It is cool this morning, the air is dry, and there is a subtle scent that has me thinking that even if the calendar didn’t say it was the middle of August, I would still know that autumn is on the way. My sweetie has been saying it is the end of summer since July, though, so I’ve been resisting and trying to be the summer optimist.

My family is in for a serious reality check this fall. Over the past year, we’ve had very few things regularly scheduled in our lives. I homeschooled my oldest son, my middle son did a few days of preschool, and our youngest, our daughter, just hung out and did whatever the rest of us did. Even this summer, my husband and I chose not to sign up the kids for many activities, for a few different reasons: we wanted to be free to spend time at the family cabin, we were just getting settled into a new house and town, we don’t want to be the parents that schedule every waking moment for our kids…and we missed most of the deadlines in the spring!

A few weeks ago, however, I wished we had more structured outlets for the kids. There was one five day period when they were all crabby and difficult, which made me feel crabby and irritated. I realized then that there is a certain amount of schedule that helps define a summer, helps punctuate it and make it flow. Of course families who sign up their kids for multiple clubs or sports also have times when their kids are ornery too, but they have more times when they don’t have to hear it since their kids are off doing something else with somebody else. There’ve been times when I wished for that this summer, if I’m totally honest. But shhhh, ’cause I’m not supposed to say that out loud.

As we get ready to start life with a 2nd grader and kindergartener (the preschooler hasn’t gone anywhere, but we aren’t sure if she’ll attend a program or not), we want to be purposeful about which activities we enroll the kids in. There are so many things available for kids to do these days, and they’d probably have a great time in any number of them. But we’re trying to look towards the future, and not get ourselves committed to something we’ll regret later.

Let’s take sports, for instance. What if we sign up our oldest for hockey this winter? Do I ever want to see my baby get checked up against the boards by a boy twice his size? That sounds like a really stupid idea! But what if he tries it and likes it? I had a brother who played hockey growing up, and I’m familiar with the sharp smell of indoor ice rinks and the smell of stinky hockey equipment cluttering up the laundry room. And football doesn’t seem much better, without even bringing up the expense of the required equipment.

It’s not only sports that we’re thinking about. In an attempt to raise well-rounded children, we also want them to be involved in music (a high priority for me, especially). Do we automatically start them on piano? Then I’ll have to draw them a keyboard on the dining room table, ’cause we don’t have a piano, nor do we intend to purchase one. (Do they have indestructible, outdoor pianos?) Then there’s the mid-week church activities, not to mention all the after-school clubs they offer these days. We could already choose between chess, Legos, science, cooking, art, and even more “enrichment” activities.

How does one choose? That’s where you come in, Dear Reader. I have my own ideas, but I’d love to hear your words of wisdom, as my family enters the world of elementary school schedules, and grooming my children to take over the world. How do you pick between “the better” and “the best” for your family? Post your comment so I can come back and blame you when I’m stressed out from driving my kids all over the place! Ha! I’ll need somebody to be the scapegoat.

My Children's Musical Future

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