Monday, May 08, 2006

On Not Driving Around

I don't think of myself as having a large family (what is five children when you had fourteen brothers and sisters?) but I know five strikes some moms as a lot. I think, putting myself in the shoes of a mom of one or two, that I might have qualms about the large amounts of laundry, or the quantity of cooking. But I have recently noticed that what parents of small families wonder about it is: How do I drive all my children around everywhere?

Of course the answer is, I don't. Unlike children in smaller families, my children aren't all on sports teams, taking multiple lessons, and living high-performance lives. Clara does have a cello lesson once a week, and on the same afternoon Bella goes to gymnastics. As for the boys, team sports, scouts, music lessons, etc., have all been tried (one at a time) and found wanting. I am grateful that right now neither Giles nor Felix has to go to an Activity.

The children seem to be turning out okay in spite of their curtailed lives. Giles is turning out some razor-sharp photographs (see his blog). Felix can't find enough time to do all the bird-watching he would like. And everyone seems pretty peaceful--even me.


Anonymous said...

Good for you! The way our society thinks we must all sign our kids up for everything so they won't be "left out" or "left behind" reminds me of the Emperor Who Had No Clothes!!!

Michelle said...

Hi Anna,

I found your blog by way of Mrs. Wilt's. I have two children, 5 and 19mo and was one of two myself. Even with my small family we don't drive around a lot. My daughter is in dance once a week and that's it other than preschool.

I don't believe in scheduling our children out of their childhood. I notice that many of the children in preschool (3-5 yr olds) already have activities multiple nights a week, as well as preschool 2-3 mornings and church activities. What I want to know is when do these children get to be kids and play?

On the days my daughter does not go to preschool we usually do not leave the house. My daughter doesn't ask why she isn't involved in multiple things, she makes up her own activities around the house. We stress crafts, reading, playing games and enjoying nature. I don't believe that she has suffered either from not being shuttled from Gymboree to dance to Early Childhood Learning to martial arts.

Thank you for the post. I'm glad that I'm not alone in thinking that children are involved in too many activies.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with the Activities as well.

First, we have much, much better school days when we don't leave the house.

And then there's the TIME. For a half-hour swim lesson, for example,

... 15 minutes to pack swim bags
... 25 minutes to drive to the pool
... 10 minutes to change
... 30 minute lesson
... 10 minutes to change
... 25 minutes to drive from the pool
... 30 minutes to decompress and reorient once we're back home.

So, 1 hour and 55 minutes of overhead. Plus 30 minutes of lesson time.

Now, swimming is the WORST activity as far as overhead is concerned. But, when you count the cost in prep, travel, and recovery time, most activities fall short on the efficiency scale.

However, my dc love and long for activities. Once they reached the 'tweens, their friends brag about activities, and, of course, our children don't want to be left out.

For me, it's a tightrope. I solve it by clumping as many activities as possible. For example, tomorrow is piano for DD#1, piano for DD#2, then Religious Ed, and, finally, the youngest volunteers with a Daisy troop. And NONE of those activities is more than 3 miles from our front door.

I also don't usually put the kids into activities if I could teach the subject myself. It isn't worth it for all the travel, wasted time, and expense.

But it gets difficult when Susie-my-best-friend is in Dance and Scouts and Gymnastics and ...

Anonymous said...

you really had 14 siblings?! does bella still do gymnastics?

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