Summer Balance or Lots of Classes?
I’m planning for the summer and am trying to decide between signing up my toddler and preschooler for summer camps and instilling "quiet time" and peace. There are so many opportunities when you live in the city. How much is enough?
Metropolitan areas where opportunities for gymnastics, hockey, and swimming lessons for toddlers compete with yoga, ceramics, and cooking classes for preschoolers, are also filled with parents like you asking the same question. Comparing your family’s schedule to those of the neighborhood children (or against strong marketing campaigns) can make you wonder if your child will be at a disadvantage if she doesn’t have tennis or piano lessons before entering kindergarten.
For many parents who are dedicating considerable resources—emotional and physical—
to their children’s development, it’s tempting to let “doing things” become the indicator of the quality of the job they’re doing as parents, and to believe that structured activities predict their children’s future success. The key, I believe, is to focus on quality not quantity.
In last week’s episode of Parenthood, the full-time employed and at-home mothers resolved their differences by signing-up their 4-year-old daughters for clay class. I thought everyone would have been better served if the mothers took the clay class and let their daughters have an unstructured play date!
Finding balance between structured and unstructured time is a lifelong pursuit. Following quote by Ester Buchholz: “it’s a challenge to remember that quiet time has purpose."
As you plan for the summer, reflect on your life-long goals for your children. Few of us have reached our childhood dreams of becoming Olympic athletes or concert pianists (for great insight into the pursuit of excellence, read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, 2008). And yet most of us lead personally abundant lives: we’re compassionate, creative individuals who value relationships and find joy in a number of pursuits.
I advise making a list of your options. Then ask yourself which pursuits will truly add to the abundance of your children’s lives, whether now or in the future.