Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Over Scheduled and Overwhelmed

Yesterday was a typical Monday around our house.  4:30 found Isabella and I out at the stables for her riding lessons.  Nate was at home with a buddy while Erik worked in the office upstairs.  JT was at a friends house.

We left the stables at 5:30 swung by to pick up JT and arrived home at 6:00.  Nate's friend had been picked up by his dad (as was arranged).  I had dinner on the table in 10minutes (ok so it was leftovers, not gourmet, but it was food).  And 40 minutes later I was heading back out the door.  My comment to Erik as I flew out the door was something like this "I fed the dog, fed the cat, fed the kids, fed you.  You have clean sheets on the bed (he was sick all day yesterday) and so does JT (he wet the bed the night before)  his comforter is in the dryer.  Now I'm off to save some orphans. I should be home by 9! Love you baby!"  Ok, I wasn't REALLY saving orphans but I WAS attending a team meeting for my upcoming trip to Haiti, where I will interact with orphans.  Close, right?

I couldn't help but think as I raced to the meeting I was pretty sure I was going to be late to, "Are we over scheduled?"  I have tried SO hard NOT to over schedule us.   There isn't a parenting book I have read that hasn't stated that we are over scheduling our kids.  Counselors say it, statistics prove it, experts preach it.  American kids are over scheduled!!  So I have tried.  I REALLY have.  I have said no when my kids ask to do 2 sports at once.  I have said no to scouts (and I DO understand the merits of being an Eagle Scout, I really do).  I have said no to music lessons (and I KNOW statistics prove how beneficial this is to young minds).  I have said no to leading VBS at church, and half a dozen other things I'm asked to help with.  We can't possibly be over scheduled can we???

Honestly, with a family of 5 it's pretty easy to get over scheduled.  With all 3 kids in some kind of activity, it is pretty often that things overlap, I spend more time in my car that out of it, and someone is having to catch a ride with a friend.  Family dinners get missed.  When I talk to other moms about this I hear things like "yes, that is the season of life we are in"  or "it's just for a short time" or "but they WANT to do all these things"  or "I want them to be able to try different things" or "if we don't start them young they won't stand a chance at doing it later".  These are all true.  But does that make it right?  Is that really what is BEST for our kids?  They are also in the season of childhood.  Have we forgotten that season?  It's a really short season too.  When I was a kid I wanted to do a lot of different things that my parents said no to because it wasn't in my best interest (like drive a car at the age of 12, jump out of the tree onto a pillow, or eat only cereal for a month straight).  We are the parents, we know what's best for them.  It is important to give kids an opportunity to try different things.  That's true.  It's also important for them to be a kid.  My husband was a Division 1 college athlete in a sport he didn't start until late high school.

 We ARE over scheduled. All of us.  Even my family at times.  It seems to almost be a badge of honor to some of us. "You think your over scheduled?  What about this..."  And then we don't understand why we are stressed out and overwhelmed.  It is SUCH a part of this culture that I'm not joking I feel GUILTY when I'm not over scheduled.  When I hear other moms complain about their schedule and I spent the afternoon just hanging and playing with the kids, I feel REALLY guilty!!!  That's not right!

So from here on out, I will not feel guilty.  I will rejoice in the time I have with my kids.  I will read a book.  I will say no and smile as I set the table for a family dinner (maybe they will even eat the vegetables tonight).  What about you?