Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Under-Scheduled Family

School is almost back in session, with its demands for supplies and uniforms and backpacks and lunchboxes. I've missed the Tennessee sales tax event and Lands End's offer of free shipping so I'll be paying full price plus tax, and given how long I've let things go, expedited shipping. But I'm OK with that. What I'm resisting is choosing among extracurricular activities. More specifically, choosing only the essential extracurriculars. Because basically? I don't want my kids to do anything extra. School is enough.

Don't get me wrong, I would love for my children to be soccer stars or piano prodigies. Swim team sounds great. So does tumbling. And I admire my friends who keep their kids in productive activities. But honestly, I hardly see my children as it is. Scheduling an evening extracurricular means no dinner time together and no snuggling or reading before bed. In a family with two parents who work full-time, choosing an extracurricular requires sacrificing a necessity. Art classes? Terrific, but no baths. Gymnastics? Fun, but there will be no clean clothes. Diving classes? Great, but sleep is not an option.

So I'm culling the extracurricular wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Music is important, so for my eldest, we'll try soon to fit in a lesson and some practices. Playing a team sport is excellent training physically and emotionally, especially for girls, so we'll find a soccer team that's not too demanding time-wise. And because I lost my mind last spring and agreed to be a Brownies troop leader, Girl Scouts will fit in somewhere.

But that's it. We've got chickens and a yard. We've got a big river to watch and friends and family to see. We've got a dog. We've got limited time together and what's important--reading, dreaming, planning, talking, playing--can't be accomplished without downtime.

So I'm deliberately under-scheduling my family this fall. If you need to reach us, we'll be around most evenings. I'll be listening to my family and enjoying the time I have with them.

Stop by; we'll have time to talk.

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