Families today are always in a rush. Before kids are even born, parents are putting them on the waiting list at the best preschools, looking for sign language classes and Mommy and Me classes, and Creative Movement classes.

By the time they are 4 years old, kids have been exposed to more “culture” than we had in all of our school years.

But at what cost? And does it make them “better people”? Will they be smarter than the kids who don’t or can’t do all these things?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see anything wrong with teaching our kids to be well-rounded. Or exposing them to multiple things so they can determine their likes and strengths. I just don’t believe it has to necessarily be structured lessons.

Are we raising Type A kids?

The problem comes in when all of this going and learning causes problems. Moms are super stressed because they are typically responsible for getting everyone where they need to be. Plus you’re stressing because of the cost involved in these lessons and programs that your kids are involved in.

And while these 2 reasons above are super important, the one that tugs at my heart the most is the fact that you may be stressing your kid out, rather than educating or entertaining them.

If they have back-to-back lessons, when do they have time to be kids? When do they get to run and play and imagine and create? While structured learning has it’s place, so does being able to learn and discover on their own.

Kids don’t have to have structured lessons to learn. Give them some every day toys and some space, and they will do quite well on their own. Playing in dirt, pouring water in and out of things, jumping from one rock to another, kids need time to do these types of things.  (Here’s a cute post of my grandaughter doing just this very thing)

Letting go of football

One of my Facebook friends, Kristen Howerton, (you can find Kristen at Rage Against the Minivan) posted this status update this morning:

I just had a coach scold me because my five-year-old missed his football practice – after the practice was scheduled at the last minute. Related: I just pulled my five-year-old out of football. BECAUSE HE’S FIVE. I realize there may come a time when our family has to take their sports commitments seriously. Preschool is not that time.

I applaud Kristen (and so did others on Facebook) for realizing that there was no need for that pressure. It was not necessary, especially at his age.

Our family’s story

When my kids were younger, there wasn’t quite the pressure there is now, yet I chose to limit outside activities. My kids played softball for 10 years with a low-key church league that had 1 practice and 1 game per week in the spring. My kids took Art lessons one year (we homeschooled). They also participated (the 3 of them together) in a community theater. My son did wrestle in his junior year.

I wanted to make sure that we were home most evenings, and that we had dinner together.

With my youngest, she was such a social butterfly, she wanted to do EVERYTHING by the time she got to high school. It was a constant struggle to keep her from overextending herself and getting sick or having panic attacks (seriously).

She was a manager for the wresting team. She took dance 3 hours a week. She worked on the school yearbook. She was an aspiring photographer. She also had a horse, with whom she once upon a time would spend hours just riding trails, by this point she barely had time to run by and feed him.

Now a young adult, I still remind her from time to time not to stretch herself too thin, but I think she is finally catching on!

Know your why

This post is not meant to bash you or criticize you if you have your kids in sports or lessons. What I hope this post causes you to do is to step back and reexamine WHY you are having them do these things? And then consider if they still have to time to be a kid, to just explore? And are their activities causing you unneeded stress? If so, are there changes you need to make? Or maybe like Kristin, it might just be time to pull them out.

The main thing is that you know and understand your reasons for doing what you are! And don’t forget to reassess of things start getting out of hand.

Here’s to less hours in the car and more in the backyard!

I’m linking up to Shell’s Pour Your Heart Out.