Sunday at church, I ran into an awesome lady who used to organize Sunday night volleyball for a bunch of out of shape adults. I mentioned to her how much I missed those two hours each Sunday and wished we all still got together. She agreed and then responded, “We are busy every night with our kids.”
You know, maybe I was lucky, for I grew up in a house that couldn’t afford anything outside of the basics: some new clothes once a year at school time, food every day, a trip to the thrift store every once in awhile, and one fun vacation for the six of us. I never had the chance of playing any sports outside of the home until I reached high school. Because of this, I don’t have any perspective about the power of club sports, cheerleading, etc.; however, I wonder if we are doing our kids a disservice?
A few years ago, my wife and I read a book titled “Bringing Up Geeks” by Marybeth Hicks. I am not doing it justice by summarizing it so briefly; however, one of the key takeaways for the reader is limiting what your kids do outside of the house.
Wow, how annoying. Think about your childhood. Were you busy every single night of the week? Even my richest friends weren’t busy every night. What happened to us? When did it become expected that we taxi our kids everywhere for their activities?
We are feeling the time crunch of extracurricular activities already, and Eli is only five. We signed him up for [inlinetweet prefix=”Taekwondo, which means three nights per week in Korean.” tweeter=”getconnectdad” suffix=”null”]Taekwondo, which means ‘three nights per week’ in Korean.[/inlinetweet] My wife donates two nights of our week to his training. I like the progress he is making with respect and manners; however, at what cost? Dinner at home used to be standard operating procedure; however, now it is a quick sandwich on the way to the center at least one-night per week.
Here are some thoughts when considering how much time committed to sports is enough.
1. Do you feel pressured to sign your kid up because other kids are doing it? Or other parents?
2. What would happen if you took the money you are spending on these activities and focus it on tutoring, family activities, vacations? Don’t forget to think about the Total Cost Of Activity. It isn’t uncommon for competitive sports to cost $10,000 per child each year.
3. Are your kids getting enough rest? Tonight, while watching my son take his belt test, it was clear that he had had enough for the day. A full day of school takes a lot of focus for a child. Are you kids getting time to recover? Boredom is good for kids.
4. How long has it been since you and your spouse have been on a date? Are you sacrificing your happiness for the possibility your child will ‘make it big’ in a sport? Statistically, you might serve them better by investing the money you would spend on an activity in a college fund.
5. Do you keep in touch with your friends from Junior High School and High school? I do not; however, some people might be more connected than I am. Given that our world changes more and more each year, the friendships your young one makes will probably not last past a year or two.
This week’s trait is ‘be focused, ‘ and I feel like we are losing focus as parents. Our responsibility is to do the hard work of raising our kids. When we count travel time to an activity as part of our ‘quality time,’ there is something wrong.
Our second habit, ‘Devote 1 hour each week to each kid,’ requires you to ask yourself, what does my child want to be doing? How can I engage with them? Cheering from the sidelines of a sporting event, isn’t it.
Do you have a different opinion? Are you someone who spends each night shuttling your kids between activities? I would love your perspective.