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Thursday, September 8, 2011
When Quitting isn’t Quitting
This year my middle daughter decided to “quit” her gymnastics team. At least that is how some people would view it. She has been on her team for 3 years now, and has done fairly well, advancing each year in skills and levels. This year she has decided to try something new. Dance and Acrobatics. We have a strict one child/one season/one activity rule at our house. Not only is it good for our budget it is good for my sanity. Those of you who have more than one kid in more than one activity know what I mean. You spend your nights after school running around dropping off one kid at one dance, one at soccer and one at piano, only to start it all over picking them up in the same order. If you are lucky all of the activities are close to each other. If you are like me and live out in the country you drive 10 miles (or more) just to get to town.
I am a fan of kids not overtraining and overspecializing in a sport. Today so many of our kids train year round for a sport, whether it is cheerleading, softball, soccer or swim. Continuous training for a sport is not good for kids. It has a different effect on their growing bodies than it does on our adult bodies. Some of you might not remember the day, but when I was a kid, different seasons brought different sports for kids, fall was soccer and football, winter basketball and volleyball, spring, baseball, track, Summer swimming and bike riding. In fact, most kids took the summer off from organized sports and just played pick up games. While I understand we will not go back to those days, I also don’t have to let my kids become kids who over train and burn out on a sport. I would rather them be well rounded and as long as they are enrolled in a physical activity I am happy.
Over the years, my kids have participated in a variety of activities. They have all played soccer at one time, tried gymnastics, sing in choirs, participated in triathlons. So did my kids quit soccer, swim and gymnastics? No they are trying new and different things. In our household we commit one season at a time. After a season is over we evaluate and decide if a sport or activity worked well for the child and the family. Sometimes a sport or activity requires more than a child or family is willing to give. More time in training/practice; more commitment from mom and dad, more money than a budget will allow. I am a big proponent of supporting my children in what they want to do. BUT my support does come with a condition. If an activity is a hardship on the family, moneywise or time wise we will find an alternative. We as adults like to try new sports, or new workout classes. A well rounded individual will have be exposed to many things, not just a variety of sports, but the arts and cultural events too.
Now did my daughter really quit her gymnastics team? I argue that she did not. The season had not yet started for the school year. While on summer break she went and watched her sister’s dance class and liked what she saw. After giving it some thought she asked me if she could take dance, knowing that she was only allowed one activity. She has on her own decided to do one semester of dance and one of acrobatics. Now we are talking about a child who would sign up for every extra curricular activity going if she could. I am not a fan of the overscheduled child. I am a firm believer that too many children do not have time to be kids, to just play. So what will we do with two nights free a week as a family now? We will probably be able to to eat dinner as a family, we will have time to make family memories with relaxing dinners and conversations together around the table.