This Is What Your Weekends Could Look Like If Your Kids Quit Sports
There were years when all my kids played sports and I felt like we never spent quality time together as a family.
My teens and I make homemade pizza every Friday night. There’s usually an extra friend that stops by and spends the night. I’ll find myself whipping up a batch of frozen cookie dough or popcorn before I go to bed because they usually sneak downstairs to watch a scary movie. We all look forward to just relaxing and hanging out.
When I go to bed, I know I don’t have to get anyone up in the morning for anything. There’s no schedule for the next two days, and weekends are unstructured time to relax. My teens can sleep in as late as they want. I have time alone to enjoy a quiet house and do some things. Once everyone is up, we typically get together with family and friends, go shopping, out to eat, or head to the movies.
We get to do this because my kids don’t play sports on the weekends.
All of my kids used to play sports. For a few years, all of them were in basketball. Then my son joined the ski team, which meant as a family, we had to divide and conquer to try to make it to all the games and his skiing events.
There were years when my daughter played lacrosse, and my son played baseball. Not only did I rarely see them, but I also didn’t have a moment to myself between trying to manage two practices every day after school and weekends filled with games and day-long tournaments.
I encouraged all my kids to play sports, and there was a time when I thought my son would be a lifelong sports player. We once spent any entire Memorial Day weekend watching him play ball. I thought, Okay, this is fun.
We both met new people, he gained confidence, and we continued to schedule our lives around sports. It wasn’t until my kids stopped loving sports that I considered our lives would be different than many of my friends.
They each came to me during different years in middle school and high school and told me they didn’t want to play sports any longer. Things had gotten too competitive. They felt like they had zero downtime, and as my oldest put it, “I just need some time to do… nothing.”
I didn’t just throw my hands up and say, “Okay, go ahead and quit the team if you want.” I talked to them about the time and money invested. I reminded them how much they used to love it, and for a little while, I made them continue to play. It didn’t take long to see how miserable they were, and I remember sitting at one of my daughter’s lacrosse games, thinking, Why are we doing this? She hates it. Her siblings hate spending their Saturdays like this. We could be at the beach right now, making better memories.
That was it for me. After that, I gave my kids the freedom to choose for themselves. After all, this was their life, not mine. And while this way of life works for many families, it wasn’t for us. I’ve never regretted it, either.
Nowadays, we rarely we miss having family dinners together. I’m not spending anyone’s birthday at an all-day sporting event or the entire weekend in my car going from game to game. Our weekends and nights belong to us. My kids are happy to go to sporting events and cheer on their friends and peers, but they don’t feel like they are missing out on a thing or that they gave up on anything. But most importantly, my kids are happier now that they don’t play sports. As their mom, that's the only thing I care about.
Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing, she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.