So one of the responses I have received from a friend is quite interesting and got me thinking. He said that his family has boycotted all organized sports and are 'home sporting' their two boys. I love this idea! How many of us have been held hostage by the after school schedule?
Home from school by 4pm. Rush to get homework done, change into practice clothes, leotard, sport uniform, and race off to practice X or game Y. Event does not end until 6 or later and now it is too late to cook so race off to McGreasy King for the next best option. Shove that down your face while in the car because as soon as we get home, it's bath and bedtime. Just to wake up and repeat each day....
Sound familiar? It does to me anyway. We do this in the name of 'fun' for our kids. But let's think about this....how much fun is it really? How do you feel when your day is rushed from one thing to the next and to the next? I know I get flustered, stressed and aggrevated on days like this. And yet, many of us fall victim to this schedule everyday. Many have more than one kid in more than one sport or activity, and this is daily life! Between sports, CCD or other religious events, clubs, Girl/Boy scouts, art/music classes etc. When is there ANY downtime? It's no wonder our kids today have NO IDEA how to go outside and organize a game of kickball without adult intervention. That's pretty sad.
I have to admit, I have fallen victim to this exact schedule - no matter how hard I try not to. It's hard to say no to those pretty blue eyes, staring up at me with awe saying 'PLEASE MOMMY!" But that is our job isn't it? We are not supposed to be their friend, we are supposed to be their parent. And sometimes that means saying no, no matter how much that hurts, because it is what is GOOD for them.
People have responded numerous times about how well my children play - play together, play by themselves, with others.....I attribute this directly to down time. We spend a lot of time at home, in our backyard, unstructured. We are lucky enough to have a lot of kids on our street to play with, but usually they are alone or with only each other. We frequently say 'go outside and play' with no other direction than that. I don't know about you, but I grew up this way and I think I had the best childhood EVER! Yes I played sports or had music lessons or took dance, but it was once in a while. This very idea of home sporting came from my best friend, my neighborhood friend, who I've known basically since birth. We had a trio that was inseparable (still are best friends to this day). We spent everyday outside playing kickball, matchbox cars, riding bikes, playing manhunt, coming up with schemes to make money, digging the largest hole to get into the Guinness Book of World Records.....it goes on and on. We made up games all the time - our favorite was vacuum (it's violent and painful, but so fun!). Our parents didn't participate in this, (they would've never allowed vacuum). The three of us, and our siblings were simply sent outside to play.
So as the summer months approach and the dread sets in, use the time for downtime. I hearby give you permission to ignore your kids, send them outside to play, when they whine, close the door. Eventually they'll give up and get creative. In that creativity blooms a real childhood. But seriously, go outside with them, play kickball, turn on the sprinkler, hang a hammock, have a water balloon fight, play wiffle ball, frisbee, ANYTHING.
Home Sporting - give it a try!