For now, the kids are back in school, extracurricular activities are back on, gyms are opening up, and some people are heading back to the office…and so…the rat race starts all over again!
COVID definitely added some perspective about how to get creative with your time and family. Speaking with some friends, it seems like most actually kind of enjoyed not running around to every event or activity, racing through dinner just to be somewhere then rushing off to bed forgetting about homework or whatever just to wake up and do it all again! Life was slower for a short while. I found it interesting just how much fun we created around our house just hanging out with ourselves.
We took a break from all of our extra commitments over the summer. I have to admit, there was a part of me that missed the structure or even chaos of having more on the go. On the other hand, I thoroughly enjoyed not having to be anywhere at any specific time. Despite being able to chillax and slow life down, I could also tell that the kids were a bit bored. Prior to COVID, they had grown accustomed to the “fast paced, instant gratification, get this from here or that from there, maybe even a dinner out between activities” kind of life. During COVID, suddenly all that they knew about filling their time was gone.
As much as I know that some of the rat race is unavoidable, I would like to resist it or at least minimize it if at all possible.
I struggle with the balance of having my kids registered in extracurriculars and having my own sanity.
We all put our own expectations on our kids to a certain extent. “We want them to play an instrument”, or “we want them on a sports team”, or “They should really learn something new”, even “They need life skills like swimming”. Then kids always surprise us with their own interests, or different ideas for how they want to spend their time. All of a sudden, they could be involved in 3-5 different activities, and multiply that by the number of kids…oh dear! Now you are literally running around every evening and weekend!
So, how do you control your time, support their interests and throw in some quality family time all at once??
Create some family agreed upon “non-negotiables”!
Use them to anchor your family. Create non-negotiable slow days or time off, or screen free time. Reserve a night for family dinners, or Sunday brunch, a Saturday hike or even a treat night. Whatever you decide, the whole family has to agree upon it. No matter what! Use some of the valuable perspective from COVID times to ensure your life and your time are filled with some of your own family priorities, not just filled running from thing to thing without a chance to breathe!
Use this chance to create some new routines or traditions and encourage everyone to get on board. Everyone in the family can help make it a priority. If you’re having a hard time coming up with some ideas, ask your kids what they liked best about being home from school. Or what their favourite thing was about having mom or dad working from home. It could help to figure out where the new family priorities may be.
Hopefully you can enjoy your new version of the old rat race!