I am a huge advocate for not overscheduling kids. I am thankful that Tim and I are on the same page about this. We love nothing more than to turn the kids loose in the yard to create their own adventure or make friends with the neighborhood kids. We have a general agreement with the kids’ mom that they will do one sport per season. That seems reasonable, right? With two elementary age children who are not Olympic material, that means one to two nights a week, right? Right?
Okay, maybe not wrong. Because sometimes it is only two nights. (Plus Saturdays.) But what about when those two nights are your only nights with the kids? Instead of thinking of it as 2 out of 5 nights, or even 7, think of it as 2 out of 2. This article affirmed for me that I’m not the only one who sees this limited time as even more precious (see #2).
Admittedly, it’s hard for me to get excited about children’s sports. I’m not athletic, didn’t have siblings incredibly dedicated to sports, and definitely didn’t have parents with the resources or desire to facilitate the involvement of four children in various sports through the years.
(I did have one disastrous summer of trying to learn softball. It’s the stuff that family jokes are still frequently made of.)
But it’s not just sports. Ana is in Brownies. Approximately 85% of her Brownie meetings and activities since January 2015 have fallen during our custody time. And when I look ahead to a stretch in May when we have back to back to back evenings of Brownies and soccer, capped off by a Saturday with two separate trips to the soccer field across town, I find myself beyond frustrated.
Perhaps I’m overreacting. Certainly there are families with more activities and more busyness than we have. But you know what? They chose it. Just like we chose it. I just lament our current situation because I thought we worked hard to avoid this kind of scheduling.
The kids both enjoy soccer, so that makes it easier to not be so bitter about it (even though I may not sound like it right now!). But when I have to cajole one of them into a practice or a game or an activity, I chalk up one more tally on the wall of “Reasons not to be overscheduled”. They legitimately like being at home. When we overbook them, at least at this age, they let us know by being fussy about leaving.
And can I be honest about one more thing here? I feel very uncomfortable in the soccer parent setting. Many of the kids have been playing together for years and so the parents have developed healthy friendships. No matter how congenial Tim’s ex-wife and I are, it’s clearly awkward for people to figure out what to do with the stepmom. I get that.
So. We have 6-7 weeks left of soccer and then the summer stretches out gloriously before us with no organized sports but instead lots of bike riding, sidewalk chalk, sprinklers, playground picnics, and overnight camping in the backyard (StepMolly sleeps inside). In the meantime if you’re looking for me, I’ll be the parent with her nose in her book, quite content to read in the car during practice. Or maybe nap.