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In the spring, Pat and I spent some time re-evaluating what our family does and why we do it. We had gotten so very busy - overwhelmingly busy - and needed to figure out how much extra-curricular involvement was really necessary.
When we first moved here, we enrolled the kids in sports. Gymnastics, soccer, skating, karate... We felt that having an activity to engage in would help the kids "feel at home" in our new community. Our hearts were in the right place.
The results, however, were not at all what I'd hoped for. Rather than finding that one thing, each of our kids wanted to try a smorgasbord of activities. When one activity's eight-week cycle ended, the next would begin. We were all over the place, practically every day of the week.
So we began to ask ourselves what really mattered to us...
Building a close connection with a small group from our church.
Investing in others in our church and community, through acts of service and good old friendship.
Learning to love the people in our family deeply.
Having time to read the Bible and pray together as a family.
Being a family who is active and healthy.
Having lives of peace.
Interestingly, none of our goals included driving around every night of the week, being frenzied and impatient because we always have somewhere to go, training up Olympian gymnasts and black belt karate experts.
We made a tough decision in May - we decided that we would take a break from extra-curricular activities, with a couple exceptions. (I insisted that Pat continue to play hockey, as most games are later and don't interfere with family time and I believe in the importance of him having an outlet and some "guy time." We also chose to keep Braeden (13) enrolled in Air Cadets. We've seen a marked change in his level of independence, confidence, and attitude, and as such saw value for our whole family if he continued.)
But the other stuff that had us going like crazy people all week - it's gone. For now.
Last night, we spent some dedicated time as a family reading God's Word and praying together. This is the second time we've done so since school started.
Before that, the kids were out riding bikes, getting exercise and having fun together. They've been able to do that almost every day.
Once everyone was tucked into bed for the night, I commented to Pat on how much time we have this fall. Then I smiled, because I felt peace in my heart.
Later, Pat and I talked about our plans for small group this year, and sent an email off to the other couples about our start date. Rather than dreading the weekly commitment, we're excited!
I won't say that we're done with activities forever. But I can't say that I'm eager to sign anyone up for anything anytime soon.
Going counter-culture isn't easy, but sometimes it's the only way to set things right again. Kinda reminds me of our TV and video game decision...
What side of the fence are you on? Pro activities? Anti-activities? Somewhere in the middle?