I'll never be one of those overscheduled moms. The kind that spends her afternoons in her minivan shuttling kids from activity to activity and every weekend on the sidelines of a sports field cheering someone on before doing more shuttling. I'll never be one of those moms. That's what I used to tell myself. I mean, I am the "Dolphin Parent"! Just hanging out in our dolphin pod, right? RIGHT?
Then this spring happened. And between ballet and tennis and lacrosse and horseback riding we have one afternoon free. One. And one weekend day. Most afternoons both of the older kids have activities, so there I am, dropping one off and picking one up, driving back over to pick up the other one, doing snacks in the car on the way.
I am the overscheduled mom of my judgmental nightmares. But I didn't do it on purpose! It just sort of...happened.
First off, these activities are all things the kids want to do, things they asked to do. I definitely did not push them into any of these things. And even when the schedule started filling up, I didn't feel like I should say no, if they expressed interested and a true desire to do it, who am I to stifle that? Do I think my six year old will be the next Martina Navratilova because she takes tennis lessons? No. But I do think tennis is great exercise and being outside in the fresh air hitting the ball back and forth over the net isn't a bad way to spend the afternoon, so we signed up.
And it couldn't be more true that the older the kids get, the more the schedule gets wildly out of control. My oldest is only 8 and his lacrosse program is three days a week. Three! And the practices go until 7:30! That used to be his bedtime. Parent friends of older kids just laugh at me like, "You haven't seen anything yet". And it worries me, if it's already this busy, does it just explode once they're in high school? Will I ever see the outside of my minivan again?
But the flipside is, if he's interested, and has expressed a desire to try it, you have to just try it. That little voice in the back of my slightly competitive head whispers, "Well he had better start now, because look at how many other kids will start lacrosse in third grade, and if he doesn't start this year, he'll be behind...". Sometimes I tell that little voice to shut up, sometimes I say go for it. I have this weird anxiety that if I make them skip whatever it is they want to try they'll be less motivated to try something in the future. It's FOMO for the elementary school set. The fear of missing out on being on the team.
So there I am on the sidelines of a lacrosse field after having picked up my daughter from riding, half wishing we were just at home eating dinner together and half excited to see my son trying out something new that he really loves.
Will I go back to my Dolphin Pod Parenting? We'll see what happens after the spring...
What about you guys? Do you feel overscheduled? Do you feel like there is an alternative or do you worry about them "missing out"?