We live in a society where being busy is considered normal. If you aren’t running to piano practice, baseball games, school awards ceremonies and every other possible extra-curricular activity every week, you aren’t doing enough for your kids. Every mom feels the invisible pressure to preform and possible out-preform their neighbor.
Now take that with your standard 2 kids and multiply it by 4! That pressure is real and sits heavy on my heart. Not only do I sometimes get caught up in the “have-to’s” but feel I need to prove to everyone that I can handle eight kids. I have the same struggles as every mom, but society sees my large family as irresponsible if I ever struggle. This articles purpose isn’t to point fingers, but us moms need to support each other and not compete! Whether I have 8 kids or 2, we all have the same desire to be the best mom we can be! And we can do that, without the unneeded pressure of trying to do it all and be it all.
Daily I bring myself to the feet of Jesus and he gently reminds me that I don’t have to keep up, I don’t have to do it all, and I am doing the most important thing.
Being a mom and raising these kids to love the Lord is my most important thing. And I do that by carefully choosing how we spend our time. Each child is unique and gifted with different abilities and interests. So yes, it requires a bit of creativity on my part plus a little sacrifice on each child’s part. A sacrifice that builds a sense of unity as we support each family member in their endeavors.
If any one event begins to take over our lives and there is no time for the “better things”, that is our cue to step back and re-evaluate. I want my kids to do their best and have opportunity, but not at the expense of forgetting the One who gave us those abilities.
An example of this is my daughter’s dance experience. Dance can quickly take over your calendar, your checkbook and your social life. We were blessed to be part of a performance based Christian dance studio, not a competitive one. There were sacrifices made to make practice schedules happen, but we also enjoyed watching her perform and we did our best to support her in her endeavor. We chose carefully how much time and money to devote to this extra-curricular activity, and stepped back when it was just too much for the family as a whole.
I will share with you what we have found that works for our family during this season. Every season changes as the needs of our family changes. Please don’t feel the need to copy what we do, but use it as a springboard to find what God is calling your family to do.
I was raised as a Texas 4-Her. It was my only steady extra-curricular growing up sprinkled with volleyball and tennis. And now I enjoy being a 4-H mom. Even though we move frequently with the military we have still found 4-H to be something our family can participate in everywhere we go.
4-H is one organization that allows each child to find something they love to do. This keeps us to one club meeting and shared competition dates. Even though the kids have to attend a few separate events for their chosen project, it still allows us to be unified.
Over the years my kids have participated in shooting sports, sewing, cooking, poultry, dairy goats, horses, small engines, and lots of leadership and public speaking opportunities. In the high school years, I am able to use their projects as their elective credits giving them a well-rounded transcript. Plus they now have scholarship opportunities available to them and healthy looking resumes.
We worship together as a family. Church is a wonderful place to find leadership and service opportunities. One of the mixed blessings of military life is having to find a new church everywhere we go. It’s so hard to say goodbye and I loathe “church shopping”, but at each duty station the church is our community and our home.
We chose not to participate in any church clubs, such as Awanas, because of the demands on our time. The church offers great programs! But this mama can’t do it all and can’t be everywhere at one time, so we just said no.
This looks different at different seasons in our life. Some times it has simply been a group to do field trips with, sometimes it is a co-op of sorts with classes, and currently we are participating in Classical Conversations which is a way of life. Please don’t feel like you need to be a part of a homeschool group. Use this resource only if it fits into your goals and visions for your homeschool.
This is my accountability group so that homeschooling happens at a regular pace. It’s so easy to let life get away from you when you don’t have deadlines. Homeschool group is also a fantastic way to get those fun classes on the calendar or find another parent who loves to teach science. It truly is a cooperative and a good option to fit those extra-curricular activities in to your schedule.
Having a not-so-crowded schedule leaves opportunities for my kids to delve into topics that interest them. My oldest son is elbow deep in grease on a daily basis fixing his 1992 pickup truck while my 15 year old has time to train her dog and play with the animals outside. The 9 year old loves to cook and spends a lot of time in the kitchen while the little boys have time to free play. Being home is a huge part to “home”schooling. One way I achieve this exploration is through Schoolhouse Teachers.com. If you haven’t checked out this incredible resource for not only extra-curricular, but core subjects, you are missing out!
It’s hard to say no. I LOVE to get involved and be busy. It’s in my nature to try new things and participate in clubs and groups. The Lord has taught me a lot about saying no to some things so that I can say yes to His things. I’m still a work in progress. I pray that you found confidence in your ability to choose extra-curricular activities without going crazy!