Being a parent is a juggling act between needs, wants and absolutes. One of the most common complaints I hear from parents is feeling overwhelmed and crazy busy. Everyone is coming at you, wanting your time and energy, literally sucking the life from you. Being overly busy is not good for you or your family. There is no time to breathe, relax and enjoy each other. Too much stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and health problems.
Well, I am going to put this to you lightly, if your life is out of control busy, it is because you have allowed it to get that way. Let me explain. It is our job as parents to raise and manage our children. If their schedule is so busy that you are running around like a crazy woman, needing 5 cups of coffee to survive, that is because you have allowed this to happen. You are in control, or at least supposed to be.
Just Say No!
The one word that will simplify your life is… (drum roll please),
“Mom, can we get a hedgehog?” No, we already have pets. (actually question I got this week)
“Mom, I want to be in the play, they practice everyday.” No, sorry, we already are committed to other activities.
“Can you volunteer Saturday for a car wash?” No, sorry, that is our family day.
“Mom, can you do my science fair project?” No, I know you will do a great job at that.
“Mom, can I have six friends sleepover?” No, mommy needs some downtime.
Saying no does not make you mean or a bad person. It makes you a woman who prioritizes your sanity and family. You are a woman who realizes that busy is not always a good condition. Saying no, allows you to take charge of your time and not let others manipulate you. Don’t get me wrong, helping others and being involved is great, but over-committing yourself is foolish. Two very powerful letters. N-O.
The Kid’s Perspective
Kids absolutely have to have food, water, and shelter. They need love, safety, education, and some sore of enrichment. They want everything. They want to play soccer, volleyball, run track, be in the play, and be in the science and math fair, and also do Boy Scouts. Multiple that by multiple kids and there you have it- absolute chaos. And that is for a SAHM, God help you if you work! This is why mom’s have become worn out, frustrated and frantic.
Just because you kid wants to play and do everything, you don’t have to allow it. It is ok to say no, it doesn’t make you a bad parent, it actually strengthens you authority. When a kid says they want to do something, like play soccer, they don’t realize all that goes into it. For example, there is the sign-up day, shopping for shoes, all the practices, the games, the photo day, and the after season party. Before you know it, you have invested at least 24 hours of your life on soccer and your daughter just wanted to play because her best friend plays soccer. Your daughter actually hates soccer but doesn’t want to admit it. Your kids can run you ragged and they don’t even know it or like the sport!
You know your kid is in the right activity, when they don’t complain or cry about doing it. When they look forward to it, and make goals towards it. Parents often force children into an activity, which isn’t healthy. Encouragement is on thing, but forcing is another. How would you like it if someone forced you to do something you hated? Yes, they are children and don’t “know” what they will like, but if your kids continue to cry, whine and stress out about doing an activity, you should re-think the motive. If your child is naturally better at something, it will build their self-confidence when they are successful. Kids are people too and they come out with their own agenda, desires and talents, regardless of how we steer them. Trust me, you life will be so much easier if you listen to your children to find out what they truly want.
How We Manage 3 Athletic Kids
We started my oldest in gymnastics when she was 5, just for “fun”. She was really good and moved up quickly. They wanted her to join the team and practice more. My husband and I talked about it and realized that gymnastics was not a good long-term sport for my daughter because she was estimated to be 6 feet tall and solid. We decided to put her in diving next because it was a combination of gymnastics and swimming, which she was a natural at. She did diving for a 6 months or so, then two things happened. She hit the board during a back flip and the 2012 Summer Olympics. I saw her hit the board and thought she broke her neck and the way her body ricocheted off the board. Thank God, she wasn’t hurt, but it put a fear and doubt in me that maybe diving was not a sport I could handle. My daughter watched the swimming in the Olympics with such intent, that she actualized memorized the strokes and how to swim them. She said she wanted to swim and we put her on a team, and the rest is history. She has a natural gift, and we were lucky enough to find it. She has swam competitively for the last 8 years, and loved it. Not only has she thrived, it has become part of her identity. It allows her to set goals and think about the future.
She was our oldest, so when my other 2 kids came of age, we put them in swimming too. They wanted to be like their big sister who was winning trophies and my husband and I felt that it was a sport that we could go as a family, instead of splitting out time on baseball fields, soccer fields and tennis courts. My other two children also had a natural talent for swimming and a desire to work hard and succeed. All three of them are successful. They actually use each other for motivation and inspiration. It has made them stronger as a sibling group because they share the love of the game, the same game, together. It has made our life’s as parents and a family much easier because there is a common ground and goal. My husband and I volunteer and have gotten involved as well.
Instead of being stressed and overwhelmed, we are unified and bonded. But, looking back, we have made that way. We said “no” to many other activities and distractions. We honestly accessed our children and noticed their strengths and weakness. (For example, if you child is short maybe basketball is not sport to invest your time.) We said no to trying out baseball and dance. Does that make us bad parents? Absolutely not! We have guided our children into a sport that aligns their hearts and talent and that works for our family. We told our children, swimming is your “sport” that we are going to invest our time. Funny thing is, they never complain. They know what is expected. They know when they have practice and meets. There is consistency. Don’t get me wrong, we have a basketball hoop, golf clubs, soccer balls, bowling shoes, footballs, skateboards, tennis rackets, art supplies, musical instruments and archery stuff at our house which our kids play with freely in the down time. I am just not driving them around to every activity.
There is a difference between being competitive at an activity and just playing. Today’s parents have lost site of that difference.
I realize we got lucky that all 3 kids like and are good at the same sport. But there is something to be said about finding your kids talent and love and sticking to it. Let all other activities be just for fun and keep the focus on that one sport. Helping your kids focus on their talent and stay committed is a life-skill that they won’t forget.
Kids should be well-rounded. But as the saying goes…
You will never be good at anything, if you do everything.
God’s advice for us busy parents.
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive. 1 Timothy 3:4.
As parents we are instructed by God to manage our households well. That means putting God first. We are not to let our children overtake our life with activities, sports and busyness. Saying no to excess activity will simplify your life and reduce stress. Knowing your children’s desires and talent will help them focus on one activity and stay committed and build self-confidence.