Watch out folks, Mama’s stepping out of the mini-van. That’s right, you’ll no longer find me schlepping all over town at ridiculous hours of the day. How did I pull off this ambitious feat without selling my three kids? I staged an extra-curricular crackdown! If you’re overwhelmed by your kids’ schedule, I urge you to join me.
#1. No more classes at inconvenient times. Nap time is sacred. I don’t care if the Queen Bee from Mommy and Me with the non-napping kid convinced the whole gang to register for a 1PM music class next quarter. Stay home and take advantage of the peace and quiet. This wisdom also applies to full-time working parents who’ve been suckered into evening classes. Sing some catchy songs during dinner and clap your hands a few times. You’ll skip the 6PM fiasco at the actual class.
#2. No more driving out of your way. If there’s a perfectly good soccer league in your park district, but you’re driving thirty-minutes during what should be a relaxing weekend morning to be with “everybody else,” ask yourself whether that’s a good use of your precious time. Whatever you decide about the best location for your family, remember this crucial nugget: in an extra-curricular crackdown, there’s . . .
#3. No more picking activities based on your friends. Who is this so-called “everybody” anyway? Your friendships will survive your independence. And let’s be honest, parents spend a good portion of the bleacher time on their Blackberries or chasing after the younger sibling(s) who got dragged along. Carve out quality time to see your friends. Sure, some people will disappear now that you watch ballet or swimming class through a different window, but those people weren’t your real friends in the first place.
#4. No more picking activities based on your kids’ friends. We have to stop projecting our social anxiety onto our kids. If choosing the time of day and location that works for you means your child won’t know a soul in the class, then to that I say: So what!? Kids’ friendships ebb and flow. Those little buggers are consistently fickle. Don’t let your family’s schedule be dictated by your child’s flavor of the day.
#5. No more secretly hoping you gave birth to the next superstar. We sacrifice our time, money, energy, and depleting resources of sanity so we can feel proud of our ourselves–I mean, our kids. Even if we’ve accepted that our child isn’t going to be the next pre-scandal Tiger Woods, we justify the over-programming by insisting we want our kids to have hobbies. I want my kids to have hobbies, too. But I hope they’ll come by some of those interests naturally. For free. And within walking distance of our house.
#6. Remember: money doesn’t grow on trees and neither do hockey skates. It’s good for kids to understand there are other people in the house (and, um–the world) with wants and needs. In fact, the astronomical cost of activities is reason enough to scale back right away. Why should it be that you don’t get out on Saturday nights or go on a vacation for fifteen years, but little Riley has sampled art, karate, gymnastics, and T-Ball in one semester? It’s not right. Take a stand.
So who’s with me? Let’s pull over our mini-vans, raise our hands in unity, and take back the day. And the night! And the weekend! Let the crackdown begin.