Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Year's Slowdown

The holidays were a blast but there's some relief in pressing the reset button.  Closets are being cleaned out, salads are back on the menu, we've locked up the liquor cabinet and people around here are actually exercising on a regular basis. We're buckling back down with work and school and all the kids' activities are back in full swing.

While things are speeding up again and we're getting back on a schedule (which I love...I truly love a schedule almost more than cheese) I've made an important New Year's resolution I intend to keep.


I move through life pretty fast. I think most parents do. Besides work, and the business of raising kids (everything from bedtime to homework to meal prep to getting the kids to swimming lessons to imparting wisdom when your daughter is crushed because a classmate told her he hates girls) there's a lot of other crap that sucks our time down the drain. Running a household, volunteering, keeping some semblance of a social life and any additional activities like working out or being creative whether it's writing, painting or sewing. Then there's that 5 minutes a day we all squeeze in to drink a cup of coffee or read something for pleasure.  If we're lucky.

I don't want to live this way anymore. I felt the impact of this rushed existence when I sat down outside my daughter's dance class to read a book (which I will not name, as not to slander it) about making use of the tiny bits of extra time you get when waiting in the carpool line or at 5:45 a.m. before your toddler awakes.  NO WAY!  How is that okay?  I don't want to squeeze my life into tiny fragments of leftover time.

So it's time to clear the decks.  Little D won't be signing up for karate even though she's begging us...why?  She already takes ballet and gymnastics.  Maybe she can try karate in the summer when gymnastics takes a break. New rule for the kids -- "No more than two scheduled after school activities"  Why?  This leaves plenty of time for play dates, playtime and family time. Big A won't be taking basketball lessons...he already has swimming and karate.  He can play b-ball whenever the mood strikes outside at the net with his dad.  Done. 

 I just realized that limiting each of our kids to two scheduled lessons per week not only saves times time, it saves money!  And it leaves plenty of time for spontaneity.  Building with legos, playing with action figures, drawing, creating and imagining in their very own homes.  Not to mention resting from their action packed days at school.

And de-scheduling goes for me as well. I don't think I'll be making every church council or scout leaders meeting. I've asked another mom to cover a few Sunday School classes for me.  "Just say no" might be my new battle cry when it comes to being any more involved unless it's something about which I am truly passionate.   I want to focus during the day and get my work done so that when my kids are present, I can truly be present for my kids.

Giving up some of these superfluous activities leaves precious, blessed room!  Room to watch a movie together as a family or space for that good friend you haven't seen in a while to come over for dinner  (and see the kids!)  That sounds way better than going to a boring committee meeting or driving your son to yet another activity that clogs up his already tight schedule.

As long as I have all the stress of having small children, I want to really relish the enjoyment they bring as well.  And don't get me wrong. I want to make things available to them.  I want to encourage my son's love of swimming and support him in attaining his black belt. I'm fully willing to drive little D, our gymnastics dynamo, 20 minutes away once a week so she can perfect her cartwheel.  But I'm not going overboard because this frantic, face-paced life that's become the norm so for many of us is just not working for my family. 

Time is zooming past me so quickly. It's already a new year. Time to slow down and really savor it as much as I can.

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