I want to start this post with a warning/confession: my only child is only 20 months, so in some ways, the following words are coming from a still-fresh new mom who still has the mental capacity to be idealistic about the way she’ll raise her kiddos. And therefore, this is why I’m saying “no” to all the extracurricular activities.
That being said, this one is a pretty important ideal, for me.
I don’t want my kids involved in all the every extracurricular activities. I want them to be bored. I want them to choose the things that are most important, and focus on those. And we, as a family, want to make our faith and our family the most important of all.
RELATED READING :: In Praise of Stepping Away From Extra Activities
“Idle hands are the devil’s tools.” Sure, this may be true. I know that for me, growing up, being involved in 3 sports, and choir, and musical theater, and AP classes, and youth group, and, and, and… may have kept me out of trouble. Maybe the reason I didn’t go to parties, get drunk, or do drugs, or whatever… was because I just didn’t have the time.
But I also didn’t have the time to rest. I still, as a nearly 30 year old woman, don’t know how to rest well. I like lists, I like busy-ness, I like flurries of activity and feeling productive. That doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I frequently feel my mind racing and hopping to all the things I could/should be doing when I try to make myself sit and pray, or read, or rest in a way that doesn’t involve a TV show, or social media, or some other form of distraction. I am anxious whenever I don’t have things for my hands/mind/body to be doing because I’ve taught myself to always be involved in something. And it has definitely contributed to physical and emotional and mental issues.
So instead, I envision a different childhood, at least, for my kids.
A childhood that actually allows them to be children. That allows them to be bored, sometimes, and create games and make up stories. (PS I totally look forward to the day my daughter tells me she’s “bored” so I can tell her all the chores that need doing.)
A childhood that involves sitting around the table for dinner, going for walks together as a family, and praying together.
I want us to be able to take a vacation together without feeling like we’re missing 1000 extracurricular activities including, sports/clubs/meetings/whatever. I’d love to be able to take them for a few weeks to my parents’ house in northern MI in the summer, or to south Texas to my in-laws, or on a mission trip… which we wouldn’t be able to do if everyone is involved in all the things.
I want them to learn responsibility, and hard work, and team work, too — which is why, of course, I want them to be involved in SOMETHING.
I just don’t want them involved in EVERYTHING.
This also means learning to choose the thing that they’re most passionate about. To make decisions, and stick to them. I think part of the reason I was involved in so much was not because I really felt intrigued or loved all of them (ahem, golf), but I wanted to feel involved and important and useful and … included. So I want them to learn they are those things – important, loved, and can be helpful – in the light of family, and in the light of being children of God.
As an afterthought, I wrote this post before all this COVID craziness began around here. It seems even more pertinent now, as we’ve suddenly all been made to give up all the activities. So we are learning to rest. We are learning to be bored and what to do with that boredom. We, as a family, are going for a walk around the neighborhood; praying; playing music together. And even though our 15 month old doesn’t have “activities” she’s involved in, we as a family certainly do, and we will be re-evaluating what we want to return to and what we want to leave out when we’re able to.
What are you doing with your kids (and your own) boredom during this crazy time?
Photo Credit :: Lindsay Herkert Photography