Confessions of an overscheduled Mom (and family)

Last Friday, opening night for Sun’s play, we also had GATE academy for my elementary school boys.  GATE (gifted and talented education) is held annually at the university and encompasses the entire school day, where GATE students can choose fun classes that expand their minds in many, many different fields of study.  It really is an incredibly fun day with a ton to see and do. 

Spike wanted me to photograph his #10.

Because our elementary students are on a college campus, more parent volunteers are needed, but the classes are only for the kids.  So they also provide a parenting session for those of us who accompany the field trip.  I have usually not attended with my children because I have had so many little ones who have needed my attention at home.  In October, I decided it would be fun to go and get in on the parenting session, which I never have done before.

It actually was really, really good.  I received a significant piece of information that I think will help me in motivating Sun, academically.  So I will try to implement that and see if it helps her move along.  If it works, maybe I’ll share it with you later.

But the point of this post, is that on Friday, I left the house at 7:45 a.m., got home at 2 p.m., picked up Speedy at the bus stop at 3, and then left with Sun at 3:30 and was gone until 8:30 that evening.  On Saturday, I left the house at  10:30 a.m., was home by 11:30 a.m., left again at 12:15 p.m. and didn’t get home until 8:30 p.m.  So for two entire days, I was not home.  At some point, Friday evening, I realized that I had missed Spike’s entire day.  He woke up sick on Friday and he didn’t feel well.  He was whiny and just wanted his mother.  I left him with his sister, after I considered skipping GATE academy to stay home with my sick little munchkin.  But I felt like I needed to go, and I did, so I received that information that will help me with Sun.  But that still didn’t change the fact that I missed Spike’s entire day!

I felt bad and just wanted to be with him.  Then I realized that this is how working mother’s feel all the time.  Maybe they can rationalize away the feelings or they are happy working, I don’t know.  But I really like being there for my children, especially when they are ill.  (I am not trying to disparage working mothers.  I think they are amazing the way they divide their time.  I recognize that most of them dearly love their children, do not wish to be working, and are feeling stretched thin while they try to balance two worlds that, in all honesty are pretty incompatible.  I don’t know how they do it, and I am grateful I do not have to figure it out!  They are not getting any judgement from me!)  It just really made me sad that I was somewhere else when Spike was feeling sick, and even if he had been well.  I missed him on Friday and Saturday!

In speaking with some of the other mothers at the show, one who has three children (youngest is 15) and one who has two children (youngest is 12), I was amazed at the amount of ‘things’ they had their children doing.  The first one has her daughter in six dance classes per week!  SIX!!  Holy Cow!  The other mother, her 15 year old, goes to zero period orchestra every day, basketball practice and games each evening, and he was also the lead in our play, has AP classes, and plays year round sports.  Her comment was “So, it’s not like we can get a break with his schedule.”  And I thought but did not say, “Yes, it is.  Choose not to be so busy.  Cut something out.”  The father was a part of the conversation too and he said, “Well, he is cutting back.  He isn’t taking piano any more.”  To which, the mother piped up, “That is only because his teacher moved.  As soon as we find another one, we’ll pick that back up too.”

REALLY?  When does that kid find time to breath?  I have to say, for a while, I was that busy as a teenager too.  But as the mother, I realized that our family could not have all of our children running at that pace.  It was too much for the littles, too much for me to juggle everything, and too much for my teenagers. 

We need to rest and balance!  I am so grateful that our family observes the Sabbath day!!  We may have a lot to do, but it is work and worship that keeps us focused on the things that matter!!  This week, our Sabbath would have been triple booked and we would have had to make some very tough choices if we didn’t have our ‘Sabbath observance’ rules in place.  Sun had a show which required hours afterward taking down the set and cleaning the theater.  Shorty had a practice scheduled for two hours.  We had regular church, the bishop had extra interviews, and we had a discussion with an investigator and the missionaries.  Because we know our priorities and have an established Sabbath day observance pattern in place, Sun said ‘no’ to her show (which was super hard and emotional for her), and Shorty said ‘no’ to practice (which was easier because we worked with the same coaches last year and didn’t attend Sunday practices then either).  As it was, I still missed sacrament meeting because Spike was sick (but I was able to pick it up by attending the Spanish meeting 🙂

Anyway, the Lord gave us the Sabbath as a blessing and a gift!!  Our world runs too fast.  No day is considered sacred anymore or given as a day of rest!  We need rest, every seventh day, like the Lord established it!!  Do you realize that He even practices it as God?  The creation?  Six days He labors and the seventh day he rested.  In ancient Israel, even the land is given a Sabbath?  They would plant and harvest for six years and on the seventh year the land was suppose to lie fallow (plowed and left unseeded for a season).  A time of rest is apparently an eternal law, practiced by God himself.  Do you think He knows what He is doing?  That maybe, just maybe he has a little more experience and knowledge than we do?  And He takes off the seventh day!

OK, enough of my ranting.  We need to slow things down.  We are running too fast as a community and a nation and as families and individuals.  Maybe the pace we are trying to keep is contributing to our mental health problems.  Maybe more of them could be resolved if we just quit trying to run so fast and then trying to keep up with those who are doing that.  They are going to burn out sooner or later.  Embrace the Sabbath as a day of worship and rest!

Just say NO to those who are over-scheduling our families and children.  It isn’t good for them, and it isn’t good for us.

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