We Stopped “Enrichment” Activities and the Results Were Surprising


For most of Miss H and Mr. B’s lives it has been one activity after another. A long, endless string  of  “enriching” their lives.

Miss H is so social and so vivacious and she excels at everything she tries. I always just let her go-go-go and self regulate. And it worked.

For her.

The addition of Sweet M eleven months ago (to the day!) really made me slow down.

At first I thought I was letting my kids down by lessening our schedule. I feared they’re resent me. They’d learn less. Know less. God forbid H didn’t learn how to do a back handspring before her 7th birthday!

And not even because I wanted these things for them. But because they seemed to want them and I didn’t ever want to take away from them. I wanted them to have the ability to do everything under the sun that they could possibly dream up. To try it all.

Trying wasn’t the problem. They’d try it. Then fall in love. And it would become a permanent weekly event until suddenly we had no free week nights anymore.

We weren’t spending time just being.

I was rushing to feed them, ordering carry-out or drive-thru far more than I would ever want, just so I could shuffle them from one place to the next.

And for what?

Sure, it was fun.

Yes, of course, they enjoyed it.

But we needed to enjoy each other.

We needed time as a family.

And sitting on the sidelines cheering one another on was not the time we needed.

Of course that has its own merit and value. But, for me anyway, it just doesn’t outweigh good ol’ fashion family time.

And so during the fall we began dropping activities left and right.

I waited for the uproar. The resistance. The pleading to please let them continue on.

You know what?

It never came.

They both remained in music lesson’s: Miss H in piano and Mr. B in ukulele.

And H kept on with Girl Scouts.

And that’s it!

The changes that have come about from what seemed like something so small, has been so vast and welcoming. And changes I hadn’t quite expected.

We rely on television way less. I find the kids playing; engaging and running and using their imaginations. They rarely request TV. Maybe because they don’t need the mind-numbing ability to zone out after a stressful day because there is just so much less going on.

They’re getting along better. Sure, they’re kids, and they quibble. But we had moments going on when I seriously could not figure out where my sweet, loving children whom adored each other had gone. Now it’s not uncommon to go several days without hearing an argument from them.

They’re more helpful. They help around the house without being asked more often. They pick up after themselves and their baby brother with little to no  prompting. They ask what they can do to help out.

I’m happier. Silly, right? You’d think I wouldn’t have gained much since I had the power of the busy life all along. And yet. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Like I can breathe and just be.

It’s okay to just let them be.

The obvious perks are we are back to eating better. I have more time to fix meals and prepare lunches for the next day.

The kids are better rested.

I so greatly feared it would be a disaster. I feared I would be ruining them. Their childhoods.

But I feel like I’ve given them a gift.

Their childhoods.

In all of its simplistic wonders, they are free to play in the rain and build Legos to their hearts content. They dice tomatoes and scramble eggs and read books. They build forts and create games and dance like there is no tomorrow.

Things they did in between their slew of activities, sure.

But now they get to do them without time limitations. Without having to abruptly stop so we can dash somewhere else.

I’m enriching their lives by letting them enjoy them. There will be a time and a place for activities in the future, I’m sure. But for now, we just get to focus on being a family and fostering relationships with one another. And that’s an amazing enrichment all of its own.

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