In a culture with so many options, how does a family go about choosing which sports to play, which art classes to take, and ballet, karate, and piano lessons?
I can tell you how we've chosen to participate or not over the years, but I think our choices have been very personal and geared toward each of our children specifically, so that's just not really going to help you unless you know our family in real life.
But I can help you think through the smorgasbord of options and hopefully you'll gain some clarity.
1. First, think about why you are desiring to add that sport, that class, or those lessons.
Are you considering an activity because it's what our culture does? I remember thinking that soccer was a foregone conclusion just because that's what kids in America do.
Are you wanting your child to participate in that sport or those lessons because you think it will earn them friends, make them accepted by their peers or family members, or give them (or you) and sense of value and worth?
Remind yourself that our identity is in Christ, and His perfection and love gives us our identity, value, and worth.
2. Secondly, take some time to really know your family's frame.
Is your child a bookworm who would be happier getting his daily exercise on a walk with the dog? Are you a family who loves to spend time making music together or serving others? Do you have limited energy due to illnesses or just because that's the way God made you? Consider your family's frame and make choices that will enhance your lives, not make you miserable.
The activity level of one family is not a measure for all of the others. You may love chaos and running from one thing to the next while the family next door can't handle the racket. That's okay! You have different frames.
3. Consider your reality.
On a similar vein as considering your frames (or, the way God made you) , take a look at your reality. Are finances tight? Do you have limited time? No help from family or friends?
Our reality often shapes our choices, and sometimes in our quest for a certain thing or experience, we easily forget our reality. I'm particularly bad at realizing that there are, indeed, only 24 hours in a day. But that is, in fact, my reality!
4. Know your goals.
In the two decades that we've been parenting, many opportunities have arisen for activities, classes, teams, projects, and experiences. It has helped us to remember what our goals are for both our family and for each child individually. In light of our goals, I can make better decisions when I consider whether or not an activity will get us there.
5. Give yourself every freedom to quit if you need to.
We were recently challenged to re-think our stick-to-itiveness after hearing a compelling Freakonomics podcast on the topic of quitting. We'd both been raised to make a commitment and stick to it,. but I think there is wisdom in knowing when to walk away from something that isn't a good fit.