Am I one of "those" moms?

Thu, January 18, 2007

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I didn’t mean for it to happen, really, really, I didn’t.

Yet, here we are.

We may be on the verge of being, dare I speak the word — OVERSCHEDULED!

Before you judge, hear me out.

I don’t think Rachel is an overscheduled kid. But I have discovered how easy it is to allow that to happen. Not so much from us pushing her, but from trying to gauge the level of interest in things that seven-year-old girls want to do.

For a long time, R.’s only regular “activity” has been to attend a Saturday morning Chinese school — a little language, but heavy on culture and geared especially for families who “look like us,” families with adopted Chinese children.

Her dad and I feel pretty strongly about keeping this connection for her, so even when one or all of us whine about getting up on a Saturday morning, we remind ourselves of the important reason to stay connected with Rachel’s birth culture, pile into the car with coffee in tow and drive the 20 minutes to class. This isn’t something that she would do on her own accord, so I’ve never really placed this in the activity column.

(Yes, I love the state of Denial, have you been there lately?)

“We’ve” tried out a variety of classes over the years — gymnastics, a little Ballet Petite, music and movement, swimming lessons in the summer time, but those have always been one at a time, never more than one activity in a week.

I’ve always been adamant that we were NOT going to be one of THOSE families — overscheduled to the hilt and exhausted by driving and schedule-juggling in the name of enrichment and a slot at the Ivies.

I’m afraid, however, that we are on the brink and I wonder whether I should pull us back now or stick a toe in the waters of multiple after-school activities.

R. discovered a love of ice skating a couple of years ago. We’ve done some group lessons at the public rink on and off for a couple of years. But she really wants to learn, so we’ve bitten the bullet for private lessons.

We have no illusions of creating the next Michelle Kwan, but we know from R.’s swimming lesson experiences that she’s a kid who gets lost in group lessons — she’s not the worst one, she’s not the best one, she’s in the middle and that’s OK, but those kids don’t get a lot of actual attention or instruction in a lesson with ten other kids and don’t make much progress.

So I thought, well, two activities isn’t so much — Chinese school and ice skating. I can manage that.

Umm, can you say ‘piano lessons?’

A slot with a decent time came open at R.’s school for piano lessons and she wants to give that a spin, too. I’ve been mulling over this for a couple of days and have decided to let her try it out, fully realizing this may be too much for my seven-year-old.

Because she also wants playdates, and then if you add in even a modest amount of first-grade homework – POOF! — no time left for a little chilling, and I know my girl — she needs her downtime.

This may be a short-lived experiment. Or not. Heaven help me. Just stop me before I sign on the dotted line again.

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9 Responses to “Am I one of "those" moms?”

  1. impromptublogger Says:

    I definitely don’t think you’re “one of those Mom”. Believe me I do know some!

    With my dd (age 10) she’s done the same sorts of things. Ballet, gymnastics (lasted 3 months), softball for 3 years, and then ice skating last year. She also had Hebrew school (which she dropped this year, don’t ask) and has been in Girl Scouts since Daisies.

    But you’ll have to play it by ear. If she starts acting too tired and cranky every night, or her schoolwork starts slipping (I realize she doesn’t get grades yet) than you can reevaluate. She may hate piano – who knows? So it’s worth a try to see if all of these activities are doable.

    Best of luck!

  2. Libby Says:

    I swore I wouldn’t be one of those moms, and I usually don’t think I am. But then I had to look twice when my 9 yo son had a little moment the other night over all his activities, and I started to add them up: tae kwon do (2-3 times a week, if he want his black belt, which he does); dance team once a week (a big honor to be selected, only this one semester, and, I have to say, cool that my son is on the dance team!); Y-Guides (only once a month, and an occasional campout); band (twice a week in the morning). Yeah, right. Band got cut. It didn’t help that after three months he still wasn’t routinely getting the right sounds out of the saxophone. But, still, I felt terrible when I really looked at all he does. We decided to pare down to what he really loves, and he’s already happier. But it’s also true that he had to try the things out–and really commit to them for a while–to figure out what he really loved. So it’s a process…

  3. Oh, The Joys Says:

    My eyes crossed for a minute and I went, “Chinese Ice Skating? What?”

    Heh.

  4. Suzy Says:

    Hi, Punditmom. I’m stopping in for the first time …

    I remember going to a Christmas Eve service at my in-laws’ church before we ever had kids, and listening in on a conversation where a mom was lamenting the problem of having to choose between activities for her child: “We just don’t know whether to focus on harp or ballet.” I thought, “I’m gonna barf.” That girl went on to become a professional dancer, so I guess they chose ballet.

    But I hear you. It’s a slippery slope. And then if you pare it down, be prepared to feel just a teeny tiny bit guilty about all the wonderful opportunities your child is missing. If they choose theater (as my 2 daughters have, and luckily have found a wonderful, non-competitive child-centered group)then you feel bad that they aren’t more athletically inclined. If they’re into soccer, then you think they should be pursuing the arts. You’re damned any way you approach it.

    We have taken summers off usually, though not by any design or plan. It just works out that way. And my kids are getting older … it’s all worked out, I guess. Some things have to wait for college!

  5. Gunfighter Says:

    It isn’t just moms, PM.

    Olivia plays Fall and spring soccer (1 weekday for practice, games on saturday).

    She is a Brownie (meets every other friday)

    She is in the Children’s choir at church (wednesday)

    There are other things she wants to do, but I always ask her what shewants to drop… and then she leaves it.

    Be patient and monitor the situation… add and delete as you see fit, and all will be well.

  6. mad muthas Says:

    that’s how it happens, though, isn’t it – by stealth. cos they must do swimming lessons, and tennis is fun. some of their friends do athletics and french is so useful. piano, obviously, and they love drama. and so it goes on. i’ve given up most of what they did when they were a primary, but my daughter was having a major strop the other day and declared that, when she has children, she won’t make them do anything at all – just school and nothing else.
    i’m a bad, bad mother.

  7. vasilisa Says:

    I think the key is finding out what your daughter likes. If she wants the piano lessons, go ahead. If she likes skating — sure. I think the problem is when parents push their kids to do something they don’t want to do.

    You are giving her a very good chance to find out what works for her — you can always drop extra things later.

  8. Lawyer Mama Says:

    It doesn’t sound like you’re quite there yet and the fact that you’re aware of the looming “overscheduled” label makes it less likely that you will be! But geesh, I see your dilemma. I mean you don’t want to tell Rachel that, no, she can’t try something new. But, hey, maybe she’ll hate piano. I know I did!

  9. Queen of the Mayhem Says:

    It is SO easy to do. We fight with that all the time. The Princess has a deep seated love of sports. Therefore, each season of the year is devoted to one. It can get overwhelming quickly! Downtime is such a precious commodity!


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