Saturday, August 2, 2008

Soapbox: Too Much, Too Early

Soapbox = You may not want to read this posting because I may offend you with the opinion I am about to give ...

There are many reasons we are in Mexico for 1 year. One is to Slow Down. We started Oldest Son on the socialization track at age 4. By age 8 - he had played 10 soccer seasons, 4 baseball seasons and countless other activities and events. Then came Youngest Son and we started the same thing with him. So now we had twice the number of events.

We eventually stopped the many camping trips we had always taken since kids born. We stopped going to museums, zoos, aquariums, concerts ... our weekends were always booked. The kids are only 8 and 6!!!

No Extracurricular Activities in Mexico. That is the rule. We want our weekends back!

Yes, you are right. We CHOSE to do all those activities. You are so right. Mia Culpa. Do not get me wrong. Our kids are well rounded and we all had many, many fun wonderful experiences. More importantly, we all made many special friends through these years. But. I am tired.

So, how is it going so far? The kids have No Activities. These are my observations in just over one week:

- Play: The kids are having a great time playing together. They have not complained once. And we are not at the pool or beach all the time - adults still have to work.

- Chores: We have set higher expectations on their contributions to household chores. They are meeting and exceeding expectations. I think the biggest barrier in USA is we were just moving so fast from one event to the other that it was easier for us to just do it. Kids take longer. You have to Give Them the Time.

- Jewish Home Rituals: We have celebrated Shabbat and Havdalah faithfully. Oldest Son is reading the Shabbat Prayer book and we DANCED after Shabbat last night - around and around. We never did Havdalah in USA. We usually had something going on Saturdays or were just too tired. Youngest Son eagerly prompted us tonight for Havdalah.

- Reading: Husband is reading a Spanish book every night to Kids. Oldest Son then reads his book of choice silently (he has read 8 books in the series Animorphs since we arrived.) I read an English book to Youngest Son as we snuggle in his bed. We are reading about Juan Bobo (Puerto Rico folk tales.) Juan Bobo is naughty like Youngest Son so Youngest Son loves it! I personally have finished a book just for me and have started a 2nd.

- Family Outings: We spent entire day just hanging out at local village and beach. No agenda. Youngest Son sang like 8 verses of "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain" on our way. I was just so thrilled to be there to listen. Oldest Son found Rubber Ball in ocean. He was so proud. Kids played and played with it outside when we got home. So what? In USA they had several balls just like this - the difference is Oldest Son acquired it himself in an "adventure."

I think we just start too much too early in USA. I am all for enriching our kids. But do we have to start at age 4? Could we just wait until say 10?

So - we will continue to see how this evolves for our family in Mexico.

And ultimately, we will see how it affects our lives upon return in a year.

Not sure how this particular Soapbox will play out. I am always open to learnings and change.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

My son loved the Animorphs too. I have to say you have done a good job with your boys, they know how to entertain themselves and have fun, that is so nice. I think one of the things I would change about my parenting if I could go back in time is give my kids more chores. I think it helps them with so many things. Also cooking with kids is great fun, my daughter learned fractions way before they were taught in school by cooking. I still remember her saying "Mommy, a 1/4 cup is half of a half cup!" is that cool or what?
I hope that this "experiment" continues in the same positive vein it's started in.

Jenn;0) said...

You sound like you are really enjoying things there! I really hope that you can keep things going this way for the remainder of the year, and also that you are able and willing to bring the experiences and learnings back with you!


Beth said...

I loved this post!

The huge time constraints are one of my big concerns as well. It seems that there is never time for family time, and that's one of the things we are truly enjoying on this vacation. But I have to wonder, do you need to be on vacation to have family time? Back in Canada, it seems that the answer to that is yes. Jobs, school, activities, sports, obligations, on and on and on.

I'm not saying that a life in Mexico wouldn't have constraints on our time as well, but LIFE is just so much more laid back here.

CONGRATULATIONS to you and your family for jumping in to a quieter mexican life!

Fat Doctor said...

We have purposefully avoided structured group activities for Son outside of school. Partially it's our laziness. But we see what it does to some of our nieces and nephews.

One niece, age 14, has tried and quit soccer, softball, swimming,diving, gymnastics, dance, golf, art lessons, piano lessons.

Keep in mind, she was good at all of those activities, but she was so scheduled she couldn't enjoy any of them.

Son is blissfully happy finding cool rocks in the back yard, riding his scooter on the sidewalk or making his own "bowling alley" out of canned goods in the living room.

He plays all day at preschool, and that is his work now. When he is home, we just let him do his own thing. What he comes up with is priceless.

We look forward to age 5, when we will enroll him in soccer. We will start piano lessons when he is old enough to pay attention. Other than that, we'll just let him tell us what he wants when he is ready.

As for household chores, we can't get ourselves to do them and Son seems to have inherited that.

Sorry for such a long comment. Glad you are enjoying your adventure. Love the blog!