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Kids and calendars and too many events

I have been a parent for only four years and I’ve been perpetually exhausted since day one. Not only by my children themselves, though they can certainly put me through the wringer, but by the sheer number of commitments on their social calendar.

I knew that becoming a parent would require my hobbies and social time to take a backseat to my children’s lives for a while. I didn’t realize that even as toddlers my children would have more friends and hobbies than I’ve ever had in my life.

Taking a quick glance at our calendar, our weekends are completely booked through the end of next April. Between dance recitals, school picnics, classmates’ birthday parties, music classes, and a Disney princess-themed event, there is hardly time to think about anything except which activity is next on our agenda.

My children even have their own bright, primary-colored calendars that we review daily to keep track of it all. And this is only with one extra-curricular activity per child. I shudder to think of what our schedule will look like when they’re older and we have sports, civics, and academic activities to contend with.

I may not remember every detail of my childhood, but I do know it looked nothing like this. I spent the majority of my weekends at home with my favorite cartoons and my toy box.

Birthday parties did not have the expectation (and in some schools, the requirement) to invite the entire class. I attended dance classes and participated in their recitals, but I don’t recall there being any pressure to practice the routine diligently throughout the week. Perhaps there was and I ignored it, much like my daughter seems to forget she’s even enrolled in dance class until we’re in the studio.

But overall, much of my time outside of school was unstructured and it was up to me to figure out how not to get bored. I’m not sure my children have had the opportunity to experience boredom yet.

Even though it feels like we’re on the go nonstop, by current standards it seems like our calendar pales in comparison to my children’s peers! I know of many children who play one or two sports plus a musical instrument while also participating in Scouts or a similar activity, yet they’re not even old enough to tie their shoes. That level of time commitment and dedication is beyond me.

I think it’s important for children to be well-rounded citizens of the world. They should have their own hobbies and free time with friends. They should be involved in their community and actively contribute to the world around them.

I don’t advocate spending entire weekends in front of a screen, which I’m sure I did far too much of as a child. But one of the things I’m learning about being a parent is that it requires some practice in politely declining invitations, lest I unintentionally fill our schedule beyond our capacity.

Kayla Kirk is a lactation educator in the Las Vegas Valley. She holds degrees in psychology and perinatal education from Boston University and the University of California, San Diego. You can find her hanging out in the local coffee shops or hiking with her husband and two children.

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