“Today’s parents and caregivers across all generations over-schedule their lives in an effort to be responsive to their kids but end up exhausted and struggling to “be present” as a result.” – Julie Morgenstern, Time To Parent
For those of you who do not know, my husband and I have three children in 33 months, 7, 5, and 4 years of age. We live very busy chaotic lives. Truth be told, a good 70% of the time, someone in our house is crying. (By the way, it’s not always the children.) Let’s be honest, this is before any activities are added into our lives.
I have always been a believer of few activities per child. I recommend to my clients on a regular basis to pair down on child activities. I have witnessed too many times how family lives are impacted moving from one activity to another. This chaotic lifestyle will have direct and indirect change on our relationships with our partners, children, ourselves, and our homes. I have never wanted to “live” in the car, or eat dinner “on the run” multiple times a week. Confessions of a professional organizer…I stopped following my own advice. By the beginning of this school year, two of my three children were enrolled in 3 activities each!! How did this happen?!?
Truth be told, I believe we got wrapped up in the hype, “oh, but this activity is critical! Critical/important to whom?!? Because…
- “the books” said to?
- our friends, or our children’s friends are doing said activity?
- our child desires said activity?
We were constantly on the move! In most cases, some activities meet twice each week! The activities, meant to broaden (fill-in-the-blank) for said child, simply became a “check off the box,” “move on to the next thing.” Don’t get me wrong, our children enjoyed the activities once the activities began. BUT, the going to and from said various activities became stressful, overwhelming, which led to poor behavior by ALL…yes, I am calling myself out, being completely honest, more than anyone else, my behavior was most strongly affected.
In November, our family went to Hawaii. Nothing over the top, mornings on the beach, afternoons at the pool and plenty of pineapple for all. While on this vacation, I noticed immediately, my children were simply…JOYFUL. Most days, an electronic device was never turned on. The smiles were endless, the worries were absent. The days were not packed with events. Everyone, and I mean everyone, seemed care free, happy, and less-stressed. Why was it so noticeable? What was so different? I soon realized, in our everyday lives, we were doing TOO MUCH. The ironic part…by our own choice!! Then and there, I said STOP! My husband and I agreed to remove one activity per child. (Insert audible gasp here.) Don’t get me wrong, determining which activity was cut was not easy. It seemed there were 10 reasons to keep each activity versus eliminate it. BUT, finding a sense of “calm” was necessary. So, we begrudgingly, worriedly, cut.
So Christmas break came and went. School is back in session, and we are one less activity per child. Let me tell you, BEST DECISION EVER!! Now, halfway through January, “back to the grind” of school schedules and activities, my husband and I believe the change in our family life is drastically…BEAUTIFUL! Meals are enjoyed, homework is not rushed, one-on-one time has increased to all, by all. There are more smiles, more time, and more laughter. What a difference one less activity has made on the quality of OUR LIVES.
My challenge to you…
- Look at your schedules.
- Discuss, with your partner, your priorities as a team
- Eliminate clutter in regards to you and your family’s time
“In order to say YES to your priorities, you have to be willing to say NO to something else.” – Unknown