I'm doing some research for a magazine article, and I posed this question on facebook: What is the biggest issue facing today's parents? I think the answers were very different than they would have been a few years ago. One response referenced health care, but everything else referenced balance. Balancing home and work, home and school, extracurricular activities with home and schoolwork, balancing healthy lifestyle with responsibilities, etc. So why are we, as American families, so out of balance?
Some people might say that we're out of balance because we've lost our moral compass. When you have a definitely spiritual direction in your life, you have a focus. When you have a focus, it is clear what falls in the perameters of that focus or not. But one of our biggest struggles for balance in our family IS church because it's easy to get up Sunday morning and spend the 'day of rest' at church all day doing anything but resting. Oftentimes, extra church programs, activities, luncheons and so forth are just tacked on to the Sunday 'church day', so that the actual worship time is surrounded by other things (like cooking breakfast at church, eating breakfast at church, lunch after church, meeting after church, drive kids to youth group that night and pick up with a parent meeting in there, too) Now please let me say that I'm not complaining, but with the moral compass argument, one might say that all these church activities are a definite yes when it's okay to seek balance there, too. I experience that. I feel guilty sometimes if our family doesn't participate in an activity, but I know that we have to draw the line somewhere.
Some would say we're out of balance because kids used to get more at school in the way of the arts and exercise. Now parents feel like they need to supplement after school.
Some would say we're tempted to do all these after school activities because it's just not safe for kids to 'roam the streets' like we used to do. (okay, we never roamed the streets, we roamed from yard to yard and played, played, played) Parents want their kids moving, active, but don't feel like they can just send them outside like we used to.
Like extra curricular activities. Kids get hardly any exercise at school anymore. They have so much homework that it's hard for them to come home and do much, either. So most parents want their children to play a sport for the exercise. But that's another activity, right? Another thing to drive them to, get equipment for, maintain a t-shirt for, etc. And what if their love is art, and they want to spend time on creative endeavours? What about musical instruments? Research tells us that playing a musical instrument is the single best activity for brain development...who doesn't want that, right? And scouts? Not to mention Odyssey of the Mind...When and how does any or all of this happen without driving parents AND KIDS crazy?
I'm all about keeping kids busy and out of trouble, but they need to learn to manage their own time. How will they ever do that if they don't have their time to manage? Monday-Fri- school work city. Saturday- sports and birthday parties. Sunday- church nearly all day. This is the aspect of homeschooling I totally get because you have so much more time, I would imagine.
Now time is an issue for lots of reasons, and the older my kids get, the bigger issue it becomes because it happens so fast. I want to grab ahold of them, and scream STOP to the world. Now you know something is out of whack when I LOVE sick days with my kids because I get all that time with them, we get to snuggle up and read books and talk about anything and everything.
So here's my vision for a day: Kids go to school, come home and do a little homework (not three hours of homework), then go outside for a neighborhood game of kickball or walk to the tennis courts or jump on the trampoline. Family dinner together, then maybe a little card game, scrabble, general family time after supper, then bedtime. Oh, yeah, but what about chores? sports? preparing for the next day of school? cleaning up the kitchen? laundry? showers?
So as the school year begins, and we're all getting nonstop phone calls about committing to this committee and that project and so on, let's think about balance and how we can get it. PLEASE share your thoughts with me if you have any. And I'm wondering, WHY do we want balance anyway? That's definitely something we need to explore, as well.
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I write to serve, to unite, to educate. I write to share literature and flesh out ideas that may be of interest to others. I write to document an emotion, experience, or a blip in time. My mission is to write in such a way that the reader is reminded that we can find humor in all situations. It's one of the great blessings of life.