B is for Balance

As a college instructor, my students teach me things on a daily basis (unfortunately, I worry, much more than I teach them). Some of it is fantastic, entertaining, and even inspiring. More often though, it is frustrating and sometimes downright shocking. In teaching dual credit (high school students who are taking college courses from me for credit), I find a recurring theme that unfortunately falls into the frustrating category: students and parents have forgotten what extracurricular means.

Several times a semester I receive an email from one of my students telling me that they are behind (and usually failing) in my class because they had extracurricular activities that required their attention. They say this as if I am a crazypants for even expecting them to do academic work when there were tournaments and festivals to attend. It takes every ounce of self-control for me not to point out the “extra” part of extracurricular. Part of the problem is that many of these kids participate in four or five activities, meaning that one week they are gone from my class for UIL, the next golf.

Let me say before I go any further that I am certainly not saying students shouldn’t have outside activities. They absolutely should. But when those activities overwhelm the education aspect of the school experience, I think it’s gone too far. And it’s not just in high school; when I hear other mothers discuss all the things their kids are involved in, I feel that wash of epic parenting fail. Should my six-year-old daughter be doing music, swimming, softball, art, gymnastics, and dance? Is it my job as her mother to enlist her in a buffet of activities so she will be well-rounded?

Maybe I should, but for now, I’m not going to. She takes dance once a week and with trying to acclimate to life as a Kindergartener, that seems like enough. This summer perhaps she can try some mini camps of various activities to get a feel for them; however, I’m not in any rush to fill up her schedule. Certainly kids should try things and discover their interests and talents, but like adults, they must learn to balance and prioritize.

I have to remind myself of this all the time–there are choices that must be made and those choices have consequences, for good or bad. There are certainly times when I feel out of balance with myself and the world, such as when I’ve let my work take over every last ounce of my brain or I pretend there aren’t emails to be answered and lessons to be planned. Even more often, I let the me who is not mother/wife/teacher fall through the cracks. Last night I came home from a beating of a day with sore muscles and a headache, feeling like I was drowning in obligations from both sides. In the back of mind I had a red light flashing “B IS FOR BLOG,” knowing that there was a good chance I’d space on this post and end up throwing up some last minute flake-out (B is for Boring). And then I remembered why I started Generation Cake almost three years ago–I wanted a place to find balance between all the roles, the curriculars and extracurriculars, the parts of myself that made me, well, me. Sometimes I just need a reminder.



Categories: Get Smart, Life and Other Nonsense, The Little People and Furry Friends | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “B is for Balance

  1. amyctilson

    Yes! A friend just reposted today about how comparison will rob your joy and just kick you in the teeth. We also need balance in our mind when we look around at the Pinterest v. real worlds that come at us full force. Sadly, balance is becoming a lost art all because we are not paying attention.

    • Pinterest vs. the real world is so true. I honestly think the more things we add to the pile, the more we try to multi-task, the more we lost touch with what’s really important. Thanks for visiting again.

  2. Tasha

    My post today was on balance as well. It’s nice to read someone else’s perspective. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Yes! Balance is so important! My kids are still little, but as they present the list of activities they want to do, I have to remind them that there’s got to be time to just BE KIDS! I hope that by teaching them to say no now, they won’t be the kids emailing you later.

    • When I was a kid I did like one thing during the school year. In high school it was maybe two or three. My soon to be three-year-old will probably start one short activity next year when he starts preschool to help him work on cooperation and following directions. But that’s pretty much it. As you said–let them have time to be kids! Thanks for stopping by.

  4. sherileec

    Balance is such a tricky thing. Some times in our lives it seems easier to achieve than at others. During the kid-raising years it seems especially tough, so I can only imagine that looking from your perspective out onto students’ lives and hearing their complaints about not getting things done… well, I am sure it’s hard not to laugh sometimes.

    • Let’s just say sometimes I’m glad my undergrad degree is in acting. I think my personal favorite was the student who came to class after being gone for three weeks and said, “My brother’s baby mama is gonna have a baby soon and I had to go help.” What? I’m pretty sure I tilted my head like a dog for that one. Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Carolyn Paul Branch

    Balance is about choices. But in the end, parenting is a guessing game so much of the time. It’s hard to know which choices will be right for your family in the end. Congratulations for thinking it through so clearly while your children are young.

    • Thanks reading, Carolyn. Parenting is indeed a guessing game–we try to do what’s best and only figure out later what did or did not work.

  6. Great post–balance has always been an issue for me, and yet, I’m constantly lecturing my adult children about making sure they maintain balance in their lives. “Work, church, children, friends–everything in moderation. Keep your life balanced.” I seriously need to start following my own advice!

    • Me too! I’m bad about that at work to–I just say I’ll do it, I’ll take on one more project even when I’m drowning. This post was my little reminder to myself. Thanks!

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