Last September our family boldly embarked on and successfully survived a 30-Day TV and Gaming Fast (it was great, by the way, you should all try it). This September we are embarking on a <gasp!> one-year activity fast.
It all started toward the end of Spring 2011, when our family had reached new heights in terms of activity burnout. All the extracurricular activities our family members were involved with not only depleted our respective energy levels but also, and probably more important, destroyed our evening and weekend family time together.
Practically every night of the week, as well as every weekend day, our family was split up in different directions as we attended to various sports practices, clinics, & games, public speaking classes, Aikido lessons, church, and sporadic meetings, as required. We were physically and mentally exhausted from running around and became more and more disconnected as a family.
I wholeheartedly subscribe to the “The Family That Stays Together, Stays Together” principle and our family clearly wasn’t living up to it.
So one rare, available night last spring during dinner, I suggested to the family that we conduct a one-year experiment beginning in September of this year: for one year, our family would not sign up for any activity that required a physical presence out of the house after 5pm.
There was a looooong pause as they all looked at me like I had two heads. They were in total disbelief that I could even suggest such a thing.
I, on the other hand, was aghast that they wouldn’t JUMP at the chance to not run, run, run practically every day of the week and not have to get up early to play sports on cold, autumn Saturdays. I mean, half way through any given activity season the kids would whiiiine and carry on about how tired they were as they begged “do we HAVE to go?” It made me question why we were spending hard-earned money for activities that they didn’t really enjoy doing most of the time in the first place. And then we became the bad guys for making them stick with it!
Hubby’s primary concern was keeping the boys enrolled in our township’s wonderful sports program. He was adamant that they needed to continue to participate in team sports. My solution: participate in homeschool sports programs that were offered during the day (because we homeschoolers can do that ).
After a few weeks of discussion on the matter, we all agreed, some more reluctantly than others, to TRY the experiment.
So here it is, September already, and the kids haven’t even noticed that they didn’t have to schlep to a single hot, August soccer practice. I think I’ll bring that to their attention the same time they wake up after sleeping late on a frigid October Saturday morning and realize they don’t have to freeze their butts off on the soccer field.
I did insist on one exception to the “after 5pm” ban (other than attending our church’s Wednesday night Royal Rangers ministry): the public speaking class my 10-year-old is involved in every other Thursday night. For me, public speaking ranks right up there with reading and writing. And since there is no daytime option available, we are sticking with this wonderful program. It’s called Institute for Cultural Communicators. Check out their website at http://www.iccinc.org for more information and to find a local chapter near you.
Now before you non-homeschoolers become alarmed at the seemingly diminished amount of social interaction our kids will be getting with this one-year activity fast, fear not. By virtue of being homeschoolers, we have the ability to be flexible with our schedules and cater it to our needs. Thus, our kids are involved in daytime art classes, swim classes, field trips, workshops at science museums, lego clubs & camps, play dates, vacation bible school…and now homeschool sports. Trust me when I say they get PLENTY of interaction with other human beings during the course of the week. I often lament that sometimes the hardest part about homeschooling is…staying home.
So this is how our family is going to roll this year. Wish us success! I’ll keep you all posted periodically with our feedback.