Back in 1994 when my first child was born I remember making a bargain with God to be the best mother I could be.
Kids and Stress
My kid was going to be smart, active, engaged, crusading to save the world—all by age five of course. I read to her, sang to her, took her on walks, took her to every library activity, did crafts at home, taught her about recycling and the planet, and as she came of age to participate in organized activities, I enrolled her in dance and soccer and t-ball, and the list goes on.
And then I read a life changing article in a magazine about parents who took their kids out of all but two activities a week—one creative and one physical. The kids were not allowed to participate in any organized activities on the weekends. This was time for the family and time for the kids to just be kids.
I felt like someone had just tossed me a lifeline in the middle of the ocean. I clung to this idea for dear life.
I was completely stressed out trying to be a perfect mother and raise the perfect child. And frankly, I was stressing her out, too. So, we made a course correction. As various activities came to an end, we did not re-enroll. Instead, we engaged with all the neighborhood families and she just played. We set her creative mind free and followed her own passions to find what she loved to do—dance. She’s 21 now and still dances for pleasure and exercise.
The moment I let go of what I thought was doing the right thing for my child, we had less battles at bed-time, less back-talk, and a lot more fun. We had reduced the stress. Luckily for our family, we made this adjustment before our first child was five. Our other kids have benefited from being able to run their own life race without the interference and stress of being over-scheduled. My husband and I have benefited by being able to truly enjoy the activities they choose to participate in and still have a family life at home.
If you are experiencing challenges at home with your kids as you try and teach good behavior as well as manage their schedules, ask yourself, is this really necessary? Is my child over-scheduled? Am I modeling for them healthy habits for stress management? And don’t be afraid to grab onto the lifeline.