Monday, January 26, 2015

What Do You Think?

With our 5 older bio kiddos we did many traveling and competitive sports and activities.

Soccer, Basketball, Dance and Golf.

We had many, many good experiences and some not so good experiences.
We learned from the good and from the not so good.
As we look back we are amazed how God actually orchestrated it all and brought lessons, personal growth and blessings from the trials.

The negative about traveling sports is the large amount of time that we had to put into them.
It took our older children away from our family time, holidays, Grandparents birthdays, church time and more.

As we entered a new phase of child rearing(adopting our treasures) we decide up front-
absolutely NO competitive or traveling sports/activities for this crew.
The hubby and I looked back at the times we could not recap with our older kids and felt we just did not want to repeat it at this point in our lives (fabulous 50's!).

We wanted a more peaceful existence.
Dinners together at home in the evening.
No one living and eating out of the car/van.
Time together to figure out the parenting, the bonding, and realizing our time with these guys is shorter than the first time around ; - (.....
We strive for balance in activities, learning, and meals.

When I am running around too much-
I get crabby...
and crabby doesn't work when I have 13 children that have already had a hard life before they came home.
They don't deserve it and neither do I.

We do however value activities where the children learn and have new experiences.
So I am NOT anti activity.
We do gymnastics, homeschool gym and swim, horseback riding lessons, swimming lessons, wildlife classes, keyboard(piano) and more.

Well, that is a compelling argument on why we should not enter into the world of competitive anything.

But, now that these children are home
and we see their love and passion for an activity
it's hard to not allow them... or her to pursue it.

I battle back and forth in my head.
Just say no and stick with the program.
It is too time consuming...
We have such a great life and time together.
Putting anything more on the family plate could backfire...


She is passionate about this...
We let the older kids follow their passions, how can we not let her follow her passion.
She is talented, she can do this.
How wonderful for her to compete in front of others
and learn first hand what it feels like to succeed and sometimes fail.
Those are the life lessons that we grow from.
It's good to keep a young teen busy with something that they love.

I am interested in your thoughts so please leave a comment here or on FB- if you can.

I will tell you what I think we are going to do...
Sarah will be 15 in March.
She is at the maturity of a wonderful 13 yr old- she is delightful!
She probably only has 2 more years to have this experience before she ages out.
And although I don't want many changes in our life (because it's good and it's working well).
We feel that she should try out for a gymnastics team if that is what she really wants to do.
We feel like she is ready to handle the ups and downs
(although with girls there will always be some tears over something).

She wants to be a world champion gymnast...
that's probably not going to happen
but this experience will at least give her a chance to compete.

It is a good thing to keep a 15 yr old busy, doing a healthy activity.
Otherwise they may find other things "to do"...
Many of the younger girls love gymnastics, too, so we will see how this goes first and then decide if others should do it.

Since I am already mourning the changes that will come in our schedule, I had to remind myself we still have the rest of this year and it won't happen until this coming summer...
For now, we will just enjoy the great schedule we have and look forward to the new changes that lie ahead.


K said...

Hmm. Quite a dilemma. I see both sides, as you do, too. Once on the competitive team, there will be more practices as well as the tournaments. But, the season isn't too long and hard as with other sports. It's also a sport others can easily follow, so if you have other kids along to watch, they will understand what they are seeing to a large extent.

Due to her age and the fact that she's earned it and wants it, if possible without running yourself ragged and sacrificing too much of what the other kids need, I encourage you to give it a try. If it doesn't work out or is too much for the family or she doesn't find it rewarding, you can always stop, but if the opportunity passes you by and you didn't try, you might regret it later.

Christine said...

Jean, my two girls did competitive gymnastics for years, until an injury sidelined one and the other decided, at 12, that she no longer wanted to spend 20+ hours a week at the gym and wanted time to pursue other activities. It was a wonderful sport for them and I am happy they had that experience. They were so proud of their skills and their strength (could do more pushups and pullups than any boy in their classes). They gained poise, learned to work hard and celebrate successes (theirs and teammates) but shrug off disappointments. Around us, there are many gyms with different levels of intensity. Some, like ours, compete every other weekend from November through April or May. Others may only send their girls to a few competitions a year. You may have options that are less demanding on your f
amily, so check those out.

Patti said...

Wow...first are one amazing Mama!!! I am just about to enter the fabulous 50s but do not have children other than my youngens so can not say that I have "been there done that". Having said that, what strikes me is that you note that your 15 yr old daughter wants to join the gymnastics team. In my opinion, she is of an age that needs to be listened to (and I say that with my oldest only being 10 yrs but I I have lots of older nieces and nephews). You have done an amazing job to ground her, and your other children, and to provide a great foundation for them to blossom. If she wants this and knows what it entails then I say "go for it"! Best of luck and look forward to following your journey!

Lisa said...

My dh and I decided this same thing with our youngers. My oldest 4 were very, very busy growing up. Lots of sports and dance and church activities and I ran myself ragged. I laughed when I read your comment about living and eating in the car - BTDT! That said, I am 48 and hubby will be 50 this yr and we are really feeling it (lol)! Our middles had many, many issues that made lots of activities (or even a few) impossible to negotiate and now with our youngest 3 we are really cautious about getting into anything that doesn't work out for our family. Our youngest has entered the world of school sports (at his small parochial school) this year and we're already a bit uncomfortable with the level of competition we are seeing. I think you are taking a very thoughtful approach to this dilema so far and you ultimately need to do what feels right for your family. You seem to have the kids in alot of other fun activities already and the medical issues that you have to run around for would be overwhelming to me. Also, don't forget about the two new additions (how could you? lol) coming soon and how that will already impact the dynamics of your already large gang :)

Karen Twombly said...

I have a much smaller family...we have 7 children. The first 3 ran around in sports. We adopted our younger 4 all at once and made a similar decision. We had 2 really wanted to do soccer so we chose a league that was low key and didn't play or practice on Sunday. But that is their sport and every season doesn't bring in a new schedule for the family. So, we are allowing it, but controlling it.
It's a big decision. I admire your thoughtfulness for your family that comes through in your writing and appreciate you sharing for the rest of us. It is very encouraging to me. :)
Karen Twombly

EHedden said...

I say let her try. Competitive gymnastics has a time consuming, year round practice schedule but you can find teams that only compete in 6 to 8 meets a year. The problem comes in when your other children want to compete. Then instead of one meet on the weekend you have several sessions at the same meet due to various competitive levels and age brackets. Wow! This is a BIG decision for you.

Brenda Fung said...

Ok, well I don't have the added complication of 700 kids like you :) but we have still struggled with the issue of recreational activities versus competitive activities.

In the end, hubby and I have decided to make the choice based on time, maturity, cost, availability of time, etc., just like it sounds like you're doing.

We pulled our eldest out of figure skating just as she was to go into competitive level. She has a learning disability and we were worried that the time required (25 hours / week) for skating would take up valuable homework time and/or just downtime that she needs to keep her focus at school. That was 2 years ago.

Since then, she has become a proficient equestrienne. She rides several times a week. She is also now competing in some local shows. We decided to let her because animals will likely feature in her future (she wants to own a horse farm), and also because it's had a positive impact on her confidence level, even when she doesn't win. Hubby and I have preset our "pain point" in terms of both cost and time that we are prepared to dedicate to her riding.

It sounds as though you've given the idea great consideration. I hope she LOVES the gymnastics team :)

The good thing is, at 15, she is past the age that a coach is going to say "give me 25 hours a week with her and I'll turn her into an Olympian" so she can just enjoy the activity.


PB & Ace said...

I am a competitive gymnast and train 20+ hours a week. Gymnastics has taught me so much. It has taught me how to really work hard and to never give up on my goals. There are so many days when my body aches and my hands hurt, but in the end it's been worth it. My older sister is also a competitive gymnasts, she trains less hours a week, but between school, music, and gymnastics, we're both pretty busy. Tell you girls to just have fun and enjoy it, I'm sure they'll love it! ~Allie, a girl who enjoys reading your blog :)

Holly said...

Only five kids and a dairy farm but our survival rules generally read like this: If all or most can do it, we try to make it work (soccer, piano lessons, music camp). If it's something that revolves around 1 child, we will generally give it a miss unless it is very short term. If it generally happens on Sunday (the one day dad has off except for choring) we usually give it a miss to spend time together. However, this is something that works for us! I have seen wonderful results for other families that operate differently. Sometimes it's worth it to give something a try when your heart feels torn.

Emily said...

Here's my two cents' worth! I totally get the importance of the choice you have made for your family. It's a great choice, especially with the previous experiences that your kiddos have. They need you to be at your best, and the lifestyle you have chosen is, without a doubt, a most excellent choice. That said, there might just be some exceptions. We have a small family compared to yours (only 6 kids..only...hee hee!). We've made similar choices for our family. We've found that with a large family, you have to evaluate the individual needs of each child. We can't do different sports for all our kids. That has meant saying no to the one who wants to play soccer, but saying yes to the four (plus hubby and me) to karate. We've said no to competitive gymnastics, but yes to recreational gymnastics for now, which three can participate in at the same time. One is doing musical theater at her school because it is offered right after school, and gets her home in time for family dinner. There's no way in the world you're going to be able to do competitive sports with all 13 of your kids. However, there might be a few that some competition is really good for. It seems as though Sarah would really benefit from being able to compete. As a former competitive gymnast, I can say that the competition--both successes and failures--taught me so much about the reality of life, and really helped shape my character...and all in good ways. It is worth a shot, and if it ends up being a negative experience, you can always pull back.

Anita said...

Frequent reader, infrequent commenter here :-). One thing to consider... which you probably have already but just in case... are you planning to let Sarah start driving at 16, and if so, would that make the choice easier (i.e., she can drive herself to/from practice at that point, and if any of the younger girls join as well, she could drive them if practice is at the same time). We only have 3 kids but I totally understand you on the push and pull between family time, sanity for mom, and wanting the kids to have those experiences. I am so glad that my kids were not into competitive soccer as that one seems to be every weekend most of the year. Anyway, good luck figuring it out. I enjoy reading about your family.

Jenny said...

My sister did competitive gymnastics and I don't think it was a fair balance for our family with only three children. With a really large family, it makes everyone cater to one child and gymnastics, or any other sport, is only a small part of life - it need not be treated as if it's large. Your family needs to remain the priority above any sport. I "only" have 11 and I wouldn't even consider it.

Suzanne said...

Gosh this is a hard one. I would probably not, because all those eyes are watching you and what you do for one, you will need to do for another. And soon that will mean meals in the car. I only have one, and we only do one activity right now, but it's two days a week, and I can definitely tell that it puts a kink in our get-a-long. (But I am also juggling an out of the home career).

Caroline said...

I have five kiddos. My one son does soccer and it is only twice a week. Easy peasy. I also have four daughters in gymnastics. One is on the junior Olympic track and works out every day for 3.5 hours. I have another daughter who is not really built for the sport but loves it. She does the XCEL team. That is what Sarah would be doing. She is too old for the JO program. Sabina works out only three days a week for two hours. She only has to do two meets a year to qualify for states. It is easy peasy. I have another on preteam and one more in toddler classes. I am there a lot. Something to consider is getting a person to help with driving. We have a helper who drives them to practices and my hubby picks up. I don't think you would have too much of a comittment with the XCEL program.

Another thing I have done is tried to focus my kiddos on the same sport. Then they all go to the same place. This helps.

Good luck!

Wendy said...

We allowed each child (we have four) to do one activity but they had the condition that they needed to work hard on it and take it seriously. It does mean lots of evenings away from the dining room table but it also means lots of memories watching them doing what they love to do and seeing them excel which is a lot of fun. I do hear you is much more relaxing to be able to spend the time without having to run all over...I think, we as parents see that but the children really don't....they just want to do what they want to do. Good luck making these tough choices.

ZetteLolo said...

Love your choices ! Evenwithout bio kid, we made the smae choice with our daughter. She wanted to dance and learn music (saxophon) ...OK, but it must be a funny activity... she plays and dances with pleasure and fun, we are OK;... I'm nt (and don't want to be) this Mom I see at the danse school : "my daughter has to be the best, I chose dance - ballet - for her because that sort of "military attitude" is necessary for kids..." ...
No,no, and no... our kids have enough with school to be so serious, they must habe fun the rest of the week... and they learn so much more with fun !!!

Sammy said...

If the activities take them away from church--God then no way! These are scary times and God/church has to be #1. Even with all that there are no guarantees kids will stay out of trouble, but at least it helps a lot. : - )

From the Erben Gang..... said...

I understand your struggle. But I know how thoughtful you are. I do think its important for teenagers to exercise (regularly! otherwise they seem moody) and it sounds wonderful for her to have something for herself, something she is passionate about. I think the lessons will be priceless. I also know that you will change course if it doesn't seem to be working. What do you have to lose?

Megan said...

I'm enjoying the comments about this post, as this is something I think about often. Even with *only* five kids, there's a fine line between allowing kids to be involved in activities while still preserving family time (and free time!). Always a delicate balance, and I'm still learning!! I'll be anxious to hear what Sarah ends up doing.

Great to see you all at the Chinese restaurant last Saturday :)

Jolene said...

We have the same sports policy. We have the children in a variety of summer camps, one in horseclub and horseback riding lessons, one in YMCA basketball (no traveling!), and eventually one child will get music/voice/singing lessons...we try to allow them activity that doesn't require tons of sacrifice simply for the sake of the activity....but there can always be exceptions.

andrea said...

I couldn't agree more. Thank you for writing this post. We have done the same thing and couldn't be happier. Our simpler life is filled with Christ, family dinner, family game night, movie night, church activities, having friends over to play....etc. i realize more & more my grandma was right all the time. The walton's had it right.
God Bless you and your beautiful family

dkhunt97 said...

Although competitive sports can inhibit quiet family evenings, they can also create many opportunities for outreach. We have met many families, been able to minister to them and even lead a few to Christ through our involvement with competitive sports. It will lead to many challenges, but when given the proper emphasis in life, it can be a blessing to everyone involved.