Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | June 5, 2009

things I learned on my day off

Fridays are my days to try and get stuff done around the house and to try and take a little time for myself. So this morning I worked in the yard, packed up more of the house, got the house ready for a showing, dropped some stuff off at the storage unit and went for a manicure and pedicure.

While I was getting my nails done, I listened to a little girl talking about all of her activities. She seemed like a very happy little girl, but I listened to her and feared for the future of my own daughter. This little girl must have been about 8 and she does gymnastics for 3 1/2 hours a day (during the summer), is on swim team and dive team, and she plays tennis and golf. Oh, and this little girl was also performing in theater in the park.Where did silly summer camp go?

When I was a kid we went to summer camp every day. I still have fond memories of it. It was a Jewish day camp at one of the local parks where we had great art activities, we played sports, sang songs and generally had fun. We went swimming, but it was a far cry from swim team.  And we took trips to the beach and museums and anywhere else they could figure out. We were kids. Why aren’t kids allowed to just be kids anymore?

The weird thing about listening to this little girl, is that earlier this morning, I had been reading an opinion piece in the NY Times and the writer had written the book Perfect Madness.  It’s about all of the insanity that I think modern mothers are going through. It leads me to think of both sides of the coin – what is this doing to modern mothers and what is it doing to modern kids?

Judith Warner’s missive on the “Mommy Mystique” can be read in a weekend, if readers have the time. Of course–according to the book–many would-be readers will have to carve out the hours in between an endless sea of child-enriching activities, a soul-sucking swirl that leads many mothers into a well of despair. Warner’s book seeks to answer the question, “Why are today’s young mothers so stressed out?” Whether shuttling kids to “enriching” after-school activities or worrying about the quality of available child care, the women of Perfect Madness describe a life far out of balance. Warner spends most of the book explaining how things got to this point, and what can be done to restore some sanity to the parenting process.

Being a parent is an odd balancing act, but I think in this day and age the kids almost expect their lives to be non-stop scheduled activities. I often feel like I don’t schedule the munchkin’s day enough when it’s just the two of us, something I’ll have a lot more time to do in the near future. But on the flip side, I think she’s getting to create her own experiences. Do kids get to do that anymore? Do they run around and make up games? I know she gets to do that at daycare, but Dianne runs a special place.  Again, if you haven’t checked it out, look at FreeRangeKids and here’s to hoping that I can raise the munchkin to be a free thinker, a creative thinker and to not feel the pressure from all around. Heck, here’s the hoping that I can manage to avoid the pressure.

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