Please Stop Over-scheduling Your Child Because You Need Friends
I was recently interviewed about a non-profit group that I’m part of that focuses on the connections and camaraderie of motherhood – mom to mom. In other words, “my mommy group.” It occurred to me that this is the key to my moms’ group that is very different from other groups I see advertised. I think the reason is meaningful enough to share with all of you too.
Our kids today are losing much of the freedom of childhood that many of us experienced as children. There is very little unstructured time left for kids. I think this is due to so many factors that have changed in society, including a shift to the structures of families, neighborhoods, and communities.
Children are signed up for play dates and enrolled in music classes, organized sports, and other early childhood programs more than past generations. Obviously socialization is great for the kids and it's what keeps us all from going insane, however I also think there's a new fervor in recent years where we end up tiring ourselves out running from place to place all day long or squeezing in a dance class after work somehow between dinner and bedtime. What it really comes down to is that many of us are simply craving that connection with other adult humans. Totally valid, right?
As I became a mom, it became important for me to put less on my children’s schedule, and my own, so that we all could have more of that unstructured time that is really critical to early childhood in particular. The group I belong to is different than other groups because while yes, we do have playgroups and family events; the group is centered on the connections we make with other adults through evening and weekend events.
The relationships built in these moments where we are uninterrupted by children are what fulfill the need in my life for honest and open relationships and make getting through those days, that can sometimes feel really long and lonely in the first 5 years of motherhood especially, a lot easier and more manageable. With these relationships solidifying my own foundation as a mom, I feel like I'm better able to meet the needs of my kids and stand confident in my decisions as a parent.
I understand the real constraints that make finding a group like this hard, and I still think the effort is worth it, even if it is something you have to create yourself.
Years ago, I learned a simple question from early childhood rockstar Holly Elissa Bruno that helped me navigate daily decisions as a childcare director, “Is this in the best interest of the children?” So please, for the love of childhood, really pause and ask yourself this. If you’re signing your child up for all the things because you need to feel connected, please stop. Find other ways to create meaningful connection in your life.