Introduced by Amy
My momma-in-law is a good sport; she let me interrogate her for for probably a half an hour for this post! Let me tell you about her. She is a kind and loving momma of 5 kids: first, one sister (Alyssa) then my husband (Patrick) and 8 years later, three brothers right in a row, who are now in the throes of teen-dom. She has always welcomed me into their fam, and she loves spoiling my baby, Hayden...he's their first grandchild! She also works full-time as a district Instructional Facilitator (that means she teaches teachers how to be better teachers...in other words, she's pretty dang legit.) and so she has to balance schedules with three teens and a full-time-working husband, who also coaches. Personally, scheduling/time management are not my strengths--I get overwhelmed when I can see three things on my list for the day--so she pretty much leaves me in awe!
Since most of us here at SOM are young mommas or future mommas, I'm excited to get her perspective and wisdom on keeping keeping life sane amidst several kids' extra-curricular activities and interests. Here's our conversation. (Her words are in black and my questions/comments are teal.) Enjoy! :)
|The fam! Check out Patick's hair! Ha... He's in the back.|
Well, let's see: Wrestling, football, baseball, basketball, soccer, track, cross country, gymnastics, dance, music (clarinet, piano, guitar, viola, trumpet, choir) plays and musicals, tea-kwon-do, choir, art, swimming lessons, scouting, cheer leading (one daughter and one son..the same son that played football and baseball...ha!) and 4-H.
What a list! How do you not have overload with activities?
Balancing. What they choose to do has to be balanced with their studies. If they start struggling with their academics, we back down on the number of activites that they can do. We as parants have standards above the school's minimum activity requirements, that is different for each child based on their ablilities.
How do you help your kids decide what they want to do, especially when they're young? Did they often change activites as they got older?
When they are younger I let them experience as many things as possible so they can figure out what they are passionate about--you want them to see what's out there. I would offer the available options then let them see what they want they wanted to do or give suggestions. When kids get older, they gravitate to a few activities that they like the best, or feel the strongest in.
|The 3 younger boys skiiing and boarding.|
|Ross after playing the Preacher in "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.|
|Tad playing football as a little boy.|
|Tad basing for cheer.|
|Alyssa after running a color race.|
Our oldest boy did sports for years then decided he wanted to do something different; he switched from sports to music. He first took a couple piano lessons from his grandma, and we made him stick with that for a while before we let him get a guitar. His senior year, he even joined the high school choir! We assumed music wouldn't last very long, but he kept working at it on his own, and taught himself to play the guitar. Music became a big part of his life. (FYI--This is my husband! Music is a huge part of our life. Heck, it's how he wooed me...haha! We love to sing together!)
|That's a pick in his mouth, not a blue goatee.|
|My boys! Ha..Hayden is blown away.|
When it makes life super busy and you gotta drive kids all over the place...why do you encourage your kids to be involved with e.c. activities? What makes it worth it?
To help them grow and have new experiences. They have a sense of accomplishment, and they feel that they're doing something that matters. They need to be doing something physcial. It helps with their bodies and development. Also, when kids are involved with activities, it tends to keep them out of trouble--they have a focus. Socially it helps kids to learn how to be in groups and socialize appropriately. It doesn't really matter what the activity is, they gain from the experience: knowledge and problem solving.
When have you had to help one of your kids find an activity?
My youngest son, who has high-functioning autism, if he were given the choice, would do nothing. We wanted to help find him an activity that would make him feel successful and involved. We tried t-ball, then swimming lessons. Yeah, remember when his teacher had him tread water and he yelled at her, "What are you trying to do, DROWN ME?!" Yeah, he needed something new. Then, HE asked to do tae-kwon-do, which was the first time he ever showed an interest in any activity. It has been great for him in developing focus and control of his body movements.
I started running with him as part of a physical program to increase his stregth. We trained for, and then ran 3 differnt 5ks together. A lot of kids will choose their own thing. With him, whenever anything is new or different, he is going to show fear and resistance. As a parent, you kinda have to let that go and just be positive and encouraging.
|One of their first races together. (Um, did you notice the mountains of SNOW????)|
|After a race!|
|After a cross country meet!|
Sometimes, with a child like Dustin, you plain just stop listening to what they are saying and help them get out of their comfort zone. We realized running was a strength for him, but we had to push him to do track. It was new and he didn't know what it would be like and it involved lots of people, which scared him. He kept saying for days, "When are you going to stop making me do things I don't want to do?" "You're ruining my life!"...etc. Then, the day he started, he told us several times, "This is the worst day of my life!" But he did fine. Now he is doing cross country, and loves it. He is good at it too! Sometimes you have to give them a push into an area you know they can be successful in. You have to know each child and their needs so you can guide them. When they stick with it, give them a lot of praise.
Yes. You have to branch out to embrace the interest that your kid has, even if they're not your own. Spend time supporting them in their interests and even doing it with them. Have an open mind and an open heart. My husband has realized over time that you only have a certain amount of time with your kids; you need to go to them in their interests. For example, my husband and his family have always been in to hunting and athletics...but one of our sons wanted to do art, then later, choir, orchestra, and drama. And my husband attends every play, concert, and art show.
|Ross after preforming in a musical.|
While it's important to finish what you start, be aware of situations that could arise that may cause harm and wouldn't be healthy emotionally. You have to be open-minded if something isn't the right fit for your kid.
Any other advice to share with other moms?
Don't do too much all at once. You don't want them to be SO involved that they (and you) become overwhelmed. You want to limit them; you don't want to be constantly running them around and not getting that family time. That's where bonding happens.
|Ross, Dusty, and Tad playing church basketball together|
Activities help kids to see their potential. If they have a talent in an area, then you want to encourage and foster that, even if it isn't something you particularly love--find a way to make it postive.
Sometimes as a parent, you have to realize that your child as a person and their future in life matters more than the activity. Don't get so wrapped up in the activity that your child excels in that you could risk their future, especially if they're prone to injuries. For example, our son isn't playing football next year. After 2 concussions, we had to have a heart-to-heart and help him see that his future after high school matters more than this sport. He has college and a family and a career ahead of him. We didn't want to put any of that in jeopardy. Ultimately it was his decision to tell his coach he wasn't going to play, because the 2nd concussion was really bad. He doesn't want another injury to his head that could end in lasting effects. Now, he has a part in the high school musical and is practicing to try out for the basketball team in the winter.
You don't want them to get a big head about their activities, but self-confidence is good. Activities bring that, but a big part is receiving the support and positive feedback from parents. So BE positive! Don't get wound-up.
She's wise, huh!? I'm grateful that she shared her knowledge with us and I'm grateful to have a mother-in-law that I really love and enjoy! I'm lucky. :)
So, what do you think? Did your parents have rules about what and how many extra activities you could do? What were your favs? (I danced for years, but just for fun. I quit piano--after 2 years of bawling every week--but LOVED being in choirs and smaller singing groups.) For you ladies who have older kids, how do you balance what your kids get to do? I'll tell you what, some activities are SO time/money consuming. Makes me grateful for my toddler who just likes to go for walks to the park. :)