My kids are “Multi-sport” children. Meaning, from a young age, they have been exposed and enrolled in many different sports. Often at least 2 or 3 a season. Why? My husband and I, both coaches and teachers for the past 30+years, have seen first hand the benefits sports have in helping to develop children into strong, independent, confident leaders who are able to work well with others. So, we have made sure that each of our 4 children has had the opportunity to play a large variety of both team and individual sports such as baseball, soccer, basketball, volleyball, cheerleading, cross country running, track & field, swimming & field hockey—whew! That’s a lot!
One of the most common things I hear is “how do you manage it all?” Or “I can’t even imagine how you get all the kids to all their things!”
The truth is...it IS hard to mange. It takes a lot of effort and planning to get all 4 of my kids to all their sports & activities. It means driving. A LOT. It means communicating with my husband daily to figure out when he will be home, is he stuck in meetings or traffic, do we need to ask grandma or an uncle to help? Do I need to call in a carpool or arrange childcare for the one left behind?
It is NOT possible to be in 4 places at the same time. BUT, we decided, early on, that we will make it work as best we can because we believe, TO OUR CORE, that the opportunities we provide to our children to be involved in a multitude of sports and activities is WORTH IT. Worth the inconvenience to us. Worth the stress on our bank account. Worth the limits it puts on our own free time and worth the lack of family dinners we have.
What it IS WORTH is the skills and behaviours our children learn every day through their involvement in a VARIETY of individual and team sports.
It is worth the discipline and work ethic they have developed by choosing to attend all their practices, early morning or late at night.
It is worth the time-management skills they have learnt around getting their homework done during any down time they have.
It is worth the self-confidence we have seen them develop by directly seeing results that their hard work has paid off (whether that is time taken off in swim or on the track or by hitting that 3 point shot or learning their back handspring).
It is worth the self-advocacy skills they have developed from talking to their teacher and coaches about what they need in order to succeed (missing school, extra conditioning).
It is worth the perseverance and persistence they have developed through handling hardships, failures and challenging times.
It is worth the understanding and value they have learnt to put on their health. To see them know their bodies and mind well enough to know they need to go for a walk or a run on a low-activity day is priceless and bodes well for their future as a healthy adult.
These are only a few of the benefits our children have received from their busy and active lives. I could go on and on!
The message here, and the one I hope you will hear and think about is… are you limiting their involvement in extra-curricular sports/activities because YOU don’t have time for them? YOU can’t organize your schedule to make it work? YOU don’t want to be inconvenienced? YOU value being home and unwinding in the evening over being out with them? Or YOU believe your kids need “downtime”.
I know this opinion might offend some people, but I don’t think kids need “downtime”. They need to eat properly, get their homework done, have time to read and do activities that work their minds as well as recharge their spirit. But, if you look closely at how your children are spending their time...honestly...how much time are they spending on Fortnight? On Instagram? On Snapchat? Watching Netflix?
There are a lot of hours in the day. Unfortunately, many of them wasted. I think helping your children to value their time and manage it with what excites them, pushes them, keeps them healthy and happy is our job. And I know, first hand, that busy, excited, healthy children are happy, less-defiant, more emotionally available and pleasant kids to be around. While we may forgo the nightly family dinners, we have plenty of deep conversations in car rides out to sports, we walk, hike, run as a family OFTEN. We spend a lot of time together, supporting each other, conversing with each other and most importantly, championing each other.