Afternoons of Nothing

By Hildie Westenhaver

I have just done my most radical act of parenting so far in my fifteen-year career of raising six children: I have pulled my children out of all extra-curricular activities.

Even piano lessons.

Last year I spent just about every afternoon driving little people to various lessons, games, practices and rehearsals. There were the accompanying happy experiences: pride and excitement as my daughter performed onstage for the first time; my sons becoming more flexible and strong through Kung Fu; the sense of accomplishment my oldest two kids felt after finishing well in a golf tournament.

But there was the ugliness of all the extra-curriculars too: the fact that I spent very little after-school time helping kids with homework and just being there; the nagging and quarrelling about practicing, the lack of decent dinners (I always meant to do something in the crock pot, but it just never seemed to happen).

This year instead of becoming more accomplished we are going back to the basics: we will be working on eating good meals together and getting to sleep early. That’s our after-school curriculum now.

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