I can clearly remember thinking to myself, “Dang, Kaia. You may have screwed up a lot today, but at least you got this bedtime thing down!” It would be 7:00p.m., and we would hold our breath as we army crawled from their bedroom floors, praying they wouldn’t wake up. Then we’d high-five each other, make gigantic bowls of ice cream, and plop in front of the t.v. to watch Desperate Housewives (my choice, not Joel’s). This was when we had four kids under the age of four. Our house was run on a strict schedule. (Those were also the glory days when I could consume massive amounts of ice cream every night with no negative side effects to my body, but I digress.) The kids were fed, napped, and went to bed at the same time every day. I felt like I had the daily routine down pat in those days.
Newsflash: 7:00p.m. bedtime only lasts so long.
It was around the time my oldest started preschool and joined a t-ball team, that the schedule I was so proud of maintaining, started to get a little more complicated. Then I blinked: Fast forward to ten years later. T-ball practice has turned into travel basketball and club soccer. There never seems to be a night when there is not a practice or a game. Most evenings we’re not home until after 9:00p.m. The schedule (which is really more like a spreadsheet these days) has become very full. Ok, I’ll be honest- it’s a little too full. It’s actually blown up, and so does my head every morning when I look at the calendar, as I try to figure out how I can clone myself by 4:00p.m. I know most parents are feeling the same way.
All this chasing the clock has got me thinking. I’ve started to develop a little love/hate relationship with competitive sports. Ok. There, I said it. Don’t get my wrong, sports are important and a big deal in my family. There are definitely many advantages of kids being a part of a team. My kids have learned some invaluable lessons through competitive sports, and I absolutely love cheering them on while they play. However, it’s just so easy to get caught up in it all, and forget that kids need down time to just be kids. I’ll even take it a step further and say, families need down time to just be families. I don’t want to be teaching my kids, consciously or not, that sports activities come before everything else. They should not think soccer is what they are living for.
I want my kids to look back on their childhood and smile when they remember the feeling they had on the night they won the championship game. But I also hope they remember the nights we chose to do nothing, but just be together. I hope they remember some lazy weekends of not even caring to check what time it is. I want them to remember making homemade ice cream with their dad on a Saturday afternoon. I hope they remember the time I said, “Ok”, when they asked if they could go out on the lake at midnight with their friends. They had a blast, and I have to admit, so did I just watching them.
I guess what I’m saying is, I’m going to make a conscience effort to slow our lives down once in a while. It’s ok to wipe the schedule clean sometimes, even if the world is telling us it’s not. I want to look at my kids and really pay attention to the things they are talking about, without always thinking about all the places we have to be that night. Sometimes it’s okay to reevaluate our goals if they got sidetracked along the way and don’t measure up with our values. I’m not sure why we’re always running, or who we’re even running from. Life is not a race. Easier said than done, but I’m trying to remember that.