My kids are into a lot of different stuff. At some point or another, I’ve had kids participate in softball, baseball, basketball, soccer, swim, gymnastics, and a camping and hiking group similar to Boy Scouts called Trail Life.
Right now, I have three sons swimming, one son playing basketball and working as team manager for a second basketball team, and a daughter in gymnastics. This is all awesome stuff, but it keeps our evenings and weekends really, really, really busy.
Here’s what our after-school schedule looked like this past week:
- Monday: swim practice and a basketball game
- Tuesday: swim practice at two separate locations
- Wednesday: swim practice and a basketball game
- Thursday: swim practice at two separate locations and gymnastics
- Friday: swim meet and a basketball game
- Saturday (today): swim meet and a basketball game
What makes things really hard is that quite often these events overlap and are held at separate locations, so getting kids to and from these different events becomes a logistical jigsaw that my wife and I have to tag team.
All of this begs the question: why? Why would we let our kids fill up our nights and weekends like this? Things don’t have to be this hard. We could just say “no, we’re too busy, you can’t do that right now.” Or, we could just say “everyone swims” and our lives would be easier. We have options to trim back on the craziness, but we don’t take them. Why?
I’ve thought a lot about why we accept this level of craziness and it really boils down to four things.
I Want My Kids to Explore and Discover
My oldest kids were able to pick and choose the activities they wanted to participate in. My oldest was the first to try soccer, swimming, and join Trail Life. My second oldest was the first to try baseball.
As the rest of my kids got older, they initially tried out the activities their older siblings had tried out. However, as my younger kids have gotten a little older, they’ve wanted to try new things that their older siblings haven’t tried. My third born was the first (and only one so far) to try basketball. My daughter, is the only one who has tried gymnastics. My basketball player is talking about running cross-country next year, and if he does he’ll be the first of my kids to do that.
It’s not fair to my kids if I force them to pick the activities their siblings are participating in. How will they discover what they like the most and are best at if I don’t let them try new things? I accept that as they try new things my life will grow more complex, but they need to explore if they’re going to discover what they really want to do.
I Love Watching Them Develop
Another reason I put up with all the busyness is that it’s rewarding for me. I enjoy watching my kids work hard and get better at the things they’re involved in.
At this point, I’ve got three kids who are really solid swimmers. I’ve had kids play all-stars in both baseball and softball. Just this week, one of my kids had their three first basketball games ever, and the amount of improvement I saw over those three games has been so much fun to watch.
It’s Good for Them
I love to be active. I love to play sports, hike, run, ride a bike, swim, or go for a long walk. When it comes to staying active, you name it and nearly every time I’m going to be up for it. I want my kids to develop the same lifelong love of being active and getting outside because that will lead them to be healthier and happier for the rest of their lives.
It’s My Job
The bottom line is that as a parent I believe my number one job is to raise my kids. Raising my kids comes before my career and my own projects and goals. They are my top priority and I want them to have access to every opportunity.