I don’t know any parents who don’t juggle – work schedules, carpools, volunteer work. It can leave one breathless. In our house, we juggle for real. My husband is a stay-at-home dad by day and a comic juggler by night. So there is a lot of juggling going on!
I admit, I thrive on a certain level of busyness, though I am now trying to do so without burning the proverbial candle at both ends. I’m no use to anyone if I’m exhausted.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree it seems. My teenagers do their fair share of metaphorical juggling, and sometimes I wonder if they’ve taken on too much. I often tell them, you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. Sometimes I think I should iron it on to a T-shirt for them.
They juggle three nights of dance classes, piano lessons, hockey – not to mention Me to We Club, student council, school dance ensemble and school show rehearsals. Oh yes, then there’s homework and part-time jobs. And their friends are very important to them.
Lest you think I’m signing them up for all of these classes so they’ll build their résumé and get into a good school, I’m not. I’ve repeatedly asked if they want to scale back their number of dance classes per week, and that is always met with a resounding no. When our older daughter had gone as far as she wanted to with piano lessons, I helped her say the words to quit. She had too many competing interests but found it hard to give it up. It was an important chance for her to learn to say ‘enough.’
I console myself that there are benefits of this juggling act. For one, they have a wide circle of friends outside school. Dance and hockey have introduced them to girls from all over the city (as well as providing the obvious benefit of physical fitness and teamwork).
Second, they are learning time management skills. Like me, they are more productive when they are busy.
Third, staying busy means they don’t have a lot of time to get into trouble, and they treasure their down time (don’t get me wrong, it’s usually spent loafing in front of the TV, but still).
Much has been written about kids today not having the time to be bored, not having the time to explore their thoughts and feelings without checking their Facebook page. Ironically, my husband taught himself to juggle in high school because he had hours and hours of spare time (plus a driving desire to learn). I don’t think that situation would present itself to our girls – or their peers.
Already they are experiencing the challenge of finding that elusive work-life balance. I hope that as I grow to appreciate downtime more, they’ll pick up on it, too.