Unscheduling

This morning while packing lunch boxes, making waffles, and overseeing a fairy game under my feet, I listened to a report on NPR about sleep deprivation in children. It’s no surprise, really. Our 24-7 world isn’t good for us. Shocker. Kids need sleep. Parents do, too. The problem is our scheduling. Or, more specifically, our overscheduling.

Like most things in parenting, it’s a tough balance between ‘will Piper be ready for Harvard?’ and ‘has Piper licked up enough dirt in the backyard today?’ I want both. But I have to prioritize. I worry all the time if I’m choosing wisely. I protect our down time fiercely. Two afternoons a week Piper and Sissy have activities. They choose. Mad Science, ballet, piano. Two afternoons a week they don’t. I choose. Board games, books, library, walks. Fridays are always, always for play dates and fun. Saturdays are a mad catch up day. Sometimes I blow off a whole day of scheduled events for a day of nothing. Sometimes we spend all day at a museum downtown. I don’t know if these are the best solutions. I just know what my gut and my kids feel.

Every day I receive another announcement in the mail about the awesome summer camps and summer opportunities in our community. I’ve lived in plenty of places without any such offerings. I would have driven an obscene amount of miles in rural Illinois for a real Math Camp. Now I have six in my backyard. It doesn’t make the decision any easier. What I do notice is how many excuses I find for NOT putting Piper in back-to-back-to-back camps over the summer. It’s too expensive. She doesn’t want to go. We’re traveling. I don’t want to battle DC traffic. Some of my excuses are more valid than others. My goals are always the same. I want to slow things down. I want some balance among the fray. I want Piper and Sissy to not feel as wedded to the clock as I do.

This morning at breakfast Piper analyzed the equal or not so equal distribution of Nutella among the squares in her homemade waffle. It mattered. The perfect bite is not so perfect if it doesn’t have the correct amount of chocolate hazelnut spread. Then we discussed the rationale behind my insistence that she use either a paper napkin or a brown towel (not the new white towels!) to clean the Nutella smears from her face. It was a lesson in logic and consequences. Piper had 42 questions. Sissy answered 41 of them. I waited for my espresso to kick in. And I wondered out loud if making a homemade whole wheat waffle countered the processed sugar spread? I still don’t know, but Piper and Sissy seemed content with the choice.

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