"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Downsize: Part II

Time. I'm always saying it feels like my worst enemy. How quickly I can look up and realize that a week has passed or three, or even a couple of months. Weren't we just doing Christmas and now donning swimming suits and sun screen?

When I began this family journey, I had all sorts of plans. I wanted to pull up a chair in the driveway and watch children ride bikes. I wanted to play kickball in the yard as the sun sank over the trees. I wanted early morning walks with my kids. I wanted boardgames and puzzles on rainy afternoons.

What happened?

It crept in slowly, I think. First child was old enough to learn a musical instrument and off we went. Second would be so cute in a spring sport though he couldn't even read. Flash forward thirteen years and every child has their interest and that's saying nothing of the scouting, church night activities, school plays, musicals, councils and clubs each is involved in.

And so we come to Downsize: Part II. Yes, Downsize: Part I has really freed up life. It's amazing how quickly we can clean up a de-junked house and that leaves way more time to spend together. But, the other cluttered part of life has heretofore been the cram in of more activities than one mom can handle.

For instance --- this is the one that pushed me literally over the edge -- middle school track.

We'd just concluded a middle school musical, were in the midst of an elementary school play, wrapping up basketball, finishing ballet, still swimming in prep for summer swim team, 4H picking up for the summer projects ... and so on and so forth, and she brought me the track form. I was really, really ready for a break but that "all my friends are in it together" thing got to me because she's my oldest and eldest often have to do a lot for families and sometimes their needs can get a little overlooked. I tried to envision us wearing our Derby hats and eating fried chicken on the green grass in the pleasant sunshine as we watched our girl run. And so, I let her sign up for the track team.

It was miserable. It rained every meet. I was always late. Sometimes events were cancelled. And one very, very cold afternoon I stood jumping up and down for warmth as the baby in the stroller cried and the children I'd brought with me had crawled up under said stroller to find any shelter from the wind ... I broke. Enough is enough and this was not what it's all about.

See, all this time I've been telling myself that each child was involved in just one thing and that was working well. But ... then it started not working to the point that I couldn't get by some afternoons without calling in back up. I do so love a man who can sit me down and set me straight when I've gone off course. One evening, he brought to my attention all that we really were doing and it looked something like this:

Whoa! Each child with every little involvement was bleeding me dry!

Then we put down our goals for our children and moved each activity on the above list to show the goal that it supported:

Wouldn't you know it? Not much of what the kids were doing fed into the goals?

Now, I'm a little hardheaded and for me, it's really difficult to give some things up once I've sunk so much time and energy into them. But with the onset of summer and the wrap up of so many activities, there's been so much more time to enjoy each other. Let me tell you, it's nice. Would I give up the involvement in all of the activities to be more involved in the lives these people I love so much? You bet.

So, back to Downsize: Part II -- undertaking less extracurriculars will give more time to create quality relationships built through meaningful family activities. I'm sold on it now more than ever. Especially after our relaxing beach vacation where we just soaked each other in. There's good stuff ... and there's great stuff. Now, that doesn't mean I'm ready to have the kids give up everything. But, we definitely need a better balance and a huge scale back ... and I'm so ready to celebrate the great stuff of life with my favorite people on earth. The only trick left is to sell it to the kids ...


  1. That spreadsheet was nearly too much! I laughed my head off. Adam is always producing a spreadsheet and showing me how something in my life is helter-skelter.

  2. He's so darn analytical! I have to admit at first I was chaffed by his methods but after letting it sit for awhile, he was right. On paper it looks plain awful.

  3. LOL about the spreadsheet! But what an awesome way to be able to look at it all. Funny thing is, I just blogged about much the same thing. http://crayzdaze.blogspot.com/2010/06/floating-back-to-sanity.html

  4. PS--the spring track experience sounds awful!!

  5. Thanks for this post. I've always felt a little selfish and guilty for not letting my kids get involved in everything they could. I'm a much better mom when I'm not run ragged trying to fill a bunch of commitments on my calendar. I hope my kids won't look back and think they were jipped. Hopefully they will have loved the time spent with their family.