This week we’ve really enjoyed having a bit of a break from all the after-school clubs the kids have been taking part in.
And by some weird coincidence, a report has stated parents are being too intrusive, filling their children’s lives with an overload of organised activities, and not enough free play.
Well, it started when Blake was sick – meaning Brodie eventually got his germs.
And Mr G was on business in London, so we were confined to barracks for a number of days.
We missed the 5 after-school clubs Brodie usually does, and the 2 his little brother takes part in.
Their reaction was not as I expected.
“Yeeeeeeessssss!” they said, punching the air, as I announced we wouldn’t be going to anything – not even swimming – until their snotty noses and hacking coughs subsided.
For me, it hit home what I had suspected for a while. That we were doing too much.
I’m not one of those controlling Tiger mums (honest!) It’s just that when Brodie started school there were a number of leaflets being sent home, and school newsletters, filled with opportunities I didn’t want him to miss.
But lately, I’ve been getting reports he was larking about, being disruptive, or reluctant to join in with the musical activities.
Finally, the mum teaching him collared me at the school gates, and suggested gently that he was perhaps not ready to give music his full concentration.
In short, he shouldn’t come back to class.
He’s only 6. Brodie is a good kid and had started to display a good musical ear in the first term.
But by the second, he seemed to have so much pent-up energy when the school bell went at the end of the day, he didn’t want to be made to sit down and learn any longer.
Maybe we’ll return to music when he’s older. Maybe we won’t. That has to be up to him.
In an interview with The Times this week, Conservative MP Claire Perry blamed mums for pushing their own ambition onto their kids and creating a ‘treadmill’ of over-organised activities.
She said many kids will leave home or go to university and find they’re unable to cope without their mum watching their every move.
I’m usually the first to brush off these stupid reports, which blame parents for bloody everything.
We’re giving too much love. We’re not giving enough. We’re cushioning them. We’re exposing them to too much sex and violence (in video games, that is). We’re holding them back. We’re pushing them too far.
But this time, I had to listen to my kids.
The boys were happy and relieved to have a week of hanging around the house, painting pictures, having battles with toy soldiers.
OK, I haven’t ruined their lives by taking them to swimming lessons, and Enjoy a Ball (a general sports class), by encouraging Brodie to do rugby and music and Beaver cubs too.
But they have been tired.
We’re out all the time – sometimes with just half an hour to squeeze in homework between leaving school and going to one of Brodie’s clubs.
And I had ambition for Blake to try everything, once he starts school in August.
Now I’ve changed my mind.
We’re dropping 2 of Brodie’s after-school clubs (well, as I explained, he’s been chucked out of one of them).
I’m insisting he continues with swimming (it’s a lifesaving skill, after all) and he’s chosen his 2 favourite activities to do alongside that.
If he wants to do anything else in the future, he’ll have to drop one of his existing clubs.
That gives us 3 evenings a week after school when he’s got nothing to do.
Nothing but play in the street with his friends, or in the garden with his brother. To draw pictures, watch cartoons, pick his nose – whatever takes his fancy.
And the same rule will apply to Blake.
They need free time. We all need it.
But if anyone asks, I will deny vehemently that I agree with anything a Tory MP has to say. Ssssshhhhh!
That’s my decision, but what do you think?
Can a child do too many organised clubs and activities?
Is there an age when it’s acceptable to
push encourage them?