How many times in the past year did I find myself driving around and wondering what I could do to reduce chaotic stress in my life? With four kids, is that even possible? A fleeting thought would run through my mind, one I thought I could not even entertain. What if....oh no, never mind, I could never do that. But it kept resurfacing until finally I decided, to heck with it. We are going to simplify our lives and eliminate all extra-curricular activities for one year. Since I'm the one who does 95% (at least) of the family shuttle service, I made up my mind before I mentioned it to Chris. He was on board immediately. At dinner we told the kids: no more Brownies, no more soccer, no more dance, no new activities. The only thing we are keeping is catechism, which is no big deal since it's walking distance and never requires additional commitments (ie, extra practices, field trips, boat loads of money). They said...okay, whatever. The world did not end. I'm pretty sure they won't be deprived of anything life-shattering. I am so looking forward to a year of no crazy running around after school. If the kids would like to return to an activity each once the year is up, we'll probably let them. The school year is almost over, and we have one lingering soccer picnic, a few dance classes/rehearsals, and two days of dance recitals.Then freeeeeeeeeedom!
The funny thing is, whenever I mention our brilliant plan to anyone, I get a sort of weird reaction. I have the feeling people think I'm nuts for stepping out of the self-imposed junior rat race. Is it really that abnormal to abstain from extracurricular activities at the elementary level, that it renders people silent when I bring it up? I can't quite tell what that's all about. Now that I've embraced the idea, I am envisioning more time at home, and a calmer and less hectic atmosphere. I think I can actually breathe easier. While I do think activities can be great for kids, I also firmly believe our kids will benefit from this experiment.
In other news, Mathilda is a full-fledged walking toddler now. She is so dang cute toddling around the house. Not so cute tearing everything out of any cupboard or drawer she can reach...She has also been saying some "baby" a lot, including "me a baby", "yeah baby", and "not bad baby." "Dance" and "pizza" are a couple other words she has recently added to her vocabulary.
Last week I accompanied Connor on a field trip to Stoney Creek. We had a great time hiking around and having a guided tour of the nature center by an aging wannabe hippie named Mark from the park. He seriously made up crazy weird songs about everything (to the beat of old classic tunes - lots of Beatles) and made the kids sing after him.
Today I went on a field trip with Bethany's class to downtown Detroit. We took a Diamond Jack boat ride on the Detroit River, which was really nice. The weather was just gorgeous. After our ride, we walked along the River Walk to the Ren Cen. The kids got wet in the fountains before we went inside, had a guided tour and took the elevator to the top (72 floors). I told Bethany I thought it was funny that when I was in 3rd grade I also went on a field trip to the Ren Cen and took the elevator to the top. Bethany was invited to a friend's house after school which totally made her day.
Tomorrow is field day at Violet, then the kids have 2 1/2 days next week. We have quite a bit planned for the summer and I am looking forward to getting on with it.