Sometime over the past couple of years we’ve become one of those families who are always “busy”. You know the ones – kids in a zillion different activities, weekends filled with tournaments, birthday parties and dance competitions, evenings booked up with classes and sports, too many work commitments and business travel plans, scheduled volunteering and school work….and it all adds up to simply not enough quality time for family and friends.
I’m not exactly sure how this has evolved and I take full responsibility for how it has played out but that doesn’t mean I like the way our calendar looks all covered in red, blue and black inked-in engagements. Don’t get me wrong – I fully appreciate the value of extracurriculars, team sports and group activities. But sometimes I wonder if it’s all too much. And it has certainly taken over a lot of our family time as my husband and I often head off in different directions chauffering the kids to their various commitments.
As the Family Day long weekend approached I looked at the calendar and sighed. 2 soccer practices, a hockey game, a dance class, my workout and one birthday party. I know, I know, being part of a group is a responsibility and the whole team is counting on each member to show up and perform. And I seriously considered all of the options before making a snap decision to play hooky this weekend, hop in the car on Friday morning with my hubby and the kids and head to my parent’s cottage in the 1000 Islands.
I can honestly say that I had a few pangs of guilt as we headed east thinking about the things we were bailing on but as soon as we pulled in to the cottage and the kids bundled up and headed outside to make a snowman, skate on the ice and toboggan down the snowy hills I knew I had made the right decision.
And I had a full-on “aha” moment this weekend. It was somewhere between slipping across the frozen St. Lawrence with my whole family while the sun shone down over the ice and sitting in the hot tub together in -11 degree weather that it hit me – THIS IS REALLY WHAT MATTERS! Not the schlepping to the rink or the dance studio or even the next sleepover party but this time together with loved ones without the worry and stress of any pressing commitments or demands on our time. We could simply BE. Be a family. Be together. And be genuinely happy.You could practically see our shoulders drop, our worry lines fade away and the genuine and relaxed smiles appear on all of our faces.
Yes – with 12 people (including 6 kids) and 2 dogs all crammed into a 2 bedroom cottage we certainly had a few moments of tension, a couple of disagreements, some noisy and boisterous mealtimes and one puppy poop on the kitchen floor. But overall it was a weekend of laughter, outdoor fun, card playing and good food. And there wasn’t a freakin’ soccer practice in sight ; )
So what will I take away from this Family Day weekend? I’m going to remember to hit “pause” now and then to stop and consider if being so dang busy is really the very best thing I can do for myself and my family. The next time I feel myself angsting over a hockey practice or dance lesson conflicting with an opportunity for a little family getaway or a visit from relatives or a chance to spend some quality time with family and friends, I’m going to put it into perspective and choose the option that is best for my child and not always what is best for their team.
You can bet my kids won’t look back over their childhood and remember the countless hours spent at soccer, hockey or dance practices but I’m 100% sure they will fondly remember laughing hysterically while running across the snow in their bare feet to get to the hot tub, heading out to the dump with their grandpa with a side trip to the convenience store for a treat, playing hide and seek in the cottage, clearing off a homemade hockey rink in the middle of the frozen river, getting trapped in an arm-lock by their super-strong grandma and sliding down the icy hills on magic saucers while holding hands with their cousins.
Happy Family Day! I hope you were able to pause and enjoy some committment-free family time!