My kids seem to be much more involved in extracurricular activities than I was at their age. Maybe less true for my 14-year-old, but that’s definitely the case with my 10-year-old.
Both of my kids have had the privilege of experiencing team sports, music, theater, art and various camps. As parents, we try to research the best places to send our kids, the most competitive teams, the most experienced teachers, the most successful environment. I even found myself driving 45 minutes one way a couple times a week to perform in multiple top-notch bands and orchestras. After all, it’s not all about the kids all the time.
Over the years, our family commitments seem to have drawn us farther and farther away from our community. We spend almost as much time traveling back and forth to each of these activities as we do participating in the activity. I don’t know about you, but that is stressful. My car has become an extension of my house. We eat meals, do homework, hold conference calls and even change clothes on the road. It is exhausting and very disconnected. Being “together” in a car is not the same as connecting face-to-face with my children. I can’t see their body language. I am less likely to pick up on a change in the inflection of their voice or catch a shift in their expression.
It also has forced my husband and I to become married single parents, juggling our time between each of the children’s performances or competitions. Since everyone is so spread out, it is impossible to get from one activity to another in a timely manner, which means only one parent is present, or else we have to rely heavily on a reliable carpooling system.
The thought of letting go of some of these activities is not appealing either. After all, experiencing different things helps us discover who we are, I think. It makes us more interesting, multidimensional and well-rounded. So what would happen if we still did these activities, but stayed closer to home? This summer, I have decided that it is more important for my family to be their best in their own community rather than spend so much time seeking out that “one perfect community.” By investing our talents, time and money in our own back yard it strengthens our small businesses, organizations and communities. Plus, by lessening our time on the road, it could only help give us more time together, strengthening our relationships as well.
There will always be a few things in life that require us to move or travel in order to gain greater instruction or experience, but perhaps there are just as many opportunities for success close to home.