Thursday, March 25, 2010

full schedule

Right now our schedule is more full than it's ever been. And I've come to grips that we are just in a very busy time of life right now.

This week for the first time I wished for another driver's license in the family.

As I was camping out in my car on Tuesday running from Activity Days to gymnastics to soccer and feeling bad that I couldn't get Elle over to tennis, I realized that I should be doing the pick-up end of Max and his friend being dropped off at a basketball game. I called the other mom who had dropped them off and she assured me the boys were fine: her daughter had picked them up. Her daughter.

No problem.

Daughter saves the day.

And right then and there I felt this longing feeling. I want another driver! I started daydreaming about how great it would be to have Max run to the grocery store to grab the one thing I forgot for dinner. Or to send Elle to pick up a waiting child after a lesson when I have to be three different places at once.

Oh, it would be dreamy.

But wait, I do NOT want these kids to grow up!

Hmmm...but maybe I could hire a driver....

I feel kind of hypocritical these days. I've told myself for years: "enough is enough" and "kids need time to roam and be free...to use their imaginations...to be creative." I've always felt so darn sorry for kids who can never play because they're being bused about to and fro ... sports and music and drama...you name it.

And suddenly I just realized those are my kids ...the ones being carted all over kingdom come to do "stuff" and to be busy, and I am the mom, aiding in the busy-ness. I'm the one who hands over the checks and subconsciously makes the commitment to get them where they need to be when they need to be there.

I'm kind of bugged at my judgmental past self because I had no idea the backgrounds going into all that busy-ness I saw in those more mature families. I sat with my young kids surrounding me, hanging out with my friends doing crafts and projects all day. I simply didn't understand the balance those other busy families were finding, like mine is now. Did their husbands, like mine, vow when they were young that they would do anything they could to make it possible for their kids to try out new things? I didn't understand that as a parent of older kids you want to do all you can do to help those kids reach for whatever they may dream of someday becoming? I didn't understand some of the struggles that kids go through and I never thought that lessons and sports could really be a key in helping them.

BUT, there is a balance. I am sure of it. When things outside the home start to replace the most important things inside the home (family dinner, family prayer, Family Home Evening, basic togetherness), then it's just too much. The tightrope shouldn't be that thin. And then you re-evaluate.

Right now I'm re-evaluating.

The problem is that I don't want to trade watching my girls "spot" each other on the trampoline as they put all their new gymnastics tricks to work. I don't want to give up all the tennis Elle and Grace are doing. Elle loves it and it's a path to some fun things in the future for her, and I swear Grace is on the brink of loving it. Tennis is something we feel like we can do as a family forever, so we're in that one hook, line and sinker. And then there's crazy football for Max. Seriously, this league is a little nuts with all the time and requirements, BUT he loves it and without going into detail Dave and I both think this is so great for him right now (we are his experts, after all, and the weight of basketball and all that goes with that haw wrapped up). Then who would give up piano lessons? Can't go there. And then Elle and Grace have decided that soccer is their ultimate passion. They adore it. Then there's violin in school that has to be practiced for at home and scouts and other church stuff, and homework and practicing and reading and cleaning...where's the imagination development time? Where are the care-free days?

I've come to terms that the only solution to the craziness right now is getting rid of a kid. Or maybe two.

I kid.

The bottom line is that I want all my kids (really, really want them, plus two more if I could get them), and Dave and I have made a conscious decision to be too busy right now because we feel that it's important for our kids. Yes, we will cut back when this season is over, and next year, we may find ourselves doing much less.

But this year I will buck up and drive my carpools, taking advantage of the time to listen intently to my children and their friends, and have one-on-one time with them when I get the chance. I'll cherish the handstands and the soccer cleats left in the middle of the floor. I'll have a better attitude about lugging the chairs and the snacks while trying to cajole my kids to stay by my side through the parking lot trying to get to the sidelines to watch a game. I'll continue to find a way to make family dinner work into our schedule and help the most important things stay in focus.

Because I am the mother. And that's what mothers do.

But I still can't wait 'til summer!

21 comments:

  1. My girls just aren't interested in doing ANYTHING> They are in GEMS at church every other wednesday. Savannah was in Chorus, but dropped out now. She is on student council and that's IT. AVa is in NOTHING. I long for them to try basketball, soccer or tennis, and neither one wants to! I so wish they would! But they love art, being at home and that's about IT!
    it's funny how since we aren't that busy, that I want them to be busier! I would LOVE for them to LOVE tennis! that's awesome!
    enjoy it~
    tara

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  2. I hear you 100%!! I always thought life was so crazy with little ones but it is a different kind of crazy as they get older. The thing I love about you in all the craziness is you do it with a smile!

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  3. I judged too much as a younger MOm too. It's a completely different world But then I realized that it is a GOOD thing for older kids to be busy...keeps them involved in good things, developing their talents, being active etc. Instead of sitting home playing video games/computer/TV etc. My oldest is 11 and we aren't involved in as many things as you are, and actually I am tryingi to get my oldest to WANT to do another sport because he needs more activity. The hard thing is juggling the older ones and the younger ones needs to be more free...I have a 4, 2 and a baby coming in May. THAT is the challenge!

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  4. Thanks for this post. My kids are still young, but still so many things they want to try, and we try to limit to one or two at a time. Love that you say to keep the important things still (like dinners).
    Oh, and my sister was hired as a driver for a family when she was 17. Sweet job for her!

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  5. one more comment to add to my rambling one before. I could use another driver as wel...and then the thought came to me...or a sister wife would be handy in this instance...but ONLY for that purpose, not sharing her in any other way! :)

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  6. Better you than me. No desire to be that busy! One of the reasons I homeschool. Gives us more time to be together and then do other stuff.

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  7. So now you have IWAN and IWAD!

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  8. You don't know me, but you know my SIL Adelia Brown. I laughed and cried a little as I feel like I'm headed in this direction. It seems like the last 2 years have become crazier and I miss the days of having my babies to myself. Our own schedule to linger at the park, to read endless picture books. My oldest is turning 10 and I feel like my two youngest are getting the raw end of the deal as we run to and fro getting everyone where they need to be. Looks like it just gets worse! (:

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  9. Shawni...my life and yours are too much alike. I actually published an article on SimpleMom a year ago about how I allow my kids to do only one thing to cut down on the business...and you know what? I'm a hypocrite too!!! Because Abbey is in the school play, and LOVES her sewing class, and got into the writer's workshop which is such a feat, and then she really really loves voice lessons which she needs for the play.
    And Isaac is in highschool (and almost driving!!!) but is playing a sport and if you think it's a commitment now, wait till they play a highschool sport. EVERY single day and on weekends too.
    And it goes on and on.
    But I vowed (like you) that this stage of life I'm in...just has to be this way. They are all doing what they love, and I just have to be organized and efficient and not complain but enjoy...as I drive here and there and everywhere.
    (And I'm appreciating the fact that I did keep their younger days simpler, as did you...so as to be prepared for this next stage in life!)

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  10. I grew up next to a family of twelve overachieving kids. And their mom "stifled" their creativity by restricting them to two activities at a time: one music and one sport. That may sound crazy, but that was TWENTY-FOUR things to manage. And they were fine.
    I've tried to keep that as my ideal. Sometimes special things get in the way, but there's only so much of me to go around, and I'm losing my second driver to BYU in less than 100 days. Then I'll be back to the oldest being in ninth grade. And I tell you, I will miss that other driver. When I can schedule him.

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  11. Maybe next year you can play "The Biggest Loser" or maybe it will be more like "Lost"! Those years are crunch years! You've got it right for now so keep on keeping on!

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  12. I've been following your blog for a few months now. As I was reading this post I thought about how playing the piano for me especially as I've done it more and more as an adult and am teaching young ones is that it brings me so much peace, happiness, emotional strength, confidence and actually gets my imagination going as I dream up my own compositions that it made me wonder if all of these activities have greater purposes and lessons within them that we can teach our children. For example, learning something new and persevering when it doesn't come as easily as we'd like, teamwork, trust, working hard, commitment, self-confidence, respect, sacrifice. I think the key may be to do all of these things more consciously and using teaching moments when we can instead of it just becoming a routine or it being all about winning (or losing for that matter) in the eyes of our kids, But, hey, what do I know? Absolutely nothing because I'm a young mom and haven't been there yet. A lesson I learned as a young adult was that I had so many things going on as a teenager I wished I'd have focused on a couple of things and really gotten good at those things instead of doing everything mediocre. BTW totally agree about tennis!

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  13. I ask my oldest son what he thought was the most valuable thing he learned in high school was. He said........it was the football. The coach taught me I could do things I didn't know I could do. Being part of a team taught me so much. I was very surprised. So......Putting your children in activities where they learn valuable lessons is so important. As you said..............that's what Mom's do.

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  14. Having another drive in the household is a HUGE blessing and it will happen soon enough! Keeping your kids busy is a good thing. They are learning self-discipline, new skills, developing their talents staying out of trouble and it sounds like they are having fun. And finally, If I could have been half the mother you are, I'd be thrilled...you're an inspiration to all women...you're amazing!

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  15. You are so wise. I love reading your insights.

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  16. I was a young mom who said my three would only do one thing at a time. Like I said. I was a young mom. They did everything. I was busy. Now, they are 28,30 and 31. I wouldn't trade it for the world.

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  17. Shawni, I think I will have to eat my words someday, too. I much prefer to be more of a homebody & less busy, but I see how much confidence my girls are already gaining from their {out of school} activities like dance & piano. I guess I wish we COULD just hang out doing crafts & dancing in dress up for the rest of our lives. ;)
    p.s. A fantastic mom of 12 in our ward (PhD, now mission presidents, etc.) did at one point in her busy life hire a driver. And then she realized how much talking time and "being at the crossroads" time she was missing out on with her kids. {I'm sure older siblings driving is another story.} So hang in there with the craziness!

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  18. That last post was me, one of your blog stalkers. ;)

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  19. Shawni! I started reading this post and I was thinking...yes yes...and I waited for the answer you found. Sigh.

    You are describing my life right now too. And, like you, I am torn.

    As a kid, I got opportunities to do a lot of things. I loved it. Sometimes I looked at it all and I thought maybe I should have just focused on one or two things so I could get really good at those things. But you know what? I had kids. And now, being the mom, I am SO glad that I didn't only experience a few things. Being well rounded helps me enrich my children and open their eyes to new things.

    But then we are so busy with my four kids...and I wonder what to cut out to make it all balanced. It seems like even if we have extra time, it always gets filled up by something.

    So I don't have the answers either...but I'm hoping they will come.

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  20. Shawni,
    I'm going through the exact thing right now with my five. It's down right crazy sometimes w/ all we have going on. One thing that has kind of helped me is getting as many things to come to me as I can. The piano teacher comes to our house, flute teacher comes to our house, basketball is across the street at the neighborhood park, the kids walk to school, lots of carpools, etc. It makes it so much more bearable. As moms it is our job to help our kids develop their talents. So good job!! It's a definite balance to figure it out...but totally worth it!! Take care! Miss you!
    Darcy Ure
    p.s. caitlin's doing byu gymnastics camp. is elle going?

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