Monday, November 17, 2008

Kids Activities

I have this second career. It involves chauffeuring my daughter to birthday parties. It has become, like, an every other weekend activity lately. It also involves a financial investment, so the presents have been getting cheaper and cheaper. (Sorry if you have invited Audrey to a party and received a smaller present but we are trying to live on a budget ....)

Anyhow, at this last party, I got talking to the other moms, and the conversation turned toward kids' activities. One mom was talking about gymnastics and pee wee sports, another was talking about ballet, swimming lessons, and virtual golf lessons (virtual golf? "what is that?" I wanted to ask ...) They then turned to me - what is Audrey in?

Fortunately I do have that once-a-week art class that all four of her grandparents gave her for her birthday .... but other than that? She's in preschool. For me that's enough. I'm wondering - how many things should a 5 year old be "in" anyhow?

It amazes me how busy kids are these days, even preschoolers! I certainly don't begrudge anyone for involving their kids in some lessons or classes, I think it's great to expose kids to different opportunities if you can, but I just wonder - what ever became of playing? The mother who was talking about virtual golf has her kids in school 4 mornings a week, said that every Friday they go to a museum or zoo or something, and on weekends go out for other activities... my question was - how do they have time for all this? When do they get to just color and imagine and run around like banshees, just for the fun of it?

I certainly want my kids to have the opportunity to try new things and learn new skills. I actually wish I could involve them in a few more activities, like swimming lessons and the like. But I also want them to learn how to entertain themselves, and imagine great things, and have time to play with other kids in an unstructured kind of way. Maybe this seems selfish - but I also really don't want to spend my days running around from one thing to the next like a chicken with my head cut off. Honestly, I feel like a worse parent when I am on the run too much. I don't think things through, I react too quickly, and I snap too easily. So I kind of feel like it's better for all of us to limit the number of formal activities with which we get involved.

Maybe that makes me a lame mom, but I feel that it makes me a mom who is more available - with the freedom to take walks with the kids or bake cookies together or read books or play Chutes & Ladders. Not that I do these things every day! But I can.

Besides, at least I do spend every other Saturday driving to birthday parties ..... :)

What about you? Are you a "more the merrier" mom in respect to kids' activities or are you more of minimalist when it comes to getting them involved in outside activities? I'd love to hear other opinions on this subject ...


Kaylee said...

I'm with you. I think less is more. Plus without the commitment of a lot of scheduled things, you are free to do spur of the moment "field trips" and "plya dates" and "adventures" as we call them when we just go outside to explore and see what we can find. I think less gives you more chance to be creative and I think kids learn more that way. Just my opinion, of course. No offense to anyone.

Chris Ann Schultz said...

Thanks Amy,

I agree. I have a friend that scheduled her daughter into everything when she was little, and luckily cost wise, God worked things out, but I was always like does she want to or you want her to? She was about 2-3 yrs. old.
In the summer, I like Chantel to be able to hang out in play. I'm even opposed to Preschool, since Chantel's the best behaved one in her Kindergarten class, as I hear how others behave and have seen in classes myself. I was always like, why would I pay more for something that would make her act worse! And she's been to family babysitters with other children and didn't need a lot of socialization.
Chantel's only been to one child birthday party in her life. It was for a boy in her Kindergarten Class. She is enjoying and learning how to make friends and be a friend. So far one person is officially coming to her party first one ever, except for family one's, age 6 in December.

I can imagine how expensive parties could get on a budget. I wouldn't like spending my money on kids my daughter doesn't know, too well.
I only had one party when I was 16 and a baptismal party age 8, otherwise a family party was it. My cousin's both had a kids party when they were in kindergarten.
I wouldn't have signed Chantel up for ballet, if she didn't ask, she loves it and we aren't pushing her, She's a firstborn, she wouldn't let us anyway!
Yes, my ex-sister-in-law seems to think that kids need to be entertained. I totally disagree!
Doing some fun family activities together and just vegging out together at home are fun too! That's been our year. We only entertained once all year, that's all we could handle emotionally, with the rough year, we've had.
Thanks for sharing, Sorry for the long reply!

Aimster said...

Hey Amy.
I'm with you. I can't articulate it. I've written and deleted a bunch of responses. But, I SO agree with you. I'll have to leave it at that.
You're right. :)

Karen said...

Brian and I have taken the approach to the girls that we want them to be active kids and not TV junkies. So, we have involved them in a gym class and swim lessons. However, we are firm believers in letting kids be kids. As you well know, based on our relationship, we love the kids being outside with the unstructured freedom to be a kid. Thanks for having similar beliefs so that our kids can play together and just be kids.

nateandkatesmom said...

Well, I've said it before. I hate a busy schedule. You will find when Audrey gets into Kindergarten, that school and homework is a lot in itself. I involved Nathan in Karate, by recommendation of his teacher to help him focus. It was good for him and he did enjoy it. Then swim lessons, I felt were necessary for both kids because of my in-laws pool.
Now we have cub scouts. I would not force them into any of it, and I do like them to be involved in something. I think it during the school year when it's the toughest, because time is limited by school so much. I agree with Karen......I don't want them to be TV junkies or couch potatoes, so as long as they spend their time at home doing something active or playing together or with friends,or doing something that keeps their brains from going to mush, I'm happy with that. I do feel a bit bad because Kaitlyn has been asking to do ballet. I'm afraid she'll change her mind after she starts and I really don't want one more thing one the schedule so I haven't pursued it. I guess we'll see. If she keeps asking I might have to bite the bullet and let her try it....if we can afford it.

ErinOrtlund said...

I've become quite minimalist this year. Last year, I drove Kate to French immersion preschool 4 afternoons a week, and stayed in town that whole time. I don't regret it--it was good to be out and about, and honestly, I found that transition from one to two to be so jarring that it's not like Kate was really getting much quality time with me at home anyway. But this year, she goes two afternoons a week to a little preschool around the corner. We go to a Moms and Tots group one other morning, and join Eric at seminary chapel/lunch. But yeah, there's a lot more time to play around the house--and I feel closer to Kate this year than I did last year. She goes to kindergarten next year--even though it's only in the AM, this is the last year where we will be this unscheduled. I like to get out and do things, but I don't like feeling like I HAVE to be somewhere, which I would if I paid for a bunch of classes. That said, we are having some TV issues, and I need to put some more limits on her time there. At the risk of being too long-winded, there are times when I feel guilty, like I should have her in more stuff, or even do more intensive one on one stuff with her at home. But then I think of all the great thinkers and doers throughout history who probably had mothers with gaggles of kids and a busy schedule just keeping the basics of a home running. I bet they benefitted from lots of time to themselves, to tinker and dream and create. And it's probably even more true for children who are introverts. Not that Kate is--pretty sure! :)