I know about that whole idea of balance and not going for extremes, and it sounds like a fabulous idea. I don’t have to get it all done at once. I don’t have to be all or nothing. But for all my life I have struggled with this in practice. Doing anything in moderation is so hard.
I suspect I am not the only one.
John pointed out to me recently how many people jump into farming/homesteading with gusto- lots of animals, lots of projects, lots in a very short period of time, and how quickly (a few years?) they jump back out and go to nothing. I want to do it all right now and have all kinds of things in the works all the time, but as I observe the evidence, that’s really only a fast track to burn-out.
We do have lots of projects around the farm, but I hope we’re not on the track for selling all of our animals in a couple years and never gardening again. I’d love to have fresh milk all the time, year-round. The reality is that in some seasons, there is too much going on to get that fresh milk daily (so you get two dairy calves to drink the milk for you). And we buy milk instead.
I find this struggle in activities for the kids. Up to now, I have said that we’re really not doing anything because my kids are young and I don’t want to be running around all the time. We do swim lessons in the summer, but both kids are in the same time slot and it’s in our town, so that’s a fairly easy routine.
I have considered lifting my ban on activities for the upcoming year. The problem is that once I open that can of worms, I’m dealing with the dreaded moderation. In my mind, dance is out…way too expensive and I don’t love the recital thing. Music is also out, because that would require me to force my kids to practice, and I think they are young for that.
Any other activities require a drive. Yet, I can make good arguments for indoor swim lessons (continuing what they have learned and it’s during the school day), gymnastics (great physical outlet during the winter), and ice skating (to improve and learn skills since we do skate lots). Yes, I could pick just one, but once I say yes to one, I think…well, we are already in town, so we might as well ___. Or if the kids ask to do another, I can’t say we just don’t do lessons. For the most part, they haven’t asked because they aren’t in that culture in school.
I know too that once we start, they will be exposed to the idea of doing more things because of the kids they will meet. And once we’re doing something, it might be hard in their minds to go back to doing nothing. If we start, I don’t know if we can go back.
In reality, I don’t think my kids have missed much so far. The value of free time for them far outweighs what they could have learned in lessons, in my opinion. We have actual time as a family instead of evenings filled with games/practice. And having a mommy who is not burned out from running them around and not feeding herself is worth something. Yet, I do want them to explore interests and learn fun things. Hannah is seven, and that seems on the edge of old enough to start this.
How do you balance activities for your kids? How much is too much for your family? What’s a good age (or not good age) to start?