“Hurry up! We’re going to be late!” yells Mom.
“I can’t find my stuff and I’m hungry!” retorts the child.
“Well just grab a snack and come on! I have to drop your brother off at his practice too!”
Does this sound like a familiar conversation to you, especially at this time of the year? When you have kids, life can feel like a bit of a whirlwind at any time of the year, but it seems like from now until summer it gets super-crazy. Testing to wind up the school year, dance recitals, never ending sporting practices and events…..the list goes on. My family and I have been there and are there, to some extent, right now. This time last year our 10-year-old daughter was playing softball and involved in dance. We had two practices and a game each week for ball, plus recital practices and rehearsals, not to mention school. After that season was over, I decided that we did not want to relive that craziness and it made me question why I had ever let it happen in the first place.
I think we all desire to give our kids opportunities; opportunities we didn’t have, opportunities to experience new things, make new friends, gain new skills and hone in on talents. But on the other side of the coin, I find the general reaction from parents is that they feel too hurried, stressed out and ruled by their child’s schedule. Sometimes I think we forget that we are the parents. We make the major decisions and our kids follow our lead. Most importantly, what are we truly teaching them? That they should stay maxed out and be involved in as many activities as humanly possible? That they should miss one practice to be at another and never be able to give any of it their best? Are we teaching them that their worth lies in their busyness or how many trophies they have? Do we teach them that it’s ok to miss being part of their church family if it is for a sporting event?
The truth is that our children learn how to live life from us, which certainly includes how to spend their time, where to give their talents and what is truly important. Let’s challenge ourselves to help them make the hard decisions. Help them choose to be their best at the one sport they love versus being half-committed to two. Let’s help them value their time, as well as ours and their sibling’s. Let’s give them the chance to find out what it is like to have free time and play, dream and just be kids. This time in their lives (and ours) is so short and precious. Let’s take full advantage of the time and influence we have while they are young, to teach them about how to live life. Our influence is fleeting and is greater now than we will ever have again.