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36 Comments

Good News/Bad News

The good news is, our baseball season is officially over. The bad news is, they lost their game last night — the one that started on Sunday and lasted a total of five hours when all was said and done. It was a close game; it could have been anyone’s win right up until the last ball was pitched. The best thing I can say about the situation is that we lost to the kind of team you don’t mind losing to. They were good sports, and they played a good game. And our boys also played a good game. Their  time was up, that’s all.

david baseball

Still, it’s pretty demoralizing to go the entire season undefeated and then lose two in a row at the beginning of the playoffs.  I guess being the team to beat isn’t necessarily an advantage.  But then, I think I’m probably taking it harder than my son.  He’s already moved on.

I have to admit, I’m glad that our week won’t be tied up at the ball field, and I’m also glad to be done with the stress of each game.  They’re too young for that kind of pressure.  Either they’re too young for it, or I’m too old, but one way or the other, I’m glad it’s over – for this year at least.

Last night as I drove home in the dusk with fireflies blinking over the newly planted cornfields and cool night air blowing through our open windows, it occurred to me that perhaps kids were better off before adults started interfering in their games. It just seems awfully stressful.

We keep it pretty low-key around here.  We try not to let the kids’ activities rule our lives, and yet when we make a commitment to a team, we do our best to honor that commitment.  I know that as my son gets older, there will be hard decisions to make — Sunday games, All Stars, traveling teams, there are all sorts of ways to keep the kids on the road and the family disconnected.  I don’t want to deprive my kids of great opportunities for growth, but neither do I want our family to be slave to their sports schedules.

How do you walk this fine line?  Do you let your kids do anything they want to do and feel it’s your duty as a parent to get them there on time?  Do you limit the number of activities they can do?  Do you discourage them from activities that take a larger time commitment?  I’d love to know.

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36 thoughts on “Good News/Bad News

  1. I’m no expert whatsoever as mine are only 5 and 7 but so far we do one activity at a time but only if they are begging for it. I’m not putting them in something unless they really want to. And once I’ve paid and committed..they’re in it for the long haul.

  2. We only let a child do one thing at a time. But this spring I had two in soccer in one city and one in baseball in our hometown. It was an insane few weeks. Luckily the fall is looking a “little” brighter. Only two in soccer and the girls may do ballet which won’t interfere with evening stuff (or shouldn’t). It is hard though. Soccer is over for us but baseball goes on till the end of June and then a tournament in July, I think.

  3. Balance is hard to find, but one thing my family never wavered on was our commitment to worship God on Sundays. Church was always our #1 priority and if a sport or some other activity tried to conflict with that, we took it as a sign that it wasn’t where God wanted us.

    1. Yeah, I think I’m with you there, fortunately our Sunday games haven’t yet conflicted with church. I’d still like to keep Sunday activity-free (except for church activities, of course) but my husband didn’t agree, and since he was willing to do the running, I didn’t make an issue. I don’t think we would take part if it interfered with church, though.

  4. We have a strong aversion to being over-committed, but then again, we’re the family that’s always there, always on time, always prepared. B/c we were both teachers, we’d seen too many families/kids stressing about playing 3 sports year-round, doing dance/piano/band/chorus simultaneously. There’s no family time at HOME, and way too much junk food consumed in the car. I didn’t want that to be my kids’ childhoods. Generally, we let them do ONE thing each, at a time. Once they joined up, they were committed and couldn’t quit until the season/year was up.

    Some people are crazy for sports and that’s fine. We just aren’t. Our choices fit our family.

  5. Right now mine are only 5 and 2 so it isn’t a problem. Baby Girl is in dance, but that’s it. Like someone mentioned previously, our plan is to allow one activity at a time and see how it goes.

  6. Golly if that precious boy does not look exactly like you! What a handsome boy.

    We do not let out childrens’ activities rule our lives. Our boys really only have one thing that they like to do and that is dirtbike riding, a dangerous expensive sport. We do encourage them because they enjoy it so much.

  7. As a mother of three adolescents (14, 12, and 11) I feel like we are always swimming upstream in this area. When our boys were younger we made the decision to stick with recreational baseball and not join a travel team. I don’t think that decision will inhibit their growth as human beings but it did seem to put them in a “lower level” when it comes to making school teams as they have gotten older. It’s sad that middle school kids have to actually make a name for themselves and prove themselves to adults in order to be considered for school teams. It’s all who you know and who knows you! BUT I refuse to let entire weekends and especially church time on Sundays be consumed by a travel team! Not to mention the money people spend on these things! Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now!

  8. Been there and I do think I get more stressed about the events then the kids. When Ben was a senior I cried when they lost the last soccer game in playoffs. As a mom ( or parent) you just want things to not be painful and I think that in someway the loss of a game is symbolic of all the losses they will face in life. And we just hope those losses will be bearable. Certainly the sports losses are that and lesson in how to get through it all gracefully. For me it was an absolute honor to watch Ben play soccer. I told him that after that last game. I cried because it was a step into the next part of his life: college and impending adulthood. Bittersweet – and we are never prepared for it!
    Love the pic of your son he looks joyous!

  9. I will just say this, my oldest step-son was a big ice hockey player. He loved the game and he was good. So my husband, living vicariously through his son in my opinion, went all out with his hockey. He traveled all over the US and to Canada, Sweden and Finland.

    Lots and lots of time and money was spent. And what happened – he went away to college and did NOT play on the ice hockey team because he wanted to be able to come home on weekends to see his girlfriend.

    Needless to say, my husband learned his lesson.

  10. We also subscribe to the one activity at a time policy. So far since my kids are a bit younger that hasn’t been an issue. It seems crazy to me how time consuming and serious these sports get at a really young age. Maybe I have just forgotten but it doesn’t seem like it was like that when I was younger.

    1. They seem to take it a lot more seriously these days. I mean, my husband did EVERYTHING when he was young. Played almost every sport, was in band, I can’t even keep up with what all he did. And he was one of 4 kids who were all equally active. But I think things were not as intense.

  11. I’ve never wanted to be over-committed. Before parenting, I had a “when I’m a parent” rule: only one extra-curric at a time. But I never considered how limiting that can be. My kids swim year round, once a week. For fun, for exercise (and, previously, for safety.) Next year, Big starts Hebrew school. And they love their sports. I am definitely trying to keep it to one sport a season, but last fall Big wanted to participate in both Fall Ball (t-ball, where the Huz was a coach) and in Football. I dreaded scheduling conflicts.
    This spring was the first (of many, I’m sure) season where Big and Middle both played Tball. In different leagues. I’m nearly a sole soccer parent, Dad can’t be around often for sports. It wasn’t easy, driving around being, as you said, disconnected.
    So, I don’t have an answer. And I do wish for a simpler life. But I also want so badly to give them the opportunities that they want and that we value.
    I dread LIttle being old enough for extra-currics. I’ll have to look to you for lessons of sports with 3.

  12. With 15 & 16 yo daughters, we are in the mist of this right now and are thankful that our 16 yo has her license and a car. They play travel softball and rec volleyball. Our oldest would like to play softball in college but knows that even with her talent, she will most likely not get a scholorship for college unless it is through academics. We miss about 5 weeks of church during the summer but know that this is a short season in our lives. It is were our family is right now. We want to be together as a family and if that means we are at the ball field at 7am on Sunday morning, then that is what we do. We actually enjoy this time watching the sun come up knowing that it is only by God’s hand that we are given this opportunity to worship Him. Our daughter has even mentioned the feeling of peace in the outfield while she was playing.

  13. We actually just went through this. My son is almost 7 and made the All-Stars this year. We were excited and said yes (we have a 3 year old and my husband is a teacher so our summers are a little slower than others). However, our lives quickly became consumed with practices every day including Sunday. They wanted the kids to stay quiet during the day and skip swimming and other activities in order to have energy for practices, etc. When they asked us to commit to 4 weekends of games all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, we decided it was enough. Even though our son was thoroughly enjoying himself, our lives had become consumed. We had to put family visits on hold, and we just decided we couldn’t commit to missing 4 weeks of church. I cannot tell you the immediate relief we felt after resigning and how much nicer our summer has been without the pressure of All-Stars. Several of his coaches mentioned that they respect our commitment to church and while we didn’t need validation for our decision, it was nice to get.

    1. Interesting. And good for you for re-evaluating and being willing to cut bait when you realized it wasn’t for you.

  14. The one activity thing gets harder as they get more involved in school activities. I am very thankful my mom didn’t enforce that on me as I would have missed out on playing volleyball AND playing in the band, being on the newspaper staff and all sorts of other activities that started in earnest in 5th-6th grade.

    We don’t have hard and fast rules, we flex with the season. As long as it is something she is passionate about, we’ll go for it. I would put a limit on the travel club type teams for younger kids, but as she gets older it may be something we are open to doing.

    BTW…I found a local butcher!!! No more packaged meats for us:)

    1. Yeah, I like the one activity thing in theory but this year my son did band as well as basketball (winter) and baseball (spring) and I wouldn’t have wanted to make him choose.

      The real issue is having 3 kids. Even if we did only one activity, not that that’s even realistic, if you have 3 kids in one activity each, you’re still running around like crazy ppl.

  15. Sorry to hear that your DS’s team lost their last game:(

    Right now we have 2 boys playing ball (6 yo in T-ball & 11 yo in baseball).
    We limit to 1 activity at a time because we believe if you are involved in an activity you need to commit to BE THERE and not have to choose, such as do I go to my soccer game or baseball practice. I don’t think it is fair to make a child choose, and I do not think it is right to let down your team by randomly not showing up.
    My older son is one of the few that is always there, on time, ready to play and with a good attitude. Last year he got the Sportsmanship award for that very behavior and he was so proud. (me too!)
    With all that said, tonight starts our playoffs (eeeek!) then Sunday we roll right into All-Stars.

  16. My husband and I both played sports and even attended college via sports scholarships. I learned so many life lessons in sports. Truly sports have enriched my life and my families life.

    My husband and I were married 5 years before we had kids and we roller bladed, river rafted, and played adult league sports. I remember when our daughter was a baby and would lay on a blanket in the living room floor and we played nerf basketball around her. She would just smile and laugh. We are just a sporty family.

    As a family we are playing sports at home even when there isn’t any scheduled sports activities. My son has tried just about every sport you can name. Our rule is if you start you finish it. We play tennis, basketball, swim, soccer, and baseball so far. My son and I are starting karate together soon.

    I actually enjoy going to practice with my kids and either walk or run or snag balls during their practices. I don’t feel it is a burden on our family at all. We bond through the experiences because we are all there and plugged in. It isn’t just another activity or to do item but something we all enjoy.

    I am sure people judge us saying it is too much but at least 5 of 7 nights I sit down with both my kids and husband for dinner. We snuggle every night on the couch before bedtime. We avoid fast food with homemade sandwiches and fruit. I would rather spend my time being active and engaged than at home watching tv. The one draw back is we aren’t home alot but I truly feel if we are together and enjoying each other then not much is lost.

    My daughter plays competitive soccer. I don’t have a problem with try outs and making the a or b team or not making the team at all. These are lessons in life. I am not saying it isn’t heart breaking. It is. We have had some of the BEST talks over lost games and opportunities.

    Watching your children lose and getting upset is heart breaking. However, I find comfort in the fact that we her parents can talk her through it and help her learn from the experience. Even though I believe she is the best soccer player on the planet and the smartest kid in her class, she will fail at some aspects of her life or not be the best at something. It is what she learns and does afterward that shows her character.

    Please understand I am not judging others just want to share a different prospective on sports and kids. I am not saying I am right either. I just wanted to express what works for us. I think that is key you must find balance for your family.

    1. I agree that time at the ball field can be family time, but I also think there is value in free play, and I want my kids to have the opportunity to be at home and have unstructured play — lots of it.

      Also, with 3 kids in multiple activities, I don’t know how we would be able to go to their activities together. Seems like we would be going in different directions.

      I also don’t think it’s anyone’s place to judge you or anyone. We all have different energy levels and different perspectives, and that’s just fine! 🙂

  17. I only have one child, but we’ve always had the rule of “one event at a time”. Which is not realistic at this age. We held our breath and accepted the invitation to the travel team this year knowing we are going to Maine in early July (and around here sometimes tournaments go well into July).

    Extra practices for each separate team, not to mention weight lifting and prep for the following sport (football) seem to be taking precedence right now as well.

    I’m thankful we live in a small community and we really do all pool together to get the kids there (cuz parents are responsible to get their kids to the events – even if they are 2-3 hours away). We take care of each other’s kids before after practice making sure they have a ride there and a ride home. It really does take a village….

  18. Oh and about the pressure? OMG. My son is the catcher. HELP ME LORD. Pressure!!!

    I leave those games wiped OUT. You’d think I played in the dumb game as exhausted as I am.

  19. We were so lucky to find a local soccer league that has all of the practices and games at the same place. Most of the games are on Saturdays and there is a nice, shaded playground to keep the little kids occupied. That was the only way I could have 4 kids play soccer this past year. Turns out that there are a lot of larger families in this league for that very reason. So many of my friends’ children play that we take turns on the playground with the littles, carpool and even have potluck dinners on long practice or game days. It was busy, but I appreciated the time to catch up with friends and play outside with my little guys. Thankfully, everyone loves soccer. Not sure what I’m going to do when someone loses interest. I think if I had a child who was incredibly talented I would seek other options, but for now, everyone’s happy.

    I really don’t feel guilty for not having them involved in lots of activities. I think you set your child up for success better when you have a smooth, relaxed home environment where you actually spend a lot of time together as a family. Sports and activities are valuable but not at the expense of time at home. Our culture totally undervalues time spent working in the garden together, eating meals and just plain having some quiet, down time. Society does not see this as, “productive.” In my opinion, we do our children a major disservice when we don’t give our kids the opportunity to be still and be quiet. Our night time routine changed dramatically when we instituted a regular pre-bed quiet time where they can read or draw quietly. Sometimes they are all on their own, sometimes the older kids read to the younger ones, and sometimes my husband and I read to them. We don’t do it every single night without fail, but the nights that we do are so peaceful.

    I cannot recommend the book, “Simplicity Parenting” enough. That and, “Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry” have had a profound influence on me. Sort of affirming what I already desired for my family and giving me permission to let go of the guilt of my children not being active or involved, “enough.”

    One more thing, some people are just naturally high energy and can handle running around and staying busy…I am not one of those people. I think it’s important to take a good look at each child as an individual in that sense as well. If the child is high-energy, and staying busy seems to work, then go for it, but not all children thrive in that lifestyle.

  20. My rule is one sport at a time. No travel teams allowed. We can’t really do one activity at at time as we homeschool so music lessons and clubs are all on us. I do, however, limit their other activities though for their sanity and mine! My kids both play hockey and as such have missed a lot of Sunday morning games. I don’t mind them playing on a Sunday just not during church time.

  21. We have said that we would evaluate each sport/activity on a case-by-case basis. My kids bowl on the weekends September through April, but if we had the “One activity at a time” rule they wouldn’t be able to do anything during the week. That is not okay as we know that a lack of activity increases sleep problems.

    Right now Boo is playing traveling fastpitch and LOVES it. Since Hunter is not currently involved in any sports he comes to every game and even some practices. He was able to play “catcher” during pitching practice last night and loved it. Being at the games and practices together makes a huge difference.

    I am with you on the multiple kids in activities though. There comes a time where you have the think about what is best for YOUR family. If only allowing one child to do an activity at a time is what works, then that is what you do. As the middle of three kids I can tell you that my parents never did that, and it all worked out. Yes we ran a lot during each sport season, and you learned quickly that Mom may have to go watch a sibling but that doesn’t mean she likes them better. Each family is different, each child is different.

  22. You mentioned in a comment reply that the issue is having 3 kids. You are right. I don’t think that you can fight the busy monster when you have more than one.

    I just have 2, and because they are 5 1/2 years apart (6 grade levels), this was the first year we had conflict. I don’t even feel like we are busy, but we have BSF Bible study that Amanda and I did one night a week (and Kyle will join us next year, yea!), her with soccer and school band and other after-school at school stuff, and he had baseball this Spring.

    You can’t win, and I think it’s sort of crazy, but I don’t know what the answer is. Like you, I don’t want them to miss out.

  23. I thought I was ready for the season to be done. I thought I was going to enjoy having more time at home. But our kids have continued to rise to challenges and find ways to win. You should see how they encourage and help one another. My oldest loves baseball, whether he gets to play or not. I have seen kids that shouldn’t really have anything in common because of the age difference actually call one another after the game to talk and teach and rehash. Seeing the pure joy on their faces after these wins has made me feel kind of ashamed and selfish. I was too worried about me, and not what he was getting out of it. It works out for us because my youngest would rather draw than play, so we are not running around with 2 kids. Thanks for the food for thought.

  24. I have 3 kids – closely spaced- and this will be a huge issue as our younger two get older. Our kids can do 2 activities a year- or if they decide to do something like Boy Scouts that’s their activity for the year. I think that you really have to identify what is the most important thing to your family. Is it to give your kids new skills, meet new friends, or whatever they’re getting out of their activities. For us family time is very very important. My son would actually rather spend time with his dad than do a lot of activities. I’m not dogging on people that like activities, but we just feel like our family time is really really important. I really don’t know what we’ll do as our girls get older and what to do stuff too- we’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it.
    I do have a friend that does most of their activities during the summer. She finds classes/camps that are during the day so that they can still have family time at night- so that’s an option.

  25. We are right in the middle of this problem. Our oldest plays on a select team and we travel most weekends for tournaments. The games are on Saturdays and Sundays and this makes it hard to go to church as a family. When we do have an off weekend we go to church, no exceptions. I was really missing church and was torn between skipping baseball and watching my son play or going to be spiritually fed. I made the choice not to long ago that I would skip the Sunday games and take our youngest to church. If they were still playing when church let out then we meet up them. It’s hard sometimes to pick and the only advice I can give is pray alot!! Good luck and I’ll say a prayer for you.

  26. Thought of you tonight. Sigh. Our last league game was supposed to be tonight, but since we had 2 games rained out – we have a double header next Wednesday.

    And a new tournament was scheduled for when we are in Maine. Such is life.

    Sigh.

  27. Lots of comments I haven’t read yet. I’ll just share where we are, right now anyway.

    Each kid is allowed to participate in one sport per season. My girls also do Little Flowers (sort of like Girl Scouts), which meets every other week after school. We will let our sons also do Cub Scouts in addition to the one sport per season guideline. Of course any kid could choose to skip a season. My oldest daughter is making noise about dance again (we did it for 2 years) but I’m hoping we don’t go that way. It is expensive and time-consuming.

    So far this has been fairly easy to maintain. We are not worried about competitiveness and select teams and such, yet. My husband played baseball until he was a junior in high school. He was on All-Star teams and select teams. He looks back now and he enjoyed it, but realizes there were years when he played too much. It is SO easy to get caught up in thinking your kid has to be on the right team with the right coach to get a shot at playing a sport in high school. I suppose it is true to an extent, but I also think talent will always win out. So, as our kids show skill in certain sports (my 4 yo hasn’t found a sport he can’t play yet) we will be very watchful of our time.

    When my kids are on a team I do feel an obligation to be present at every practice and game and to be on time. It is a matter of respect for the coach and the team. They are expecting a full team and plan accordingly. Even when I had the baby my girls only missed one practice and my son missed one game, and that was an accident. Planning goes a long way. We’re lucky that so far practices and games usually only take two nights a week, and my girls have been on the same teams at times. We make it a priority for all of us to attend games together as much as possible, even when that means eating dinner at 4:30 and needing a snack when we get home.

    We love sports and we are glad our kids enjoy it, but we are constantly talking about what will work for our family and what our boundaries will be when it comes time to consider travel teams and so on.

  28. I’m back to whine. Because, you know, I’m so overtaxed with only ONE child and all. Heh.

    Anyway, last Wed we had to makeup some games from rain outs and that night the league said – oh by the way we start play offs tomorrow night (not even our coach knew) ….. sooooo Wed night double header, Thur game, Friday game. Then YESTERDAY my son played on the travel team 1 1/2 hours away all day in “feels like 94” heat and 80% humidity. Raced home to beat the tornado headed our way – hopped i the shower and then the sirens went off so we landed ourselves in the basement for a while.

    Monday, we go back to play-offs and those could easily go through Thurs depending on if we win.

    Let me just say, there’s not enough wicking in the world when it comes to this kind of heat and humidity.

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