Before You Sign Up For A New Activity, Ask This Question
My inbox is constantly bombarded with invitations from my kids’ school. Do my children want to join swimming, tennis, robotics, karate, soccer, chess, basketball, or baseball? Some activities are free, others cost money. Some last six weeks or six days. Some activities are athletic, others are cerebral.
What should I say yes to? What should I say no to?
Before you sign up for a new activity, I want to encourage you to stop. Just stop right in your tracks before you fill in that online form or sign that permission slip and think.
We live in a culture of busy. If your child isn’t in several enriching activities, other parents might look down upon you for your poor parenting skills (or at least that’s your perception). So many parents are running around, getting one child to soccer, another to piano, and the last one to gymnastics. Having a full schedule seems like a badge of honor for moms. And although activities can certainly be wonderful for a family, too many of them can be draining and counter-productive.
So think before you sign the dotted line.
Before you sign your child up for a new sport or enriching class, ask yourself what that new commitment will cost the family.
How are you going to handle transportation?
Is there enough time to get homework done without a lot of stress?
Will your family be able to eat meals together?
Can your child get to bed at a decent hour?
Sometimes saying no to an activity means you are saying yes to greater things like peace, sanity, a good night’s sleep, and dare I say it, free time.
There’s a verse in the book of Hebrews that may be familiar to you, but perhaps you’ve never thought of it in the context of planning your family activities:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Look at the phrase “throw off everything that hinders us.” Those hindrances aren’t sinful – after all the next phrase addresses sin by saying “and the sin that so easily entangles.” The things hindering your family from running the best race possible may be perfectly good things. They may just be too many things.
An overly packed schedule leads to distracted and overwhelmed living. You and your family members need margin to thrive.
So please allow me to give you permission to ignore the Joneses who take baseball, tennis, football, martial arts, swimming and orchestra. You don’t have to do everything just because some other family does. We’ve opted for simplicity in our household. Our three kids take piano lessons and martial arts. The girls participate in ensemble at school. That’s it.
When you’re faced with that tempting flyer or your child is begging you to try a new activity, ask yourself what will be most beneficial decision for your family. What is going to help you run your race with excellence? What is going to give you more family time spent together instead of running around town?
Remember having regular meals together is foundational for a healthy and thriving family.
Research shows having a family meal four times a week or more results in higher grades and decreased risk of depression or drug use. You don’t want to make it a routine to stuff your face before racing in the car or resorting to the drive thru many evenings.
So think twice before you sign the dotted line for another activity. Make sure you’re not sacrificing family time for activities that are just not that important in the long run. Sometimes it’s best to just ignore the Joneses.