Wednesday, November 14, 2012

extracurricular overload

We are enrolled in too many activities.

Aren't we?

I've always erred on the side of too few, have in fact sworn not to have more than one per kid at any given time. I've wondered at friends who are activity-full. So - how did we get here? It's uncertain, and they each are good ideas individually. Thing is, now I don't know how to undo it, or - interestingly - if I even want to.

On one hand, it keeps my house straighter. This is actually a huge plus for me, not just a nice side effect. When the kids aren't here to dump entire bins of superheros on the familyroom floor, we come home in the evening to clutter free-ish, which makes for a much calmer mom. Clutter makes me seriously anxious. There have been times when I've felt anxious and have wondered what in the world I'm anxious about - there was nothing obvious. Then I just straightened the house and the anxiety went away.

My husband doesn't see the clutter. He's not a hoarder or anything, he just isn't bothered by random clothing items heaped on the recliner. Once the piles grow to a certain size he would clean up I'm sure. But even the small ones make me nuts. I don't have many knick knacks, don't collect things, pass on books when I'm done with them unless they are signed or inscribed or something, but there's this pile of papers on one counter that grows like a mold. When the au pair was here she kept the dishes and obvious things clean, so I was free to deal with this asinine pile on the counter and others like it. One of my theories about my crazy happiness when she was here has to do with the decrease in clutter alone.

My newest idea is to drop one of my evening sitters and turn that money into one person who comes for maybe an hour 3 days a week.

But that's a different subject.

First both kids were in tennis because it was convenient. Then Frances added Irish Dance and that seemed reasonable. Then Clark wanted Karate and that also seemed fairly reasonable except that it's twice a week, but he's so absolutely nuts about it that I thought we would squeeze it in somehow. Then Frances wanted (at my suggestion) to try out Karate too, and she of course loves it because who wouldn't. And since Frances tried his class Clark thought he would try hers and now they're both in Irish Dance - both in all four activities each week. And one night a week they go with their sitter to her parents house, where they are regular members of that family.

All this leaves little time for the kids to argue (which makes me an insane person), or to wrestle until someone whacks their head on the floor (which makes me an insane person). It channels energy. This is good.

Plus I get to sit and read my book, as well as observe my children from afar, both of which are things I enjoy. And which help keep me sane.

But I'm aware that avoiding their conflicts is just convenience on my part, a sort of laziness. It's admittedly easier to keep them busy than to deal with the hollering and crying - the conflict that helps them learn how to deal with conflict. The only way to the other side is through, right? Is this why so many parents load up on the activities? Because - what it really comes down to - it's easier? It's like never taking them with you to the grocery. I have a friend with four boys and she takes all four of them with her on grocery trips. On purpose. She believes it's important for them to learn how to deal with boring everyday details like groceries, and that they need to learn how to behave in public, and it's okay for them to not always be entertained. The reward she receives for persevering with all four boys in tow is children who are pleasant to be around, and less work teaching them to behave later on.

At the same time, a sane mommy is a good thing.

It seems to me - logically - that it's really a toss up. That this decision for this minute of their lives really doesn't matter. But it sure feels like it does. Maybe that's just the obsessive mind talking.

Will see what happens. 

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