Monday, January 21, 2013

Savoring a Sabbatical

I confess I am a bit of a hibernator in Winter. I like cozy fires, comfy clothes, slow cooker meals and hanging out at home. It starts for me right after Thanksgiving. Schedules take on a different pace, Fall sports wrap up and I enjoy the opportunity to just 'hunker down' with my family.

After a particularly crazy Fall schedule two years ago (all three kids in demanding after school activities) I made an 'extreme' decision--no Winter sports. None of my children are particularly excited by basketball--their great loves of baseball and soccer are Fall & Spring sports. If they were ambivalent, why would I push?

I don't have any help driving kids from place to place in the afternoon. My husband works late. We have no family in town. I was tired of spending the afternoons bouncing around frantically like a pinball. I resented not having dinner as a family. Homework was getting the squeeze. I saw the opportunity to grasp a lifeline and I took it. This has now been our tradition for two Winters.

P & K still have music lessons during a 30 minute slice on Wednesdays & we go to church that night as well, but otherwise, we come home after school. We rest. We play. We try to space out homework across the week. And it is divine!

I was talking to a frantic mother recently. She spoke of her stress with her schedule and asked if I was feeling it too. As I confessed my hibernation she replied, "Well, you won't be able to do THAT much longer."

I know.
Which is exactly why I am enjoying it now.

Spring is coming and this year each of my three have picked a unique sport with a different practice & game schedule. It will be hairy. I am not looking forward to the seemingly inevitable nature of busy afternoons and game packed weekends. But just because that is coming, doesn't mean it has to be that way now.

I started thinking about how often we go ahead and throw in the towel prematurely. Why do we allow our anticipation that 'it won't always be this way' to spoil our enjoyment of the fact that while that may be true of the future, it is pretty good right here in the present? It is true of many parts of life--far beyond just after school activities. What is the hurry?

Is it fear?
Is it resignation?
Is it laziness?

Or is it just that we forget the power we have when it comes to schedules. We CAN say no. The world will not fall off its axis if we just step back and catch our breath. Shouldn't we be modeling this lesson for our children among the myriad of others?

I fear that we parents believe our children will succeed or fail in life based on whether or not they played kid pitch baseball at nine or had mastered their back handspring by ten. While it is our role in many ways to help them learn to steward their talents, it is also our job to teach them to prioritize their time and nurture their souls.

This looks different in various families in various seasons. All pursuits don't allow for such a period of rest. I won't judge you if you don't judge me... :) But let us not forget that while there is much to be learned from team sports and extracurricular endeavors, there are also great lessons to be learned in family dinners and downtime.


dee said...

Good for you! I totally agree with you, but it certainly does go against the grain of our current culture. No need to rush them - love this!

Margaret Feinberg said...

I love doing all those cozy things as well during the winter seasons, especially with those you care for.

Shannon said...

Hi J.
Have read you for about 3 years now. Hardly ever comment, but know that you are a blessing to me when i do read.

We have 6.5 yo b/g twins who have never been in one extracurricular activity. I think we may start this spring with baseball and/or piano.

I do hesitate though. I like our quiet nights at home.

Shannon in Texas

PS: The kids are getting so big and I truly have enjoyed watching them grow.

Katy said...

I can relate with hibernating during the winters, i'm in michigan.....brrrr. each son, ages 13 & 10 can choose 1 activity. my 10 year old does gymnastics during the school year, 1 night a week. my oldest found his niche in soccer, fall & spring. my rule is no summer activities because i like to enjoy the summer. i like that we can go on vacation on a whim aka camping. long afternoons of swimming etc.

i don't like to over commit because i refuse to be a stressed out mom marching to the schedules of sports thinking that one day my child is going to make it......

enjoy your winter of hibernating.

Eleanor said...

Way to go! I totally agree with you. We all have to find that happy balance in our lives and I grateful you have found yours.