“Please, please, can I skip ballet? Pretty please?!?!” a little voiced breathed in my ear. That’s how I got woken up this past Saturday at 6:30 am. By, my daughter, begging to skip ballet.
It’s not that she doesn’t like ballet. She loves ballet. She loves becoming more flexible, she loves the teacher, she loves being a “big girl” and using the barre in class.
She continued, “It’s just that I have tutoring, then I have to rush to ballet, then there’s swimming. I just want time to be at home.”
My first instinct? To say no. We pay a lot of money for ballet classes and I want to make sure my daughter understands the importance of a commitment. But, then I really thought about what she was asking. She was essentially begging for some down time. She was telling me she felt over scheduled and overwhelmed.
I’m not one of those parents who puts my kids in a million activities. With 3 kids and 2 working parents, that’s just never been a possibility. I also have really tried hard not to schedule every minute of every day for them. I know that kids need down time. But, somehow, our Saturdays have become an endless excursion of children’s activities – ballet, tennis, swimming, guitar, hip hop, coding.
We have the means to pay for these lessons and as many parents desire, we want for our kids to find their passion. I doubt that my kids are going to be USTA level tennis players. But, for now, our 8 year old draws pictures of tennis rackets and balls and says it’s his favorite sport (objectively, he really isn’t that good yet). So, we sign up for what they’re interested in and gradually Saturday has become a day that my husband and I somewhat dread. It takes a Herculean amount of planning to figure how to get 3 kids with simultaneous activities to different parts of the island. It’s exhausting for us. And, it’s exhausting for our kids to run from place to place.
The busyness of the weekend is usually worse than the work week. As a family, we need time to rest and recharge, and our weekends have not been allowing time for that.
So, I said yes to my daughter’s request. Because at the end of the day, I’ve already paid for the ballet lessons. I can’t think of it as losing $35 or whatever the lesson costs. That money is already spent. Instead, I chose to think about it as capturing a different kind of moment for her.
She squealed with delight and announced she would like to do my makeup and hair with her new found time. We had a wonderful, leisurely Saturday morning of mommy-daughter time.
And, it was exactly what we both needed.
I’m realizing that I’ve been underestimating and undervaluing the time we need to just BE together as a family. Not running from activity to activity. And, I’m also coming to understand that I may just be hooked on an overscheduled lifestyle.
So, my fix? Next weekend, I’m making sure to add in chunks of unscheduled time to give us all time to decompress. Scheduling unscheduled time – is that an oxymoron? I’ll let you know how it goes!