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Are Kid Activities Cutting Into Family Time?

There are a lot of clubs and activities available for children, you’ve seen the flyers, and as such it has become increasingly difficult to find the time required to commit wholeheartedly to more than a couple at a time (and that was before we hooked up the TV!). Sure, people do it, but I honestly don’t know how. Kudos to them.

My family is on the opposite end of the spectrum. We’re not committed to anything. Sure, the oldest is in the school chorus program and meets for an hour each week, but that doesn’t require any effort or money, just the gift of song.

We are coming off a couple of years in which we juggled baseball, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, LEGO club, creative writing club, and piano lessons to the point of exhaustion (the boys enjoyed most of them), and now we are refreshingly club and activity free. It’s a nice break.

However, especially with summer on the horizon, there are times that I feel like we are doing the kids a disservice by not enrolling them in community activities. Other times, when I need to justify such things to myself, I reflect upon my own personal experiences and their subsequent outcomes:

I was in 4-H, making macrame owls and raising sheep in the name of building character, but years into the program it finally sunk in that the pets I nurtured and loved were being sold for market and that market meant meat. To this day I’ve only eaten lamb once, and it was by accident. Now that I’m a vegetarian the odds of that happening again are pretty slim. Still, it was scarring.

I was in Cub Scouts, which I don’t really remember other than we had sweet uniforms with badges sewn onto them to honor such skills as tying knots and whatever else it was that we, apparently, excelled at. However, these days the Cub Scouts (and Boy Scouts) are ruled by antiquated notions of ignorance and discrimination, and that goes against everything that the Scouts claim to stand for. We’ll get our hypocrisy elsewhere, thank you.

I was in a youth group at church. You can see where this one is going.

In fact, the only activities that I really enjoyed, and still enjoy, are the things we did with family and friends. We camped, we hiked, we played baseball in the street, and we did things together and often. Those moments, more than any sweet uniform or freshly shorn lamb chop, helped shape my childhood into one of long days filled with sweat and smiles. My boys seem on track to claim the same.

I’m sure there is middle ground, but between work, school, and other obligations, it feels like kid activities and family time are sharing the same small window, which, to be clear, can include plenty of overlap between the two (depending on the activity). As it is, we’ll let our kids join things as they express an interest to do so, but at the moment all is quiet on the activities front, and we’re making the most of it.

What is your experience with community clubs and activities?

Whit Honea can be found writing about whatever he feels like at his personal site Honea Express (Honea sounds like pony) and DadCentric. If you’re really bored you can follow him on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).

Also from Whit:

Best Age to Visit Disneyland?

Dad Killed by 4-Year-Old Over Video Game

Are You Ready for Mother’s Day?

8 Underrated Sports for Kids

Photo

This post was inspired partly by good guy and writer The Holmes and his article on the sad state of scouting published at DadCentric.

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