Issue date: 4/27/2006
With three school age daughters, I have instituted a very straightforward rule in my house: one activity per kid.
Well, it’s really one activity per kid per season. There are a couple of additional caveats, like when the end of one sport season overlaps with the next, which means there might be two sports at a time for any (or all) of the kids. But only for a short time, a couple of weeks max.
Okay, so maybe my rule is not so clear-cut. There are more than a few confusing dilemmas here. Does playing a musical instrument count as an activity? Instrument lessons run year round and if you count that then your kids can’t play any sports and sports are essential because if your kids don’t play sports then the experts say that they will end up anti-social, overweight and addicted to more than just an endorphin high.
Also, if your kids haven’t participated in a sport or activity before they’ve lost their baby teeth, they’ve pretty much missed the boat on being the next Mia Hamm or Eric Chavez or even playing for the high school team. (A friend of mine’s son was told at eight that he was too old to start playing baseball for Alameda Little League.) And if your child is involved in dance or the theatre, how do you count that as a season?
Because I did not have the opportunity to play sports before high school, I wholeheartedly support my girls hitting the field or the court. (Yes, I am showing my age here, I was a kid in the pre-Title IX era.) However, having threefold multiple activities makes Mom, Mom, Mom crazy. I use up precious fuel running kids all over town, not to mention the time and expenses usurped for each of the individual pursuits. Just trying to keep all the schedules straight is a full-time occupation.
If this is crazy making for me, I sometimes wonder, what is it doing to my kids? I know they are benefiting from playing sports and getting involved. But when is their busy schedule too much? My nine-year old faked a sore throat during Spring break to get out of soccer practice. She stayed home all day puttering around in her pajamas and robe, happy as a clam. When our neighbor invited her to jump on their trampoline later in the afternoon, her illness was miraculously cured and she gladly accepted. As I watched her joyously bounce around, I realized that she faked a sick day, but loved her sense of freedom and every happy cry of “Mom, Mom, Mom, watch me jump!”