Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Counter-Culture Decisions

courtesty of squidoo.com

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?


  1. I wish that the rest of society got it!!! I want my kids to be active and healthy, but I don't know why a four year old has to have t-ball twice a week instead of once. Or why a 10 year old has to have baseball tournaments every weekend in the spring plus his two practice games a week. Why does being in an activity have to mean a 2+ day per week commitment? I have two kids, if they both choose one activity, plus my hubby and I chose 1 activity, and they all happen to fall on various nights of the week, we could be apart all week long! Not to mention the little one-time commitments that come up, like meetings and sleepovers, birthday parties and guy-wing-night. So our bodies and outside relationships might be healthy, but our family will crack. Ugh. I gotta figure this one out before my youngest starts school in a few years :).

  2. We, too, have not had extracurricular activites in our family, with the exception of swimming lessons. With 4 kids it would truly be a gong show.
    I watch my neighbors with 2 kids in 2 activities (one shared with a parent) run around and never be home. Then when the conversation comes up that there is no time for playdates with their kids, I have no good reason for my kids, and the neighbors only apologize, again and again.
    My kids thrive on activity, but it doesn't have to be organized sport multiple days of the week separate from the family. There are tons of activities we do as a family to keep us connected.
    The girls even mentioned when we were a bit busier they'd prefer to just have time to play, not be out all the time. That was a wake up call for me. When the kids start mentioning they want down time, it's time to pay close attention.
    It brings a greater sense of peace in our home when we are actually spending time together, encouraging one another, praying, and learning more about each other. It's hard to do that for us running place to place to place.
    P.S. My kids, including my teenager, have thanked us for not being too busy, and have not seemed to be lacking anything for not having been so busy doing what culture reasons is good for our kids. The proverbial "they" seem to communicate overactivity in such a way that we wouldn't be good parents if our kids weren't enrolled in stuff, and the guilt that can ensue can be difficult, but it's proven to be strenthening here on our homefront to have put our foot down in this area of parenting.

  3. We're counter-cultural right now too...NO extra-curriculars! At least not until we move, and even then we'll keep them to a minimum while the kids are still young. Good job you! It feels soo good, doesn't it? We sure enjoy it... :)

  4. I want my kids to play sports and have activities they like but thankfully for me we live in a rural community and there's not a lot offered. However my son loved soccer last fall but this year games fell on Saturday and there was two practices a week. Well that doesn't work well when both parents work full time and we have a two year old son. So he decided he would rather have that free time to spend riding his bike farming at his grandparents.
    I do hope that both kids find a sport or activity that they love and that we can work it in to our schedule.

    I do have friends that have so much going on they seem to meet themselves coming and going having to live by a little black book. I like schedules but not that much!

  5. We have 2 boys who are in the SAME activity. It meets once a week & a few times extra a quarter for competitions if we choose to do that. They are able to practice through the week at home in the yard. I do like the fact that they are able to burn off some energy practicing, but because it's at home we aren't on the go all of the time. This is what works for our family right now.

  6. Good for you. Intentional parenting.



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