It happens every fall. Back-to-school means new supplies, new clothes, new schedules, new activities, new goals….new everything. The back-to-school season is full of the promise of new beginnings and hope for a brighter future. It’s when signing up for all things new looks really good on paper. And, the calendar pages are clean, crisp, and ready to be written in. And we get our pencils out and begin neatly filling in the little spaces. We fill the pages with too many activities, but we honestly believe we can handle all of it. The future looks bright. The children are excited to try the next thing or revisit a seasonal sport or activity. Everyone is having fun!
And then….two weeks later….STRESS!
We quickly become overcommitted. I know this is where we will land. Every. Single. Year. And, yet, like most other parents in this country, we fall into the trap of believing more is better. I do believe that “less is more”; therefore, logic would lead me to conclude that “more IS better”….but I think that can only be true if we really live by the “less is more” mantra.
Even though I get caught up in the hopeful feelings that arise with the newness of a new school year, I have always tried to limit my children to one activity at a time. I have always said that’s our rule because I want to keep life more simple and stress-free. While that is true, I also secretly limited them (and still limit them) to one thing at a time because it’s less expensive, less hassle for me, and less time running around. Selfishly, I like my down time. Not that I get a lot of down time, but simply being home without having to rush to a practice or rehearsal or event gives me peace that I don’t get when we are all running amuck. And, even with the limit of one activity each, the schedule gets crazy. The calendar gets messy and too full. Life doesn’t always stay simple or stress-free.
Sometimes I feel a little guilty about not offering more to them…not allowing them to try more at once. But, mostly I don’t because tonight I was hearing the world news in the background while I was grading school, and lets just say that we, in America, have more than enough. Children don’t need to be enrolled in every extracurricular activity. Children need love, boundaries, food, water, shelter, safety, security. I’m not saying it’s bad to give them lessons or socialization with other kids. I’m just saying, my perspectacles were on tonight when everyone began arriving home from their individual commitments. As each different person or persons walked in the door, I could feel the stress barometer rising. We spend so much time trying to run around to keep up with the busyness of life that we begin to get tired and worn down. Tempers grow short, feelings get stepped on, and life can become more stressful than fun.
I think it’s important for us to take stock once in a while, especially when we are taking on more than is good for our souls or our peace of mind. Keeping busying, working, learning, growing, and trying new things is fun and is part of our existence. But, I think it’s equally important to learn to slow down, “smell the roses”, and know that it’s okay once in a while to do less instead of more.