Friday, June 28, 2013

Overscheduled kids

I always hear stories about how kids are overscheduled these days.  Too many lessons, practices, and other activities and not enough free time to just play, and lots of time spent driving around in the car.  This week I experienced it, and hope to not experience it again.  At least not for a looong time.  As part of a plan to not overschedule my kids during the school year, I let each child choose one activity to sign up for this summer.  My 5 year old chose a city sports camp where they go for 1 hour each day for 4 days and learn a different sport each day (soccer, baseball, basketball, and football).  My girls each chose a dance camp put on by the local theater, that was 2 hours each day for 5 days with a little performance on the last day.

I thought I was being clever by having both girls sign up for the same week.  Even though one would go in the morning and the other in the afternoon, I thought it would be better to have the girls go one week, and my boy go a few weeks later.  Ugggh.  What this really meant was that 4 times a day I was driving to the theater to drop off or pick up.  While hauling 4 other children around with me.  We went at 9:30, 11:30, 12:30 and 2:30.  I hated it and my kids hated it as well.  The first day, my 5 year old started throwing a fit at the last pick up.  "I don't want to go! I hate this!"  I had to agree with him.  After that first day, I decided we weren't going to do "school" for the week or worry about practicing piano.  I wanted them to be able to have time to play. 

I still am glad my girls went to the camp.  They had a blast! And I'm still glad we chose to do one week of dance camp rather than worrying about every week taking them to a practice during the school year (and paying for it every month).  But, wow, I'm recommitted to not overscheduling my kids as they get older.  If nothing else, there's no way I want to spend that much time in the car.  I can think of much more enjoyable and productive uses of my time.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Remember when...

Remember when...

You thought it was difficult to take your one child in a car seat to the grocery store
You could sit and quietly read as you constantly fed your first baby
Your child's pants didn't yet have holes in the knees
The nurses and doctors in the delivery room didn't quite respect your opinions
You worried when your baby got a runny nose
You made sure to keep the entire house quiet when the baby was taking a nap
You could fit other people in your car with your family
Your child watched Baby Einstein videos instead of Superhero Squad
You took 10 minute videos of your child breathing/smiling/giggling
You didn't have a routine
You could stay home all day when your child was sick
You wondered who really bought applesauce or bread or milk in bulk
You made sure your child's hands and face were always clean
When a toy/bottle/pacifier dropped on the ground, you took it home and sterilized it
Your crib didn't have teeth marks on the railings
Your stroller/high chair/exersaucer didn't have any stains/spills on it
You could own a white couch
You could sleep in if the baby had a rough night
Your house was quiet at times
You thought your sister's children were loud
You didn't understand the magical quiet of library day
You had time to iron and owned clothes that needed ironing
You could follow the advice of napping when your baby napped
People didn't even really notice when you walked into a store
You had time to completely fill out a baby book and document everything
You had a cute scrapbook for your baby instead of unprinted pictures on the computer

Remember when you didn't understand that the more children you have, the crazier life gets, but the more love that fills your heart and your house?

Friday, June 7, 2013

This motherhood stuff can be hard work

So, I came to a realization this week that this motherhood stuff can be hard work. Not that it always is, but it certainly can be.  I know. 5 children later and I'm just realizing this?

School got out for the summer this week. Really that means my 7 year old is now home all day with her 4 younger siblings.  Not that much of a change really. I decided I didn't want her to forget everything she's learned in 1st grade (although I'm pretty doubtful that could really happen, especially since she loves to read), so I decided to do "summer school" for all the kids. After quiet time each day (have I mentioned how much I love quiet time?), the kids get out their "journals". My 7 year old's is lined paper where she just has to write 4 sentences or so. The 5 year old draws a picture and tries to write about the picture.  The 4 year old draws a picture and I write what she tells me about it. The 2 year old scribbles all over a blank page and throws the crayons all over the place. I'm giving the 4 month old a reprieve from school. After journals, we do one activity for the day and the 2 older ones then practice their piano.  Monday we did handwriting/practicing letters, Tuesday was a math worksheet for each one, Wednesday we did an art project, Thursday we did a science experiment, and Friday we talked about a "social studies" topic.

We really only spend maybe 30 minutes tops on all of this, but man, it was hard work.  I'm a wimp, I know.  I gained even greater respect for my friends and family who homeschool their children.  I understand that usually they have a pre-set curriculum they follow, and their kids are probably a little bit older, but still.  Hard work.

One of the things I realized as I do this, is that I don't take very much time to be "actively involved" in my childrens' learning.  That doesn't mean I'm not teaching them.  I am.  But I don't think very much about what I want to teach them and how I should teach them.  I think I've been missing out a little bit.  I'm pretty good at letting them just play (which I think is also pretty darn important), and hoping I can get something done, like maybe sweep the floor, while everyone is occupied and getting along.  Managing the chaos can be hard, but it's not a purposefully difficult task.  It can be pretty easy to just let my children manage their own learning or let someone else teach them.  I'm not sure that's really want I want, though.  I've realized I need to spend some time deciding "What things do I want my children to learn and know" and then plan on what I'm going to do to help them learn this. Hard work. But so worth it.