504 Main by Holly Lefevre: Writers Workshop: Too Much?
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Writers Workshop: Too Much?

I am always perplexed, mystified, and baffled at how we, as a family, fit so many things into our daily lives. I think about this often. I think about the activities my kiddos are in and then I think about what I did as a kid. I was able to entertain myself...I drew and drew and designed and crafted...I played one sport and did my school work. I did not have my days planned.

Joe's schedule alone keeps me on my toes: a rotation of soccer, basketball and baseball, Cub Scouts, after school classes...I cannot even tell you how happy I am to say karate is "no more" in this house. Then there is regular school work, homework, and special projects. Trying to find the time to fit in "down time" is down right difficult. I have many days when I just want to say, "Pick one thing...one activity. That is it." Then on the other hand I want them to be able to experience all they can, but is it too much?

He has asked for music lessons, but really? When? I know some of this anxiety, this pressure to fit it all in comes from me...I really wanted to take acting classes and piano lessons and a few other things when I was younger and did not. Did I miss my calling? I do not want him to miss his. I want him to experience all there is to offer in this world, but not overwhelm him at the same time.

Yesterday was a reminder (I need those every know and then) about how much fun we can have if we are all just together doing simple things at home. Of course the kids helped me sort, sand, and paint things...hey...no judging...a little diying is good for everyone! Then we made dinner together and settled down for bed. I wish for more days like this...but alas most afternoons are filled with (self-imposed) back-and-forths to a sport or activity or an errand related to a future activity.

I typically manage all of this craziness in my head, but now, as I prepare to take off next week - by myself - and leave the kids at home with hubby and my mother in law,  I have to write it down and it all comes to a head: birthday parties, baseball tryouts, basketball games (x 2 Jules plays too)...as I make a schedule I am reminded again of the complexities of our schedules...and I am reminded that I am their example.

Ultimately how do I expect my kiddos to just be when I have trouble just being - they see me blogging, crafting, running around with them, writing book proposals, making dinner, cleaning the house (sometimes), putting them to bed...they know I go to bed at 2 am. So do I think they are over scheduled?...Yes. Am I over scheduled?...Yes.  We have made these decisions , but have we gone too far? Not far enough? Where does it all stop?

I need to reteach myself in order to teach them. I need to break the cycle of constant business. I need to be able to let the kids be...just be. To play with each other to dance around the living room to Camp Rock or Taylor Swift. I need to be able to join in with them...these times will pass too quickly...they already have. I need to be able to walk away from the computer and lay on the grass and look at clouds...to walk slowly on the sand instead of carrying Jules because her little legs cannot take such big steps.

So, now I ask you...are your kids over-scheduled? Do you have a plan for this? Do you have rules for activities? I am not in over my head yet...but that is because Jules is only 3 1/2!
P.S. Now, I hesitated to write this, mainly because most of this is my own doing. I am not blind to that. So, please be kind in the comments (pretty please).

From Writer's Workshop...Prompt #3: It has been said that kids these days are pushed into too many extra-curricular activities and are not given the freedom to play and be bored and to use their imaginations. Is this true?


  1. LOL! No, not at your post, but at the fact that you & linked up at the same time...well, you must have beat me by a few! ;>:>

    I have a few ideas and opinions on the subject, but really they are just theoretical as we don't schedule activities for the most part on weekday afternoons & evenings. With a kidlet with autism, they require time to decompress in order to set themselves up for success the next day. But, that's us.

    I was in Girl Scouts from 1st grade through an adult coleader of my old Senior troop. I did gymnastics when I was ten & under, swimming lessons when I was a kid, but I also remember a lot of free time to let our imaginations guide us. But, then again, that was the very early days of video games (and we didn't have that famed Atari!) and there was much less time spent plugged in....which, I think is where a lot of kids head today when they don't have activities planned.

    I think if your kidlet is happy, enjoying the activities, not stressed, and able to keep up with it all (I'd imagine easier now vs. when homework hours get longer), then everything will work out okay. I think everyone is programmed differently and you go with what works for that individual.

    Family DIY can be fun! Our kidlets will drop anything & everything when they see Daddy's tools come out. My wee girl does the same if she sees any of my craft or art supplies arrive on the scene as well. And hey....look, you were able to check something off of your to-do list and share an activity with your kids...sounds like a win-win to me! :>:>

  2. Anonymous5:34 AM

    I try to keep our activities to a minimum because I can't stand hectic evenings. It makes the kids grouchy,too. Sometimes they will ask about signing up for more things but I remind them that there are only so many hours in the day and we need to have priorities.

  3. Hi Holly. I am right there with you x2. Someday to be x3. It is crazy in the evenings around here. I figure in the near future as homework loads increase we are going to have to make some tough choices but for now I try to limit each kid to 2 activities plus cub scouts. I have been able to do it with Ian, but not with Coop who wants to join everything. I don't want to limit them because I want to give them a chance to figure out what they enjoy and if at home they have a hard time using up all of that excess energy.

  4. Mine is probably a unique perspective, considering I have the opposite problem at my house. My son refuses to find a motivator or a hobby that interests him (short of playing video games and watching TV). He does play basketball for a few months out of the year, but that's it, really. Last year was probably his last baseball season ever (he "hates" it) and he's been begging me for months to quit band at school (he "hates" it).

    At times, I'm grateful that we can just be low key and know that he's safe & sound in our game room. Then, other times, I worry that he may never find something that excites him enough to get up & DO. I can't even imagine not having a passion, so I keep my fingers crossed that he will find his someday...

    There's probably a happy medium between your life and mine, I'd guess... I say just do what you do, girl! And maybe funnel some of that energy my way. LOL :)

  5. I have always had the rule at my house that each kid can only be in one sport and one other activity at a time. So, usually that meant a sport and cub scouts or girl scouts. That other activity could just have well had been art or music classes. As the kids get older, they can try new things at summer (day)camps and the like. I will let you know however, that as the kids get older, they will naturally narrow down what they want to do because they will be more involved with hanging out with their friends. My kids are now 12 & 14 and they each play a sport most of the year. They are not in any other activities because they would rather have free time. With my 14 year old (in high school), it has become easy because he has practice after school and if I am running late, he can just hang out until I get there. It will become easier. You just need to figure out what your limit are and stick to them.

  6. Hello from a fellow Workshop Writer....

    I didn't do anything as a child, and was always so envious of kids who got to go to the ball park and play and get out on school nights, etc.

    When my sons came along, I got them started in sports as soon as I could, and they have been going strong ever since.

    We have it pared down to one sport per child per semester, but at one point we were absolutely overwhelmed....but probably me moreso than them. I can remember the days of having each son in a different age division of whatever sport was being played, and between practices and games, we were out of the house every single night of the week.

  7. Well, we don't have kids, but we've done a lot of talking about this since my husband has a cousin whose minute-to-minute life is scheduled for her. Basketball, indoor and outdoor soccer, flute, piano, straight A's in school. Always a game, practice, lesson or recital. And we talk about what we want our approach to be. I think the key is, as you say, exposure. I want to be sure that they have access to try whatever they want. But just like when I was a kid, a time has to come when only the very favorite activities are kept as part of life. There has to be a balance there, if only for sanity's sake. DH is big on letting kids have free time, but even then, there is so much out there on TV and online...Maybe it's not a bad idea to keep a kid busy. There really is no right answer, other than what's right for the family.

  8. Anonymous7:41 AM

    When I was in high school, I did as much as I could, and now, as a college grad, I still find my life to be as hectic, if not more.

    My attitude, when it comes to children's activities, is simple: let them get involved in as many activities they like, as long as they enjoy doing them. Don't force them into anything, unless, of course, they need tutoring or help with school work. It's so important to be well-rounded, and kids need to get a taste of everything, music included. It gives them an identity, and eventually, they will sort through the baseball, Math Team, Student Council, and orchestra to pick the activities they LOVE, not merely like.

    Great entry to Mama's Workshop! I hope you can stop by my entry, too!

  9. I have to run (work calls) but thank you for sharing this. I wrote to the same prompt - sounds like we share some of the same concerns.

  10. I really have nothing to add. Being an empty nester, it's hard to recall those days.
    Jamie did a lot, but she still brings up the fact that she never got any music lessons, she feels she missed out on that. So my thought is this, nothing is perfect, do what you can.
    I do hope you find the time for that whole watching the clouds thing! that sounds awesome!
    take care!

  11. I think you just have to find the right balance for your family. When it becomes overwhelming and no one is enjoying the activities anymore, then it's too much. Also, the kids need to be the ones wanting to do the activities, which it sounds like yours are.

    My kids are only 5 and 2, so we haven't hit this point yet. I am kind of dreading it. We are always so busy as a two-working-parent family, that I can't imagine squeezing anything else in. But I guess we'll make it work when the time comes. Good luck!

  12. It's a tough balancing act, I know!

    When my son was younger he was involved in a different sport every season along with karate, which was year-round. He was also in a few after school clubs. It seemed like we were always going to or from some activity. I got really tired of it, and eventually, so did he. Once he got to middle school, he wanted more time to hang out with his friends so he picked his favorite sports and stuck with them, but dropped the others.

    My daughter is the complete opposite. She's interested in creative things much more than sports so she would rather spend her evenings drawing, painting, reading or researching something on the computer (she's trying learn how to become an animator, currently). I have to admit, I like the less hectic schedule, although I'd like to get her involved in music lessons at some point.

  13. Since most of my parenting life has been as a working single parent, there's no way I could have kept up with your pace and schedule.

    My daughters were in Scouts during the school year, and they played softball in summer.

    Summer was the busy time, but it worked out better, because there was no homework to contend with, and bedtimes could be more flexible.

    During softball season, I know we were running to games four evenings a week (with practices here and there).

    That seemed like more than enough for me to handle...although I'm sure the fast food restaurants enjoyed the increased cash we were giving them as we ate on the way to the game!

  14. Finding balance is hard.

    But from a woman who has had kids grown up and leave the nest and is now watching it with Grands...the stuff that can wait, let it. Period.

    I used to bemoan not having time to write, play music, garden...and now I have so much more time...I would trade it all in a second, though, to sit for an hour reading to my kids, or to make a fort outside and lay under the stars.

  15. We used to be over scheduled to the extreme. Two ADHD boys, one going to art class, science class, basketball and gym. The other taking chef's lessons two nights a week and karate five nights a week. Add in that we have Wednesday nights with my stepson. Whew! I have never been happier than to see karate come to a close.

    It required so much time, just the classes were bad enough, but Saturday was taken up with belt testing or competitions (required for team karate members).

    Since I am no longer employed we have not been able to do ALL the activities and honestly, my boys are happier. They have time to breathe. I think perhaps it helps that mom isn't as stressed out running around like a maniac. I tend to be a little type a???

    Anyway, just doing the Math team and after school activities seems to be much easier on all of us. Doing projects at home keeps them entertained and I think really fulfilled.

    That's just us though.

  16. You know what? I think you're doing just great! You give your kids something to be proud of, and you care an aweful lot for them. Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for that! Kids that have a schedule to juggle learn to do just that...juggle. These are the kids that won't falter and fail when they have more than 1 school assignment due on the same day, or more importantly when real life takes its first few heartless shots at them.

  17. You're so not alone. So many of us push it and push it and push it. I was forced to cut back on life in general when I had a horrible fall in '06. From wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and braces, I couldn't push it any more. It was a blessing in disguise as I discovered my artistic abilities and am so grateful for my new life.

  18. My kids are 26 and 28 now, so we are certainly past this phase of life. However, my friends are all younger than I am and they are right in the middle of it. I have lengthy discussions with one of my friends about this topic. We talked yesterday about how her girls have someone spend the night every weekend and anytime there is a school holiday. It was a special treat for my kids. My children were involved in things, but it didn't get very busy until junior high and they had to pick what interested them most. They took piano lessons, my son quit after a year and my daughter stayed with it a while. They played sports, but only 1 sport per season (times 2 kids, we were busy). I let them try the things they wanted, but I also didn't let them go everywhere they wanted or always have friends over. I wanted them to be able to entertain themselves and they can! I also loved family time, just the four of us and those are some of their best memories. They talk now about the things we did as a family...not about what class they took or how many sleepovers they had.

    I think between texting, facebook and having to have friends around all the time...along with being scheduled into too many things...the young kids of today aren't being taught how to relax. They see it as being bored. I sound old, but I don't really approve of it. They have their entire lives to be stressed out. Just my opinion but I love it that my kids can be happy curled up with a good book!

  19. I don't have kids, but I am obsessive about over-booking myself & working too much. My husband is always wondering when I will just walk away from the computer and live... I do (scheduled in of course) but I really need to think about more, spontaneous living. Good lesson here.

  20. I didn't overschedule my kids when they were little, but when they reached middle school and high school, they overscheduled themselves!

  21. Girl, you really nailed this post! You talked about so much that I have been thinking about myself lately. Not so much with Lia being over scheduled but more about me being over scheduled or Troy over scheduled. What kind of an example am I teaching her from the get go in her life that you have a million things being juggled all the time. And of course she sees the stress that comes with all that. Finding balance so a constant struggle. I keep waiting for someone to come up with the perfect solution.

  22. Anonymous9:21 PM

    Love your post! My husband and I are making up for lost time with my son. He tried tee ball, and then tried soccer...he hated them! He was a stay-at-home, nintendo playing kid, until he turned 14. My kid is an actor. A good one. Really good. And now that he is 17, his school year is packed. Seriously. He's at school by 7:30 am and he gets home at 9pm...all for theater!

    So we're making up for not pushing him into organized sports.

    It's a choice. But I figure that he's only a kid once!

  23. Oh Holly. You're just so good. You just are. I think you know you're tired, and you know why. And when you put both of those things together, that gives you your answer. Maybe even some small changes could make big differences. You don't want to feel like you've run yourself ragged 24/7. It's fun to have activities, but sometimes more is just more. Go easy on yourself whatever you decide.

  24. We are one of the most overscheduled families I know. Seriously - the only night we have free is Friday night. Even my 4 1/2 year old has dance, gymnastics, and hockey. It is crazy, but my children love it. I think it is important for them to learn time management, how to work together, and to socialize. All their activities are sports so we also want to make sure that they are always active and healthy. My 11 year old is kind of inbetween activities right now, currently only has 2 things going on and she is really getting crabby. I can't wait for Softball to start next week!!!
    I think you do whatever works for your family. If your children are stressed (and you would know), or over tired all the time (again you would know), or beg to stay home then maybe you should reduce your activities. If not keep on doing what you are doing!

  25. Anonymous7:54 AM

    I'm so glad you wrote about this topic! I know so many people who are going through the same thing, including me. I don't think it is a good thing that my heart races on a daily basis (and not because of exercise)and there is an overwhelming feeling of just pure craziness.

    I'm 37, have four children between the ages of 21 and 4, a new son-in-law and a new granddaughter. My son is in his first year of High School and he is only in one sport right now, but they practice every single day of the week (I have to pick him up) and then sometimes games twice a week. Then he has CCD on top of it. Although his schedule is actually smaller than it used to be, his homework load is more demanding and I guess this makes it feel just as hectic. My ten year old and four year old decided to not do dance this year, which, saves two nights a week, but we still have Pre-k that I drive my four year old to three times a week, CCD, basketball, and some after school programs. Even though my oldest lives in a different state, I'm still having a lot of get-togethers for them when they come visit and we try to cram in everything we can while they are here.

    I am still trying to earn my BA degree part-time, paint and refinish furniture for my booth, exercise, keep my house clean and blog. I am finding that I just can't do it all and stay the sane, happy woman that I want to be. The guilt sets in whenever something I'm trying to do is lacking, and that has been my blog and my furniture. I love reading the blogs so much that I thought of trying to do one myself so I could meet new friends, and I just can't keep up with that very well either. I don't know how you all do it and still have beautiful homes! Time is going by way too fast, even though I try to slow it down, and I'm afraid that I'm rushing around so much that the only thing I'm going to remember when I look back at these years...are the hours of driving.

    I think there has to be a good balance for everyone, we just need to help each other find it! Good luck, and let me know what you come up with!! (I'll be thinking of your post as I spend my day getting my daughter's pictures done for her school, going to my other daughter's basketball game, and then two birthday parties today. I'm determined to NOT get edgy and enjoy the day!)

  26. My kids are not over scheduled it is me. I go somewhere almost every day! My eldest was listing off all the things I do each day and when she finished she said, "I am glad I am not you!" haha


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