseball).
At this point, if we allowed it, Josiah would basically be playing sports year around. We’ve already said a big NO to hockey because of the outrageous cost to sign up and the fact that it is during fall soccer season. Being a boy (no that’s not a sexist comment), he will also have the option to play football in a few years, but Josiah hasn’t shown much interest in that yet.
Recently though Josiah asked me about gymnastics classes again. So I have to pause and process…Josiah wants to play soccer (both seasons), basketball, baseball AND participate in Trail Life USA and gymnastics. BUT WAIT — there’s more. Josiah wants to take martial arts.
When am I supposed to find enough days in the week to do all of this?
The answer is simple — I’m not.
I want Josiah to explore his interests and expand his talents, but I won’t do it at the expense of everyday life. I have a problem with catering my entire week to shuffling my kids to different activities simply because they can’t choose. Some parents don’t have a problem with allowing their kids to spend 4 or more days a week running around to different events. It’s not realistic, especially if there is more than one child in the house. What is going to happen when Samuel or any other child we have gets older and gets involved in activities? Then I will be spending that much more time running around and that much more money. Soccer isn’t too expensive, but some of these activities can slowly rack up money that many one-income families and even two-income families can’t afford.
As a homeschool family it would be easy for me to fall into the trap of filling Josiah’s spare time with activities. After all, Josiah’s schooling only takes an hour or two and we only do it a few days a week. Did I mention that Josiah is in the children’s choir at church and I’m pretty sure he’ll eventually want to take drum lessons?
All of these activities I mentioned are good things, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. There is no way that our family can keep up with several activities per child without getting burned out and going broke. There are several Christian psychologists and child experts that say running kids ragged with multiple activities isn’t healthy. They say that children get to where they can’t be content just being at home with family. They get to where they feel that they must always be on the go. They want to be with friends and a ball — not family. Kids start to believe that their activities are the center of the family’s attention. I’ve seen this happen.
I don’t want to be that mom. I don’t want to be the woman who is exhausted on Sunday because it’s the only day that I have a few minutes to sit down. I don’t want to be the mom that has to choose between one kid’s soccer game and another kid’s gym meet. I don’t want to be the mom whose life has become all about being on the go.
Time is valuable. People are valuable. If we start focusing on sporting events and other activities we start to lose contact with people in our lives because we are so busy we only have a small amount of time for people. I want my kids to know that people are more important than sports and other events. Sports and things like it are extracurricular activities — not the center of our life.
I’ve never wanted to be that mom and honestly never thought I’d have to work on not being that mom. We all have to work to keep business out of our life. We have to teach our kids the same thing.
This year we are allowing Josiah to do soccer, basketball, and baseball only so he can decide which one he likes best. He will have to decide what he wants to do after this year. He gets two seasonal activities and one year around activity and that’s it. He can’t do three sports a year and take drum lessons and do Trail Life USA. That is just too much for a 5-year-old. That’s too much for me. We all complain about being busy, so why add more than we need to our already busy lives?