I'm Dialing Back The Busy And Reclaiming Our Weekends

by Jorrie Varney
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It’s Sunday afternoon, and I’m sitting outside soaking up the sun while my kids play in the yard. It’s simple, but easily one of my favorite pass times. I’m a homebody, so being here with my family is where it’s at for me. We aren’t doing anything of particular interest to make this weekend remarkable, but sometimes doing nothing is remarkable all on its own. I’m pro nothing. In fact, my family and I do nothing as often as possible.

Lately it seems being busy is a competition, and if you aren’t busy or constantly exhausted, you must be doing something wrong. Why aren’t your kids in at least 30 different activities? Don’t you want them to be social?

Listen, Carol, my kids are in elementary school; they aren’t running for Congress. They don’t need a five-alarm social life. They see their friends five days a week at school—they are social AF by my standards.

It’s not that they aren’t involved in any extracurricular activities, because they are, but we try to keep them at a manageable level. I have no desire to fill my evenings with practice, social events, and volunteer activities. I don’t want a chronic case of bleacher butt from sitting through tournament, after tournament, after tournament.

There seems to be no middle ground for sports anymore. You are either traveling to tournaments every weekend or you aren’t playing at all. What about the kids who want to play sports, but not eat, sleep, and breathe them? Why does it have to be balls to the wall or nothing at all? Tournaments every week? Constant traveling? Are they playing baseball or touring with Justin Timberlake? I just don’t want that — not for them, and not for me.

I hold nothing against families who live this life and love it, because to each their own, but there is nothing wrong with taking life as it comes and reserving as much time as possible for doing nothing. Because it’s not just nothing, it’s time together, it’s time to read a good book, or try a new recipe. It’s time to build a fort in the woods, or ride bikes until the sun goes down. It’s taking naps, and going out for late night ice cream. It’s about not scheduling your time—just taking it easy and truly enjoying it. No schedule means we are free to do what we want, either together or separately.

My husband and I work outside the home, and our kids attend public school. As it stands we are busy 40 hours a week, and our evenings tend to be a blur of homework, dinner, and bath time. We need unstructured, unscheduled time to relax, and I’ll take as much of it as we can get. I’m selective about our social calendar—I don’t say yes to every invite, and I don’t feel guilty about it. When it comes to attending a social event for someone I barely know or spending time with my family, my family wins every time.

I wish there were enough hours in the day to do it all, but there just aren’t. We can’t do it all, and trying to is exhausting for everyone.

I won’t sign my kids up for dance, soccer, baseball, karate, and piano lessons just to keep up with the Joneses. There’s no reason to cram all that life has to offer into the first 18 years. Kids need time to be kids. I want them to be free to do all the things they enjoy, not just a few of them. I want them to explore their curiosities, and find their true passion. Maybe that passion will be weekend tournaments, and evenings spent practicing their favorite sport. And if that’s what they choose, I will fully support them, but I’m not pushing them into it.

I read somewhere that there are only 936 Saturdays from the time your child is born until they leave for college. That may seem like a lot, but if I’ve learned anything from my friends with older kids, it’s that time flies. Spend your time doing what fulfills you and makes you all happy. For us, that’s spending as many weekends as we can doing nothing.

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