I read this on a blog last week and felt a real pang of recognition.
"I'm not sure at what point it became necessary for children to be socially, musically and gymnastically aware all before they reach the tender age of 6 but it most certainly wasn't the way in the 80's and for that I'm grateful."
I pretty much did nothing except hang out with my friends until I started high school. And I loved filling my time with games and make believe and sleepovers and reading and making perfume out of bits of dead petals and detergent. The one activity I did do, Brownies, I hated and promptly dropped out.
I'm really in two minds about the whole extra-curricular activities circus. Part of me has a serious dose of "Keeping up with the Joneses", I see all the other kids around me following a tight schedule of weekly activities and I don't want my kids to - what? - not fulfill their potential, feel left out, get left behind... behind in what exactly...? And socialising our children has become yet another activity to add to the list, but surely being social is something that just happens naturally because they are in the world. It can all feel a bit like pushy parenting. So part of me thinks I should leave them be a few years more.
But the Joneses have it and yesterday I signed up Owen for dance classes starting in September and Matilda will continue with circus. I can see that she enjoys it, I suspect so will he. I keep telling myself, and them, that it is about their enjoyment. Their little lives are hectic enough without adding activities just for the sake of it. At their age I just want them to have fun and if they want to stop they can stop. In all honesty, I'm sure they would have just as much fun hanging out with each other or their friends but during free time it's hard to meet up with friends/cousins because they're all off doing activities! And so it spirals.
I'm not quite sure what I'm saying here really, and maybe in fact what I'm trying to say is something I've said before. There is a crazy pressure to make every second count for our children (I once read an article that claimed this was because modern parents see their kids as an extension of themselves, we seek vicarious fulfillment and affirmation through our progeny) and that seems to mean our children have to be constantly involved in "Activities" that develop their artistic, physical or social abilities in a more or less structured and measurable way. But maybe, rather than always being behind our children, urging them on, we should simply live alongside them a bit more, allowing them to count their seconds as they wish.