As September approaches, my two oldest children are reminding me to enrol them for judo. I will. They enjoy the sport, put a lot of energy into it, learn a lot of skills, and get a huge amount of exercise. The price is very reasonable for four hours a week, and the drive takes 5 minutes, return. This is the third year they’re taking judo.
Another child takes gymnastics, at the same place. This will be her second year.
The three oldest children will also attend some church classes and get-togethers.
The little two, like their siblings 2 and 3 years ago, are enrolled in nothing. Absolutely nothing. (Gasp!) Yes, we’re extreme, perhaps, compared to the average family which seems to be out and about all the time, but we have discovered some advantages to doing less:
The children have time just to be and just to play, especially when they are young.
The older ones have more time to follow their own, unstructured interests.
Because they started their chosen activity when they were at least 10, they are not bored by it but enjoy and appreciate it.
Because they are enrolled in one activity, they can really concentrate on it and master it. Anything done well gives joy; anything done poorly leaves a niggling unhappiness behind.
There is more time for family suppers and evenings together.
My husband and I don’t have to spend our evenings and Saturdays juggling schedules and ferrying the children around. We, too, have more of a chance just to be…and this is good for busy adults as well as for children. (Not that it always works out since there’s so much that needs doing; but at least there’s a theoretical possibility that it could.)
We spend less on enrolment fees and gas.
Deciding how many formal outside activities to include is a decision each family has to make for each child, every season again. Of course, as children grow older they need to spread their wings, although even they still need lots of free time to decompress. On the other hand, many little ones in North America are over-programmed, leading to stress in their young lives as well as in their families.
I encourage you to reconsider the fifth, the fourth, the third, and perhaps even the second activity each of your children is planning to be involved in this fall. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
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