Any parent with small children knows that although summertime is a great chance to spend some quality time with your kids, it can also get a bit hectic. Between the playdates, Summer camps, and sports practices, it seems like there's little time left in the day to relax. Blogger and mother of three Christine Martin of Amidst the Chaos discusses why she won't be signing her kids up for sports this Summer — and why she's totally cool with that.
Soccer, baseball, T-ball, football, rugby, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, dance, ballet, skating, volleyball, and the list goes on. That is just for sports and recreation. Then we have arts. You have every single instrument out there as well as traditional art classes. Now what about Summer camps? Can't forget those. Add in some church events (if you are part of your local church community), free community events, and don't forget your family holidays. Before you know it, your entire Summer is spoken for, and it hasn't even begun.
The lists of activities that are available for our children nowadays are endless. It's one thing to have countless possibilities, and it's another to actually have your child be a part of 10 different activities a week. I think it's safe to say we all know people who fit this bill pretty accurately, right?
Personally, I don't feel the pressure to have my kids in a million activities . . . until I go on social media. That is where the inadequacy starts to creep in. I feel like my children are well versed and have loads of opportunities to be a part of various activities. However, as soon as I start scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, I instantly feel it. I tense up, and a mild form of panic starts to set in.
"Well, so-and-so has their kid in baseball, swimming, three day camps, and they visit every splash pad in the city on a regular rotation." I immediately start googling last-minute registrations for day camps, hoping I am not too late. Darn it, I am. I guess my kids will just have to suffer through this boring Summer season playing at the regular park down the street and blowing bubbles in the backyard.
STOP. This is ridiculous. Do you see how this happens? If you are honest with yourself, I bet this has happened to you. You feel perfectly adequate with the choices you've made for your children until you see what your friend is doing with theirs and suddenly, you don't measure up.
After looking at our busy Summer calendar this Summer, I knew that it was going to be sheer lunacy to register my kids for any kind of sport. Last Summer, I had the two oldest in soccer. Worst decision of my life. OK, maybe that's a tad dramatic, but do you get the effect?
Let me tell you, I dreaded soccer nights. The kids are one year apart, and because of that, they had to be on two different teams; therefore, that meant two different nights out. Soccer started at 6:30 p.m., and it was on the complete opposite side of the city. By the time my hubby would get home from work, we would inhale our dinner and be rushing out the door to make it on time.
Source: Christine Martin
This is probably a good time to remind everyone that my kids were 3 and 4 years old last Summer. I had initially thought that maybe they were too young, but after cruising my Facebook feed, I was reassured by many of my friends who were enrolling their kids into soccer that mine were not too young. In fact, they were a year behind in the soccer leagues.
Let me just get to the point and tell it like it is: 3-year-olds should NOT be playing soccer. Really, it shouldn't even be called soccer for anyone under the age of 5. What happened on those fields last Summer as I sat on the sidelines and watched was anything BUT soccer. It was organized chaos. Scratch that, it was just chaos. Half the time my child, along with many others, wouldn't even stay on the field unless one of the parents came to stand with them. The most common question was "when is snack time?" That IS the only reason my 3-year-old would go. My daughter preferred making "grass angels" and picking flowers rather than trying to get the ball into the net.
I had to miss out on other more exciting events last Summer that happened to fall on one of those two soccer nights because I refused to just quit halfway through the season. Even though every fiber of my being told me to do so, on principle, I would show my kids that once you commit to something, you stick with it. So we continued on, all eventually hating it, just to prove that we weren't quitters.
Source: Christine Martin
So it's not hard to conclude that when I got the 2015 Summer season registration email, it didn't even get opened and swiftly went into the trash.
What is it with my generation of parents that think we have to get our kids involved in everything under the sun when they are barely out of the womb? They have the rest of their lives to play all kinds of sports and learn all kinds of instruments and paint all kinds of pictures. They are only this young once. Why do we feel this pressure to shove them into any and every activity and recreation available just because we think they are going to miss out. Let me tell you this, THEY AREN'T!
Listen, I'm not here to condemn all sports and activities for kids. And if you sat on the sidelines of your 3-year-old's soccer game last night, that's OK too. All I want to say is that at the end of the day, you need to decide what is right for your family. Don't let social media dictate what activities your kids should or shouldn't be doing. Make a choice for what works for your children and your family's schedule.
And at the end of the day, if you choose to just sit this Summer out and enjoy long nights at the beach instead of bribing your 3-year-old with snacks to kick that ball into the net, know that they will be just fine. In fact, you all might be better off as a family for it. Enjoy that quality time, and I'll see you at that beach!