A few days ago, my partner and I were talking with a neighbor whose son is 18 months older than ours, and he revealed that his son is now enrolled in karate and soccer which takes up two evenings and Saturday morning each week. I came to the realization that this too could be happening for us very soon.
I’m not ready for my son’s activities to ramp up just yet. I love our evenings after work and school where we play together. Oftentimes, I am the one that cooks for my family. I really enjoy it when my son slides the step stool over to the kitchen counter and brings a couple of his cars to play with as I cook. I occasionally scold him for touching the food when I know he hasn’t yet washed his hands. I let him smell the spices I use. I ask him to help me count the number of cups or teaspoons of whatever it is I am measuring. These are all moments that I treasure.
I know that this age of 2-going-on-3 years old will not last forever. He will eventually not care to count teaspoons with me. He will gain other interests such as karate or soccer or quite possibly something else that might require a uniform, fees, and weekends free. I will not discourage such interests. But I hope that I can teach him to value his free time as well, and that sometimes too many activities can clutter your schedule as well as drain the wallet and leave you frazzled.
Before you conclude that I am against organized activities for my son or for kids in general, I will say that I was involved with the Girl Scouts as a young girl, and absolutely loved it. And when I was in junior high, I started playing in the band and absolutely loved that, too. I made the decision, however, to quit the Girl Scouts so that band was my only extra-curricular activity. I worry about kids these days that have so much to do that they don’t have time to do homework or to simply be kids with unstructured play time.
At this point in my life, I am saying ‘no’ to certain requests of my time because I think it is important to focus on the things you absolutely love and not spend time on the things that you might like just a little bit, or, even worse, things that you don’t like at all. Saying ‘no’ is hard, but it is getting easier for me. All I need to do is remember the things that I value the most and moments like sharing the smells of spices with a two year old.