In Which I Confess I am Actually Not Mary Poppins

Yesterday I mentioned we were making some changes in our home. (Thank you for your encouraging comments!)

Now, before you get the impression that our lives are a Disney Movie, in which I've reprised the role of Mary Poppins and my delightful children are Pollyanna, you must know that change is never easy. 

On hearing that our TV was being turned off more than on, my six year old son, wept. 


And my oldest child kept asking for the date and time of the turnoff, so she could get in as much cable TV as possible.

Oh, yes, you could say we are human.

For months now, I've been feeling stressed about our schedule and the demands on our time. I usually spend hours every week dropping my kids off at various extra curricular activities after school. We eat a rushed dinner and hurry off to bath and bed.

Now, I know the car shuffling is a normal mom activity, but seriously, my kids are 8, 6, and 1. Do they need to master every sport, right now? Won't there be plenty of time for those things when they are in junior high and high school? I've heard in our town, just to make a team sport in public school, you have to be an expert by the time you're seven.  

Maybe it's time to move.

The plethora of activities offered on a sliver platter to my kids boggles my mind. Am I a bad mom because I don't have my daughter in tumbling lessons so she'll have a shot at being a high school cheerleader or because I don't have my 21 month old daughter in Spanish class?  

I mean, sure, we'd love for our six year old son to receive his Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, but he's on pace to do that when he's 8.  Why the rush?

And so, we decided to put everything on hold, except for monthly Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings, where we participate with our kids.

Do you know how my kids reacted?


[Please note that this was a personal, family decision and I know it's not for everyone. We'll still do summer YMCA sports and we aren't being fanatical, just deliberate during this season.] I know my kid's will develop individual passions, but it's hard to hone in on that when there's so much noise.

We've decided to be intentional with our new found time. My kids have been so excited about our One Day to Give plan, that they jumped at the chance to plan monthly giving projects. We've freed up money normally used on activities to fund our One Day to Give ideas.

Our calendar is sprinkled with family craft nights, we made this at our last one.  

And my son is itching to try this.

On weekly Family Nights, we watch old home movies or play games. We've also planned date nights for me and THAT man of mine. They are a high priority.  Date nights with our kids is a new addition to the calendar.   

And I'll be sharing about What's Your Beef Night tomorrow; it's a new hit in our home.

So, I know there's a lot of differing opinions on the over-scheduling of kids.  What's yours?

I feel like I've been in a fog and indecisive in the past regarding the busyness of our lives. But for the first time in a long while, I'm actually thinking clearly. 

And I'm sorry about the Mary Poppins thing.


Carolina Mama said...

Congratulations! You will all l.o.v.e it!

Auds at Barking Mad said...

You are such an inspiration. Yes, that's right, this is coming from the woman whose posts are peppered with the F-word and tons of self-depricating humour, but just the same, I think you're pretty darned awesome and this post makes me want to be a better mom.

Oh and can I just say that I CAN NOT STAND the over-scheduling of our children. No wonder so many kids grow up to be latte-willing, mountain dew pounding, million mile adults who have heart attacks by the time they are 35! I'm just not gonna let that happen with the Little Imp and I am so glad to see there is another strong mama out here taking back her kiddos lives, and childhoods, as well!

BTW, I'm really trying to cut down on the swearing...promise! And today's post is filled with so much sweetness you'll get a toothache!

PastorMac's Ann said...

Bravo to you for parenting with intention. We could all stand to follow your good example. Thanks for the encouragement!

Jennifer said...

You are such a great mom! It sounds like you are doing what is best for your family. I love your ideas for your family nights and especially your "One Day To Give" idea. I hope to be half as good of a mom as you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
P.S. He loves you... said...

I concur ;D

Jocelyn said...

My husband and his EX, were obsessive over schedulers, I think it was a race to see who was the better parent.
Poor kid never even had time to take a nap and eat a snack between activities. Kudos to you to realize kids need down time, rest and quiet to make their bodies and mind grow.I am also a firm believer in Family Movie night no matter how old, mine are 18, 17, 16 and they know get your blanket and your popcorn and sit down for 2 hours with Mom!
Have fun spending some quiet creative time with the kiddos!

Anonymous said...

I hear the first step is the hardest. It seems as though you have taken the first step and survived. I feel the Lord has been calling my family to the same thing. Thanks for being an inspiration! I posted about slowing down as well...sometimes it's not by choice. Sometimes God gives us a little trip to the E.R. to get us to slow down. UGGHH!

MamaMay said...

I agree with the over booking of children's schedules. really can't kids just be... kids?

I am glad you guys are getting rid of the TV, just make sure that your kids don't discover that they can watch TV online...

Anonymous said...

The first and last time I was ever Mary Poppins was in our 4th grade musical. So. I applaud your decisions and hope to implement some of them with my family as well. That's the beauty of it - we all have to do what works for our own families (although I can't see where crazy overscheduling Actually works for anyone). Hats off to you not only for Leading your family, not Following trends, and for being honest enough to share the journey.

Blessings, Whitney

Bubba's Sis said...

I think a lot of kids would have the same reaction yours did if their parents took them out of all the extra-curricular stuff: RELIEF! Good for you for taking back your life!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more.
Children should be allowed to be children and not prize trophies for the next event they can win gold at !I can not stand the over zealous parents that spend their life racing the children from one outside school curricular activity to the next. Not only will mum and or dad die younger from all that extra stress, but the kids will never learn how to be kids and relax.
School has more than enough activity to keep children active
It will be my families destiny as well, to pace it out through their little lives.

Monica said...

What a wise decision you've made for this time in your life! It's so good to take a step away from all the noise.

Prairie Chick said...

I think you rock. So glad I started reading here again as you are such a breath of fresh air and encouragement to me! I totally agree with EVERYTHING you said. Kudos to you guys for waking from the cultural stupor and reclaiming your life. Richest blessings on your family as you enjoy activities together at your own pace.

Lori said...

Good for you! :)

Beachy Mimi said...

Good for you!

Karen said...

As the mother of three grown children, and grandmother of 4, I think there is entirely too much pressure on children to perform these days. They don't need soccer, football, softball, baseball, tap, ballet, piano, or voice lessons. What they do need is quality time spent with parents who love them, who teach them right from wrong, and who teach them how to behave in public.

Then need time to use their imaginations, to read, to climb a tree, to make mud pies, and to play stick ball in the backyard with their dad.

Ok, so does that get the message across? I think you are doing the right thing.

The activities my kids remember most from their childhood? We had a firepit in the backyard. The "rules" for having a fire were posted at the back of the house. Any kid in the neighborhood could come, as long as they followed the rules. They talked, told stories, sang songs, laughed, made smores, whatever. We also read aloud to each other as a family. A different family member chose the book each week. And we played scrabble from the time they could make words.

Tree Climbing Mom said...

Your kids' relieved reaction says it all. Sometimes I feel like I must be the laziest mother in the world because my 6 year old has yet to play an organized sport and my 4 year old has never seen the inside of a dance studio. They DO know that it's fun to dig in the dirt, trees are made for climbing and bugs make great entertainment. They have all the time in the world to carry around day planners, right now I just want them to be kids!

laytonfamily said...

you'll never regret this - it's their childhood, it happens once! Who wants to miss out on that? Letting some coach experience it all the time? And end up molding your children too.

you are doing the right thing!

I have a family member who has the kids in after school care, a sport after that. She picks them up - rushes them home for dinner and puts them to bed. So she gets about an hour maybe 2 in with them, and it's not quality - just proximity. Those kids will have no memories of spending fun time with their mom and dad!

Traci said...

When I taught elementary school, I had a favorite lesson that I LOVED to teach. This lesson would take two days MAX....by the time I taught 10 years, the lesson had turned into 2 weeks!! I really hadn't changed very much....what changed were the kids attention span.

I found that I had to be more of an actress and magician to get them to respond to NORMAL work....it was terrible.

I believe this is because of the micro-managing of our children. They have NO CLUE what to do for themselves since their time is NOT THEIR TIME....it is someone else's time.

I believe parents try to re-live their childhood through their children...they want "better" than what they had growing up.

usafcole said...

My kids are grown (one is out of the house with her "own" family and the other child moved back home because of a serious medical issue) and we still have family night. Every Friday my family gathers and we have dinner together and then have some kind of activity--even if it is just talking and catching up on the week. The grandkids love to come to Mamaw and Poppy's home.

We want for generations to come to know that they are loved and have a family that supports them through the good and the rough times. One of those rough times is right now and we are making through my son's serious illness because of the love and support of friends and family.

You are making great decisions that will last a lifetime.

Jeanette said...

I know exactly what you mean. As a mom of two teenagers. I am kept hoping from one activity to the next. One is in high school the other in middle school. That means that they are in two different sports at the same time. Tonight we have a volleyball game and a basketball game at two different ends of the world. I have not been home one whole day since May. I am tired! The light at the end of the tunnel? The high schooler will be done with volleyball at the end of October and will not do another sport until spring!

Go for it now - it only gets worse when they get older and committ to different sports.


Bahama Shores Mama said...

This is our second year scaling back on our scheduled activities. I let each of my older children choose one sport for fall and one for spring. This is hardest on My Man as he is a college coach and thinks my boys are being left behind with the practice of fundamentals that others are getting. But, he doesn't do the running around for four kids; I do. I actually wanted one sport a school year but, I compramised. My daughter does dance and it's year round so that counts as her two sports. The baby doesn't do anything except the free storytime at the library right now. The boys get so excited planning which two sports they will be choosing this year. It does change a few times during the planning stages, though! All in all, I love it!!!!

I think you are right on track!!

*sorry for all the !!!; not sure where they came from today :)

Sarah said...

My 2 oldest are 7 & 6 ( I also have a 3 1/2 & a 6 mo.). I told them we can try all of the sports that they want to try, this year. Then next year they get to choose 1 or 2 things that they REALLY want to do. We will be doing cub scouts and 4-H all through this time, and I don't want to be sport mom of the year. So next year, we cut back. Our baseball league (this summer was our first time in our area league) was horribly competative. There was even a game where, a coach and a parent got kicked out. My son was NOT having fun, he was a perminate "alternate" because he just wanted to have fun, while they just wanted to win! But we have joined a soccer league this fall that plays everyone equally, they don't keep score, and everyone cheers for everyone. I love it. THAT is how children's sports should be. Kids have too many stresses these days, without having to be a sports MVP. Let the kids be kids, and don't push them to be master to all games! You have made a great choice for your kids. It's another priorities deal, what are your priorities in life, being the best at sports (ALL sports) or being the best person you can be for your God!

Jenn said...

I agree strongly! We allow our kids one activity. Right now it is piano lessons for the two older. The two younger don't have any scheduled activities. We decided long ago that we weren't going to rush our kids and ourselves from place to place just for the sake of having them be involved in extracurricular activities. I see many parents doing this and wonder when they fit in time to know one another as family members. Seems crazy to me, but then again this is how my parents raised me. A big thanks to my mom and dad for choosing family over extra activities.

Mom to 5...Daughter of the King said...

We very deliberately decided to not over schedule our kids. And you know what, my kids play! And they know how to pretend. they don't need me to structure their every moment. And we've been cutting back on the whole tv thing, too!

AmyG said...

While I cringed at your post about shutting off cable, I love this post. I'm a part of a message board where I feel the kids are so over worked, it's insane. Everynight there is at least one activity per child, but most times, the kids are shuffled to 2 or more activities. I can't imagine how the parents are getting time with the kids, but at the same time, how are they having time for school studies, or just time with friends, family or to themselves?

The idea of a sport is great, but I haven't rushed into it. Like you said, there will be time to get into those things as they get older.

Cassandra @ Tripping Around The Sun said...

If you havent read Kevin leman's book "HomeCourt Advantage"...now would be a great time. You are actually doing what he mentions in his book. Taking control of your family's schedule and time. And that HOME matters more than sports and activities. Again, my appluase and check out the book. :)

Cassandra @ Tripping Around The Sun said...

If you havent read Kevin leman's book "HomeCourt Advantage"...now would be a great time. You are actually doing what he mentions in his book. Taking control of your family's schedule and time. And that HOME matters more than sports and activities. Again, my appluase and check out the book. :)

Anonymous said...

I think it's an awesome idea!! More parents should choose to simply their family's life!! There will be plenty of time later for sports and such - parents need to spend time now with their kids - to ensure that later they will be the people they hope they can be... if that made sense... All of that shuffling around isn't exactly quality time..

marky said...

When I was a single mom with my first two kids, they were allowed 1..only 1 outside activity. I was one person and couldn't be spending every moment driving them someplace.
DD chose softball (spring) and ds chose scouts. We did church and that was it!
Now..with these two we are just 'busier' I don't know why.. we have soccer/scouts/church/and a list of other stuff. It drains me. We too are making some Changes.. we don't have family time.. and it is pretty sad that we have toSCHEDULE It..but I am desperate to find some..so family time is getting penciled in!
Enjoy doing this while your kids are young..it will have a lasting impression on them

southerninspiration said...

Oh, I DO understand. Your post reflects a lot of wisdom and a lot of bravery to give this a try. Enjoy!

The Apron Queen said...

Hmm, I could've sworn I saw you floating over the rooftops down here in TX with your umbrella & all. Are you sure that wasn't you?

Yea for more family time! :)

pjmomof3boys said...

We have really been struggling with this in my family as well. I'm so glad you're sharing your experiences and ideas!! I love the monthly giving activities. What a wonderful opportunity for the kids to really experience selflessness and the joy of giving! We've just started Financial Peace University, so our life is going to really change from a financial standpoint; maybe this is a good time to just make a complete overhaul of our family priorities!

Shara said...

I think the changes are going to be wonderful! When I was growing up, my parents would do individual "date nights" with each of us. It made us feel very special.

Cheryl said...

Thank you so much!! When my kids were little (they are 18, 15 and 14 now) every one had their kids in everything that came down the pike. My friends do it now and it is so annoying. I couldn't afford it then and now my kids are much happier and less stressed than many their own ages. I didn't even put them in preschool....that got me some looks too...

Amy said...

THANK YOU!!!!! I couldn't agree with you more. You are definitely an inspiration to all moms out there :)

Patti said...

We are busier now than we've ever been but stayed home a lot when the kids were little. You are wise to cut back now (on TV too). Boy Scouts & American Heritage Girls (like girls scouts only Christian in their focus http://www.ahgonline.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=18722 ) seem like a good place to invest time with the kids. With my four being ages 12 and up, time to spend with them dwindles each year. I aim to make the most of the time I have even if we are out of the house. Sometimes I see them MORE when we are not at home! :-)

Jamie @ Purposeful Pursuit said...

I applaud you! I am seriously feeling the desire to simplify our schedules, just not sure how to do it. Unfortunately, or fortunately (i don't even know) it is ministry activities that consume our week nights in addition to kids activities. I wish I could come up with a solution, but when your hubby is the pastor, it isn't any easy decision to make. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Doesn't it rock?

Anonymous said...

I think you are on the right track. We've deliberately minimized outside activities and have started a family night of our own. Now if I could just get Drama Queen's teacher's on board and assigning less homework!

Laura@Storytellin' Mama said...

What a great post... I too at times have felt overwhelmed and pressured about kids activities and like you my kids are 8,5,3, and 1.

I decided to take a break at the beginning of school and my 8 year old has chess club one day a week right after school done by 3:30 and my five year old has art one day after school also done at 3:30.

They are also happy to be home with each other and I have noticed that they play so well together and have fostered close relationships this summer and fall. it has definitely helped our family connectedness... I'm sure we will do some sports in the Spring, but for now it is nice to have family be the main event!!

Hope all your changes really engage your family in a meaningful way!

Kristy said...

I'm eagerly waiting for updates from you. My younger brother passed away this summer and since then I've realized that I need to make every second count with my kids (not that I didn't realize that before... but I think I forgot somewhere along the way). For the next few months, we're cutting out all activities except our small group on Thursday nights. We haven't cut cable yet, and I get a little anxious about that ;), but it's on my list of goals.

Thanks for taking a stand and being so inspiring.

fortyb4forty said...

We cut soccer from the schedule this fall and it has made a world of difference. We've always said no tv during the week and limit the weekends but even that we're reconsidering.
I love your idea of craft night, I'll have to think about doing that. Thanks for sharing, its encouraging to know we're not the only ones trying to slow down our schedule.

common mom said...

Good for you and the fam!

My kids are allowed one extra-curricular activity of their choice . . . Princess chose gymnastics, Dude wants to try tennis lessons. We do allow them to play soccer in the spring and fall while these others are going on. And Dude plays baseball in the summer . . . but there is no gymnastics or tennis in the summer then. I just refuse - I refuse to drag them all around and I refuse to lose the limited time I have with them.

My view on sports is this . . . if you've got it, you've got it and you'll be good at it - no matter when you start. When you're 8 or 9 you pick up things much quicker than if you're 4 or 5. So why cart them all over and lose that time with them if they aren't really into it? If they are into it at that age, go for it - but make sure they want to do it for the right reasons. If you love it, you'll enjoy it and play it well enough to do it with your friends no matter what age you are. But the most important thing is to let the kids be kids . . . organize their own baseball games in the cul de sac, play army in the woods, play street hockey with a baseball glove, gladiator vest, and baseball helmet.

We've never been a TV-watching family. My kids have never seen Sponge Bob and a lot of other shows. If we watch, it's an occasional football game or baseball game or a DVD. We don't have video games in the house . . . just no time. It's just how it's been for us. Without all that stuff, we're STILL busy all the time . . . I can't imagine what it would be like with those things as well.

Anyway - good for you! I think everyone needs to take a step back and examine what they do daily and which parts of it are an unnecessary drain and which parts are truly important. The answers are different for everyone.

Melanie said...

good for you!!! I think it's great when families take the reins and decide what is best for their family, rather than letting society dictate to them. You go, girl!!

kristen@nosmallthing said...

What a neat thing you're doing. My kids were in tkd, too, and I finally said enough...4 days a week, for 5 & 6 year old children??? Seriously??? I don't know what I was thinking, other than, we started this, made the commitment, and now we need to finish the job. I was trying to teach them to reach for a goal and get it. But it became not-so-fun anymore.

I told each of the kids (except the 1 year old) that they could choose one activity. Choose a sport. That's it. Not baseball AND soccer, baseball OR soccer. And I have had to reign *myself* in because I have the tendency to want them to try everything, and see what they like. But can they really like anything, when they are so busy they can't see straight?

Anyway, I think what you're doing is great!

Henley on the Horn said...

I left you something on my blog! Enjoy

Nicole said...

So well said. We have put a moratorium on organized sports. With three boys all 2 years apart, it would LITERALLY be every night out, all year long. I put my foot down and said, "No way". And my kids could really care less at their age. So they don't get picked for the high school team the first year around...it builds character.

They have just as much fun playing together or with the kids in our neighborhood (that congregate at our basketball hoop). Cassandra mentioned Kevin Leman's book, "Home Court Advantage"...I would so recommend it. Its all about how we pass on our busy-ness to our kids and over schedule them. Great post!

AGSoccerMom said...

While my kids did scouts we didn't do anything else either. Now, we are playing soccer with one child while the other concentrates on High School. You really do have to do what's good for your family, it may not work for someone elses schedule. Mine is in alittle limbo as we are transitioning out of AYSO into Club. I do see bright skies peekign thru thou.

Vanessa said...

Our kids are 6, 7, and 9. They are only allowed one extracurricular activity at a time.
If something has to go, THEY choose what that is.
I say "amen" to your post!

Tales From the Eurovan said...

You are speaking my language! I've been spending time lately working on a personal mission statement and being intentional in all I do. I'm reading a book called, "Breathe" by Keri Wyatt Kent about "creating space for God in a hectic life". I'm giving one away on my blog.

Take care,

Tales From the Eurovan said...

You are speaking my language! I've been spending time lately working on a personal mission statement and being intentional in all I do. I'm reading a book called, "Breathe" by Keri Wyatt Kent about "creating space for God in a hectic life". I'm giving one away on my blog.

Take care,

D... said...

Good for you for taking charge of your lives! I think kids feel so much pressure because of all the extra-curricular stuff. And, you are right, if YOU have aspirations for your child to do anything in high school, it has to start when they are toddlers. Ridiculous.

My kids only do one extra-curricular activity at a time. They've tried a variety of things and have found where their passions lie.

Diane said...

I too feel kids are over scheduled. I have cut my daughter down to one activity a session and then girl guides which she loves . I figure one year round activity and then one she picks is enough. She has so much going on at school which is all her choice that she doesnt need to have more than that. This time around it is drama which is great she is trying new things. It really makes her think when she has to pick one thing only though. I think that is great for the children.
Good for you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Christie O. said...

wow. i actually just talked about this with my best friend yesterday. i was wondering out loud why we weren't in all of these things when we were young kids, was it that they weren't offered? was it money? was it that there were lower expectations for kids back then? and i think it may have been a combination. i mean, there is swimming, baseball, football, soccer, gymnastics.. and that's just for the TWO YEAR OLDS. when did we get this way? i give you a high five for s-l-o-w-i-n-g down!! your family time together is inspirational!

Joy said...

This post made me want to better our lives, too. Family nights are really important to me but it's getting hubby on board that is difficult.

Suzy said...

I think you've made some great choices for your family.
Being busy and over scheduled can hinder a child's natural imagination. The kind they only get to use when they are exposed to a little bordem lol!

Alexia said...

I think the choices you are making for your family are great - it sounds like your household is taking a big sigh of relief!

My mom didn't allow any of us kids to take any sports until we were in Middle School and she was very sparing in other activities as well. I think it's good. Kids need time to be kids.

Domestic Spaz said...

We've done the same thing as far as scheduling. The kids only have scouts right now and it's wonderful. We'll probably put Goober in some sort of sport next year because it suits him, but I don't have the time or the money to enroll each kid in scouts and some other extracurricular activity. And honestly, when do kids get to just be kids if they're running from here and there all the time?

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Sounds wonderful! I do think all the activities for kids has gotten a little out of hand and you are made to feel like a bad parent if your kid is not involved in everything.

My son is doing baseball and that's it. No other activities. He told me in the past that he did not like to be "so busy" so I keep that in mind. I would love for him to take piano lessons and learn Spanish and work on golfing, but those things will have to wait or we will have to do them as a family.

You've given me some good ideas about scheduling some family nights.

Georgetta Nextdoor said...

It's so important for kids to have time to be kids...to cuddle with Mama, to play with siblings, to run around the back yard, to color at the kitchen table.....why the rush to fill every waking hour?

nicole said...

I like all of your ideas. Regarding scheduling, we are using the popular one activity per child rule. Right now my three older kids are playing soccer, and the girls are on the same team. It works for us.

Valarie said...

I truly wished I had done something like this earlier in our lives. With Jessie being 18 know and Syd 14 it will be hard to get them involved. I would love to try and do something like this though. :)

Queen B said...

Love this post. I could not agree more!!

Anonymous said...