Saturday, March 08, 2014

For Families that Want to be Less Busy

Lisa Eversole of Redmond, Washington, was a stay-at-home mom. So you might think life at her house was pretty laid back. “Guess again,” Lisa says. “There were so many worthwhile activities I’d convinced myself Austin, Joshua, Nathan, and Emma just had to do that we were never home. 
I was always yelling at the kids to hurry up and get in the van. I stayed so busy dashing here and there with them that my husband Adam and I had no time for each other. My stress level was through the roof. I went to bed most nights feeling guilty for yelling at everyone. 
“When Emma started talking, her first words after ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ were ‘Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!’ That’s when I started to realize what I was doing. By then we had so many activities scheduled into our days that I wasn’t sure it was possible to slow down.  
“I decided the thing to do was begin ‘scheduling in’ some family time. Instead of paying for swimming lessons, I planned a weekly family swim time. Instead of signing the boys up for baseball, Adam and I started taking them to a local park with a soccer field and basketball court so we could play ball together as a family.  
“At first I had moments of panic. I worried the kids would miss that time with their peers and coaches. Then a funny thing happened. Our older kids started taking the younger ones in hand and teaching them how to shoot a basket or swim a certain stroke. We saw their relationships really blossom in a way they didn’t have time to before. Since we now had time for family devotions, we watched them grow closer to God as well. And Adam and I had a chance to remember why we’d fallen in love.”   from intouch magazine May 2008 pg. 22 "Simplify: Families who want Less" by Mimi Knight
I read the full article, Simplify: Families Who Want Less, back in October 2008. I was inspired to not feel obligated to put my kids in "a million" sports or activities. At that time, I would have had a 3-and-a-half-year-old, an almost two-year-old, and a very newborn baby. I wonder why I was even thinking of that then?? 

A few months later, just before my oldest turned 4-years-old, the activities began. Up until then, we had done swim lessons and Toddler Gym, but now she began ballet. It was so adorable, and we were certain she was gifted at this graceful dance. 

But I hated driving 3 kids to her classes, I hated waiting around for an hour or driving back home for 40 minutes before her class was over. I was overwhelmed with having a new baby and a toddler and a Preschooler. Once in awhile it worked out for me to bring her alone to class, but I remember having many anxious moments about being there, having "loud" kids disturbing the class, or just not wanting to do it at all.

For our family, we continued on the next 5 years with fairly minimal activities. Ballet continued for maybe two more years, our son took some Karate classes (one month), and Brazilian Juijitsu (ten classes), and our younger daughter took some preschool dance classes. I always found that after beginning an activity for the kids, I would get sick of driving them around and would wish it were over just after it began. I mostly just wanted to be home. I didn't want to rush through dinner, or skip dinner for drive-thru, and have several tag-alongs for every individual activity.

This article was planted in my brain when I had just embarked on the journey of having 3 kids, and now we have 4. I like the way this woman thinks. I wonder if she continued on for the next 5 years at the same slow, family-centred pace?

What I really noticed about this article's relevance in my life now, was the sibling relationships. Its so true! When we have to drive kids here and there and are rushed, they spend most of their time together in the back of the van...not always a pleasant experience. To have free play and time to just be around one another, or to go off into another room or corner of the yard alone, is so good and healthy for them. 

I hope to move forward in our lives with this concept of family time to learn and play activities firmly established. And of course, there are school sports, music, and activities that are much easier to participate in because they are already there!

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