Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"No" Protects My Family

Apparently I did something very strange today. Strange, at least, by many family's standards if the looks of disbelief that I got from several other mothers around me were any indication. But really, I know that I am different in this regard because I get these looks with some frequency, from strangers and friends alike.

So what did I do? I turned down a free yoga class for my kids. Yes, it was completely free, and yet I said that I didn't want it. Yes, it was a terribly trendy yoga class offered by a certified instructor that would probably have been lots of fun, but I chose to politely decline. I know- strange.

You see while waiting for my kids to finish their lessons today, and chatting with other moms while I waited, the program director at the Y approached us with a small perdicament. It turned out that the yoga class in question was new, with a new instructor, and enrollment hadn't been great. She was hoping to encourage other families to give it a try, and so was offering the open spots- for free- to any family that wanted them in hopes that word of mouth would encourage better enrollment rates in the next session.

Literally all the other moms jumped at the chance immediately. One was going to pick up her daughter early from daycare to make it work, and another was going to pick her child up from an after school program and drive from four towns away to make sure that her child could attend. When the director turned to me, the last of the bunch, she was already writing my children's names down on the list when I politley told her that we'd have to pass. "But why?" She wanted to know, polite but incredulous. I simply told her that we didn't come to town on the day the class was offered (which is true). But there is much more to my reasoning than a simple schedule conflict.

The truth is, I don't want my kids enrolled in another activity. I don't want to have another place to go, another bag to pack, another dinner on the run. Even for an awesome activity like kids yoga. I want to preserve the sanctity of their childhoods by providing- and protecting when necessary- opportunities for my children to play freely, unhindered by structured learning. Don't get me wrong here- I think they should learn, and I am grateful for the chance to enroll them in the lessons they take. But it's my fundamental belief that there can be too much of a good thing, and frankly, three lessons per week for my family is too much of a good thing.

What my kids need most in their young years is simple play, with plenty of time for imagination, creativity, and wonder. Those things slip so quickly through our fingers when we begin to rush the schedule, and we all, parents included, loose touch with the reasons why we wanted to participate in the lessons in the first place. We get moody. We get short with one another. We begin to overlook the fact that we are trying to raise people, not ballerinas, basketball stars or yogis.

So I said no, unpopular though that choice may be. And I will continue to say no to all kinds of great opportunities and events. In these years when my children are young, what could be more important than giving them the gift of time spent devoted to an interest, unpressed and unstructured? So next Thursday, when lots of other moms are taking their kids to yoga, my family and I will be sitting down at the table to eat, reading stories and having baths, and savoring the rhythm of family life.

Strange? Maybe, maybe not.

13 comments:

  1. You are such an inspiration. I wholeheartedly agree with your decision. 'Free, unstructured Play' is greatly underestimated in today's society, and while my son is only 15 months old, I agree that it is absolutely
    Essential to let your kids simply be kids. When you slow things down, and minimize schedules, you give way for the incredibly beautiful, small everyday moments with your kids.
    Thank you for the encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kate-

      Thanks for your comment. It's so good for my heart to hear other mamas (even if they aren't always the ones I see on a daily basis) are giving their children the chance to be children. Good for you for savoring your time together!

      Delete
  2. Totally agree. We were getting a little crazy with the classes and such and we way backed off. I noticed the kids were arguing with their best friends and were starting to not enjoy the classes because their same friends take all the same classes and we are all grumpy because we are all rushing to get there. Lol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Mama G, I hear you. Sometimes I let too much mainstream pressure into our daily life, and that's when I start to over-commit. "Hey, all my friends are doing it," I think... and then I wake up, realize that's going on, and recommit to our family's priorities. Life is always a journey, no?

      Delete
  3. I agree with you. I'm at home with my one year old boy and for the first time I feel on the right spot. I have a homeschool where I teach English as a second language and I accept only 2 children at a time to have time and fun with them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Congratulations on taking an important step that feels right to your family. It can be hard to do, this going against the grain, but so worth it! Keep having fun, mama!

      Delete
  4. Great post. I completely understand. We live in a world with so many amazing opportunities for our children. Zoos, aquariums, museums, music classes, farms, playdates, on and on. It's hard for me to turn those fun places down, but with three under three, I have to say no to a lot, and trust in the length of their childhood. Yes we will go to the zoo. Maybe next year when everyone is older and can really appreciate it. Yes we can take a music class, perhaps in a few years. Not all opportunities have to happen right now, though it can feel that way for me, since I'm a "that sounds fun!" kind of person. I have to limit us, for all our sakes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jill,
      I could have included a lot more in this post about my own tendancy not to say "no" when I need to, because I'm an "it sounds like fun!" kind of person, too. But you're so right to remind yourself, as I am trying to do more frequently, that so many things will still be fun in six months, a year or a few years from now. We have to remember to pace ourselves and our families! Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  5. I've been overcommitted lately and have been trying to say "no" more often. This post was perfectly timed. Such a good reminder to stop and think about the answer first. I've been trying to think when I say "no" what am I saying "yes" to and vice versa. For instance, if I say "yes" to too many activities I may actually be saying "no" to being able to spend time with my family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Danielle,
      I love your framework for saying "no"- it might actually be saying "yes" to things that matter most to you. It's all about keeping our priorities in the forefront of our minds and remembering not to let other people's views interfere with what we know is right for our families. Good for you!

      Delete
  6. Hello! Do you use Twitter? I'd like tto follow you if that would be ok.

    I'm absolutely enjoying your blog aand look forward tto new posts.


    Also visit my web blog :: system software

    ReplyDelete
  7. Simplicity is best! You're not alone :-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I couldn't agree more with this concept! I would have not been courteous when asked why, though. I commend you on gracefully giving a simple explanation.

    We need to pare down our activites as well, however there is value in each one, it is hard to decide which ones to eliminate.

    ReplyDelete

 

Template by: Bright Sunshine Designs by Mary - Affordable Custom Blog Design © 2012
Graphic Images from iStockphoto.com