We had just settled into the first few weeks of school for my older son, who is in Kindergarten. I was starting to feel like things were calming down with that transition. During a casual conversation, a family member asked me if we had him signed up for any sports or activities this fall. The question made me pause. My first reaction inside was to think – “heck no!” “We have enough going on every day that we’re not going to add activities for the 5-year-old to the mix”. Of course I didn’t say that! My actual reaction was a much more polite one of “nope, we don’t have any activities planned for this fall”.
In the past, I had taken the stance that our kids were too young. At 3 and 5, it didn’t seem necessary to get them involved in too much. I felt that they didn’t need to have commitments and that we as a family didn’t need to rearrange our dinners and evenings for sports. We had done the occasional swimming lessons and one mini sports camp, but nothing multiple days each week for longer than a couple weeks.
The question made me wonder though- should we sign him up for something?
I let my mind wander. What activities would my 3-year-old enjoy? Will he be behind if he doesn’t start young? Should the 5-year-old try basketball? So many questions to think about. I know we are in the minority for not starting sports already with the 5-year-old, perhaps even with the 3-year-old.
It is great to expose kids to new things and to let them try new activities. But my question is, does it have to be done while they are so young? Should we postpone the modern rushing that has become a hallmark of our lives?
So, what if we did it in a more intentional way. I propose you make a thoughtful decision on what will be best for your family. Start by looking at your overall level of commitments as a family. Does one of you work evenings? Do you volunteer a lot at church? How does it feel to do what you’re already doing and have the level of busyness you have? Can another activity be fit in? Would that put you over the edge with commitments or would that feel comfortable? These are all questions that only you can answer for your situation.
Next look at the ages of your kids. Is it crucial that the sports start now? Would it be okay for them to wait a year or two or three before signing up for a season of baseball? Or, can they do a mini session for a few weeks to see how it fits in with your family’s life? Can they try out community ed with 2 sports included so they are exposed a bit to both and know which they may like better? Then you’ll know which you might intentionally pursue a longer season of in the future.
If your child is ready for sports, and it fits with your family’s schedule and life then go for it. Don’t feel like you have to sign them up for more than one at a time though – consider having them play just one sport. See how they feel with a regular commitment before ramping things up with more. It’s okay to not want to be rushing around every evening to go to practice and games. It’s okay to pencil in dinner at home on the calendar and have that be a priority. Not wanting the extra busyness to be in your child’s life routine is also okay. Take a few years to dip your toe in the water of kid activities – before you jump right in.
Decide what is right for your family and stick to that – knowing it may change from season to season. The important thing is – you decide what is right for your family in any given season. For us, sports will be on the back burner at least a little bit longer.
Angie lives in Woodbury with her husband and two young boys. She is passionate about encouraging and inspiring fellow moms and does so at CalmforMommy.com. She loves to find ways to make Mom life feel simpler. In her perfect world, Angie would spend time regularly curled up with a book and a glass of wine. She enjoys traveling whenever she can but is always so happy to come back home to Minnesota.