It seems to have happened overnight. Our calendar became a shared, color-coded rainbow, over scheduled mess. Events, gatherings, sports, extra circulars, meetings, parties, plans… Partner that with a traveling spouse, and it got out of control quickly. We are very thankful to have family, friends, and things that keep us busy, but there are times when the calendar gets too busy. We have now instituted a rule that sometimes we say “no.”
I’ve caught some flack for this rule. People have perceived us as being antisocial. That truly isn’t the case. I understand that each family has their own definitions of quality time, and for some, that translates going non-stop from sun up to sun down. I respect that, but I have come to realize that is not our family dynamic. My kids turn into raging beasts when over-scheduled. Being aware that we might function differently with how we schedule our time is okay!
Sometimes, we say no to birthday parties. In a perfect world, our kids would go to every party they were ever invited to. I think we can all agree this is a tad unrealistic, and sounds exhausting for any parent.
Sometimes we say no to sports. Our kids are at a very young age where we can skip an occasional practice, or miss a game every once in a while. It will not be this way forever. One day sports and extra-circulars will rule our calendar completely. For now we take advantage of bowing out from time to time. I don’t think twice about it.
Sometimes we say no to play dates. When you have a spouse/dad who travels during the week, family time (especially) on the weekends is sacred. Daddy is the center of my kids’ universe right now, and uninterrupted time with him is priority. Plus, telling my spouse he is about to spend 3 hours of his morning at a Chick-fil-A breakfast play date, a happy husband does not make.
Sometimes we say no to school events. We LOVE to support our schools as much as possible. However, sometimes we say no to the casino nights, silent auctions, charity dinners, etc… Always happy to send a check, but it just doesn’t happen where we make it to every single event.
Sometimes we say no to a date night with other parents. No. Not true. Our tires are squealing as we drop the kids at their grandparents house. (Insert evil Ursula the sea witch laugh here.) 😉
I look back on my own childhood, and there were weekends where my family did absolutely nothing. Those were some of my favorite times together. We weren’t rushing to be somewhere or get something done. Every second of every day wasn’t jam-packed with a party or event. My brother and I had to entertain ourselves occasionally. Painful at the time, but we lived to tell about it. While we very much had a fun and fulfilled childhood, not every second of it was scheduled with something to do or someplace to be. I think that we are slightly better for it.
I assume this perspective makes me a little old-school in my parenting philosophies, or sound incredibly boring to some people. One thing I do know is that these younger years with our kids are flying by faster than I imagined. Before we know it, they won’t want to be seen in public with their parents. They will be collecting sports gear to walk out the door for their next practice. Movies with friends will trump going camping with the family for the weekend. Soon enough, they won’t have any downtime. Our days of letting them be little are numbered. In the meantime, sometimes we say “no.”