Whenever I’m talking with a group of women these days … whether it’s over coffee with some friends, at church, at a school function, or on the sidelines at a sporting event … I hear the same thing. One after another reels off a schedule that’s packed to the bursting point, listing all the activities the kids are in, and how much effort goes into making sure that either they or their husbands can be here to pick up one child, there to deliver another, over here for some event, over there for another. Time and time again, they sigh and describe their lives as “crazy busy.”
What troubles me is that they act as though it’s a good thing. And as I get older, I’ve come to realize it’s not.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t live our lives to the fullest. Experiences and activities are good things, because they help us and our children grow as people. They bring us around others and allow us to build relationships. Many of the activities are great for kids, because they strengthen self-confidence and self-reliance.
But when we schedule so many activities that neither we nor our kids can stop and breathe … and just take a moment or two to appreciate the miracle of life … we do a lot of damage to ourselves, our relationships and even our bodies. We aren’t taking the time to get to know each other at a more meaningful level, and we aren’t sharing the moments that create the memories we’ll cherish for decades to come. We’re getting less sleep, and as a result we aren’t as focused and ready to make sound decisions.
Often, parents think they’re helping their kids by encouraging them to take on multiple activities. The kids may not want to do the activities, but they go along because they assume it’s what you want them to do. I’ve sat in too many family counseling sessions where a teenager blurts out how much they hate having to do a particular activity, and the parents are stunned. Nobody ever talked about it … they just made incorrect assumptions.
Saying that children grow up faster than we realize may be trite, but that’s because it’s so very true. Your seven-year-old daughter is going to be in college before you know it, and moments after that, she’ll have a family and a life of her own. These are the years you need to embrace, because they won’t last otherwise. If you want your kids to become mentally healthy, well-adjusted adults, now is when you need to show them what’s really important. Instead of adding stress to their lives, we need to show them how to find peace and joy in simple things, during the quiet times.
We really don’t have to run in twenty directions. We can take a quiet walk in the woods together. Spend an evening playing board games. Sit around a fire and tell them stories from our childhood, or share the funny stories from our parents’ and grandparents’ lives. Bake cookies together. Find a craft we both enjoy. Buy a colorful 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle and spread it out on a card table. When we’re in your 70s, we may not remember the day Sophia shot two three-pointers or Ethan blocked four goals, but I promise that we’ll remember and treasure those quieter moments together … and so will they. Think it’s too late for you to do that? It’s not. Call us and let us help you find the way to where you want things to be.