Friday, August 26, 2011

How much is too much?

That is something I see struggling with down the road.  Okay, I struggle with it now.  I am talking about activities.  How many activities are too much?  When I was growing up, I was always busy with activities - dance lessons, piano lessons, soccer teams, etc.  I didn't start to play travel soccer until junior high and I was on the high school soccer team.  I took ballet, jazz and tap classes throughout high school.  Tap was my favorite with ballet a close second.  I was busy but I wasn't super committed or great at anything. 

I haven't started Laci in much.  I know once we start "the activity train" it's hard to stop.  Plus, since she goes to daycare and preschool, she has learned how to be in a group and listen to teachers from an early age.  Right now she is taking gymnastics once a week.  She loves it.  We tried swimming lessons last winter and she did not love it.  I signed her up for a soccer season on Saturday mornings this fall.  Plus she will participate in Awana at church on Sunday evenings.  That's 3 activities for the fall.  After this session of Gymnastics she asked to take swimming lessons again.  Right now I feel like we have a good handle on it.  She has been asking for ballet lessons but I have been putting that off.  I didn't start ballet until I was 6 and I want her to have a good handle on gymnastics and that type of activity before switching over.  And I want her to try a little bit of everything.  

One of the advantage I like about most sports is that there is a set start and stop.  There is a season, usually about 8 weeks.  If she doesn't like it, she doesn't have to sign up for the next year.  One of the reasons I have been avoiding ballet is because it is a school year, starting September and continuing to May.  It's a commitment.  But it turns out gymnastics is the same way.  It just keeps going.  I can't get off the gymnastics train.  I just signed her up for another session and then realized she has been going almost continuously since April.  

I know once she gets to elementary school and junior high, decisions will need to be made.  How competitive does she need to be?  Rec sports or travel sports.  Tournements or leagues.  Competitive dance teams.  Does she need to play travel to be "good enough" for the high school team?  Will she even want to play for the high school team?  Then there is the money and the time it takes to do all of these things.  Just coordinating the two kids will be a challenge in itself.  How did my parents do it with four?  It seems like it's a different world from when I was a kid.  Or is it? 

I was talking to a co-worker recently who told me his daughter does competitive dance.  They went to Myrtle Beach this summer and took second place in Nationals.  Wow.  It sounds impressive.  They came in second to an 11 - 12 year old team.  Then he told me that she will be 7 in December.  What?!?  She is only 6 and she went to a national tournament in Myrtle Beach?

All these decisions make my head spin!  I need to keep my eye on the big picture.  Activities teach a lot of things - commitment, people part of a team, time management, setting goals, etc.  Let the kids have fun and be kids.  Let the kids have "unstructured" time.  Keep it Laci and Calvin's decision.  Push them but don't push them.  It's a tough balance. 

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