Today we’re talking about minimizing activities. Or, put another way: adding more freedom to our kids’ days.
Every parenting choice is personal. It’s about what works for you as a parent, for each of your individual kids, and for all of you as a family. It’s a balance that isn’t always easy to find, and one that I find myself rethinking and tweaking with my own kids.
In all my parenting practices, my ultimate goal is to raise independent adults and foster a loving relationship with my kids. What that looks like from the outside changes now and then, especially when it comes to activities.
I want my children to experience a variety of activities and learning, to expand on their interests and develop their talents. On the other hand, I do not want my children being rushed from one thing to the next, leaving them with little time to just be.
We don’t sign the kids up for any formal activities at all before age 3. It just didn’t work for our family, the whole dragging a car full of littles from one activity and group event to the next. We found it to be an unnecessary drain of energy and expense – quite the opposite of the joyful family experience we imagined. haha I will say, I know many families that thrive doing exactly that, which is the beauty of an intentional life. Do what is good for your family, and the joy will come with it.
When the time came to choose formal activities, we probably got kind of lucky that 3 out of our 4 (so far) all enjoy soccer. Choosing that as a primary activity was a no-brainer. The time we spend at practices and games is time spent together and outside, learning skills that, beyond the sports field, are important in day-to-day life. This is one activity that I could definitely see growing with our family, so it was one that we decided to invest the time into.
Does your family have something you enjoy doing together? The more things you are able to do as a family, or at least combining kids, the easier it is to minimize travel time, expenses, and some of that pressure to be and do all day.
As far as individual activities, our family rule is to pick one and we will make it happen. Because our kids are still little (6.5/under), we are making that call. As they get older, this might be a rule we tweak if necessary, but for now, doing school, family soccer, and one individual pick is working well.
Eloise, for example, had been requesting dance classes since she was around 2. Shortly after she turned 3, we signed her up. She continues to love it, practices throughout the day, and looks forward to class every week.
Mikey, on the other hand, likes to dabble. He tried baseball at one point, art, and now is part of an after-school theater program. Next up: karate. 😉 He put it on his Christmas list and was gifted classes by his grandparents. (Sidenote: experience gifts are the best with kids!! More on that another time!)
Minimal living means different things to different people. For some, it’s about a style or decor. For others, an entire lifestyle centered around less consumption. For us, minimalism is about thoughtfulness – intention – minimizing unnecessary clutter, whether physical or mental, in our lives.
Activities with children can be overwhelming “clutter,” or they can be a beautiful, memorable, maybe just a little crazy part of family life.
How do you decide what activities to do with your kids? What age do you start? My kids are still very young – I’d love to hear from parents of older kids, too! Did your mindset change at all as your kids got older?