Suburbia or Disturbia?

Lately it seems Matt and I have been having lots of conversations about suburban life. That’s where the idea for NOvember came from…our frustration with the direction our family was going. We definitely have conversations about what we want for our family, our life, our happiness. And September and October? They threatened to derail that goal completely. Trust me, we heaved a huge sigh of relief when this past weekend was over.

Matt seems to think it’s our particular area. That everyone here is “Go hard or go home”. Meaning if you don’t do travel soccer or travel baseball or two sports at a time, plus get good grades in school and help out in your community and do everything that’s asked of you 100% of the time, you’re not good enough. Third grade soccer is super competitive…heck a Mom was beside herself yesterday at the pre-school game. Why does it have to be that way? At 8 years old? What happened to just having fun and getting exercise?

The pressure is intense.

I know I feel it. I happen to enjoy volunteering at my kids’ school, but the pressure is still there. Don’t miss a PTA meeting. Don’t miss that assembly. Make sure you make cookies for the teacher luncheon. Make sure you march in the parade this weekend. Read to your kids 30 minutes every day. Make sure they read to themselves 30 minutes a day. Don’t let them watch too much TV or play too many video games. Playdates. Sports. Gifted programs.

It’s all too much.

Matt heard someone on the radio talking about how we’re so busy making sure our kids are having all of these “experiences” that there’s no time to impart knowledge on them. There’s no time for Dad to work on the car for 4 hours and show the kids what he’s doing and why. There’s no time for Mom to make a pie and show her kids how to measure and make something. There’s no time for doing puzzles, for coloring, for playing ball in the backyard. It’s too much GO!GO!GO!

What I’m asking is, do you feel this? The pressure? I didn’t feel it as much when my kids weren’t in school…but once school started I felt it. We fight it. We try not to sign up for anything and everything that comes home in the backpack. We try to carve out that crucial family time. But it’s hard. And I sometimes have guilt about saying no. Do you? Is it just where we live, or is it everywhere? Last week on Facebook I mentioned that I thought life on Little House on the Prairie sounded heavenly. Do you ever feel that way? Let’s move to a cabin in the woods and live off the land? What do you do to combat Disturbia?

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22 responses to “Suburbia or Disturbia?

  1. I have felt this for years! My oldest is 13. There is pressure to do everything and do it all well. I am shocked at the number of kids doing travel sports at ages 6 and 7. How do you even know what sport you enjoy enough to commit to that much time and expense? I know some parents who are concerned that their children are not doing competitive sports yet. I am fighting the system as much as I can. I try to have my kids do one sport/activity a season. I want them active and healthy and to try new things, but I also want time for them to play outside with the neighborhood gang. This weekend they all pretended they were vampires. They had the fangs and cups of “blood”. It was hysterical. I loved their creativity. I have accepted the fact that my children may not be sports all-stars, or get scholarships to fancy colleges. They will however know how to be carefree, creative and hopefully relaxed. The stress parents put on kids these days is enormous. I applaud you & Matt for your efforts to keep life a little simpler for you family! Good luck and let me know if it gets any easier!

  2. You forgot to mention parents that work full time in addition to all that other mass chaos!!!
    I agree with the starting school thing. It seems like there’s always something to do. I don’t know how we’ll fit in “real” homework time when that time comes. We work hard over here to find that balance. To just kick a ball around in the back yard or jump on the trampoline together. I think I try a little harder because my job requires that there are several nights a week that I may not see my kids before they go to bed. So, when I do see them we’re doing our best to make the best of it, make it fun.
    I hope NOvember brings you some balance (whatever that looks like!). It’s hard to take that step back but sometimes it’s the best thing you can do.

  3. Yep, I agree with Matt. I think where we live has a big impact on it… way too much pressure to do everything and not enough family time. I feel my schedule has changed a lot this fall- preschool on Monday and Fridays, on Tuesdays I work in a church child care room in the morning, every other Wednesday is MOPS, Thursdays are ballet classes, and Fridays both girls have gymnastics. It’s starting to get old really fast- I can’t imagine what it will be like when the girls start school. Luckily, since the activities are during the week day mornings we are cutting out family time yet- just my time to be sane 😉 I think your NOvember idea is awesome! AND you inspired me to say “no” to a few things next month too that I don’t HAVE to do to be a great parent 🙂

  4. We live in one of those areas, too. Example: our neighbors, who have two kids similar in age to the girls, have their kids in Suzuki violin, swimming, Spanish and soccer. I mean, really? And then there’s homework and family time and playdate stuff, and…

    You know what I mean. It’s overwhelming. We have a hard and fast rule that each kid can be in one activity at a time. That’s it. And everyone thinks we’re freaks.

  5. I can tell you that a majority of the kids I see feel overscheduled. And the majority of parents I see feel the same pressure and pull between making sure they’re having “experiences” and letting them just be kids and have family time.

  6. Not having school-age kids yet I cannot share in any personal experience of this area. But I have heard that the school system that you live in is intense. I also know it to be truth that you do not have to travel far and find others are just like it. I feel for ya and am soaking up your words with the anticipation that someday I will be “there” too when our kids are in school.

  7. We were both commenting on each other’s blogs this morning at the same time. :). Ha, that’s so cool.

  8. And that is why I homeschooled for those three years. I wanted my family life back. I’ll never regret it!!!!

  9. I recently heard that our kids are “experience rich but relationship poor.” I found this really interesting. I have another friend struggling with the same thing. She said one of the problems is that her son is having establish new friendships each time she enrolls him in another “experience.” I guess it goes back to the old lesson we had to learn while growing up….you don’t always have to go with the flow and it is okay to be different. Feel encouraged to take back your family time.

  10. The little ones learn it, the older ones live it.

    What I mean by that is where we live (also suburbia) our little kids are taught competition and to win and then when they are in middle and high school, they apply what they’ve learned.

    It’s never ending. And it’s exhausting.

  11. We’re not at that stage yet, but I am a firm believer in down time.

  12. I’m not there yet, but I have been trying to slow things waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down with therapies! From the minute the little guy was born, we were going here and there and I one day thought, “When did we lose control over our lives?” So, I have put limits on the number of therapies/medical appointments we go to per week (every so often we do get off track, though) so that we can just stay home and be. I am planning to continue with that once we hit school age. I’m going to say it, and some make not like this, but we as a society have our priorities screwed up! It doesn’t matter where we live, the truth is we are constantly going with the flow without questioning why we feel overwhelmed. Being stressed out and not having time for a family meal is NOT GOOD! It’s time we wake up and smell the coffee… and it’s time we stop looking at the Jones’ but be brave enough to go against the grain if that is what feels right to us. AND, people need to stop sticking their noses up at families who decide to homeschool or keep their kids out of competitive sport activities for there is lots to learn from those families.

  13. It can sometimes be too much. When things get out of control I plan a weekend of staying home in our PJs and just staying in the house. It’s so refreshing and leaves time for any and everything.

  14. P.S. Good for you for listening to your heart and saying NO.

  15. I hear ya! I love, LOVE simple afternoons at home with the girls. The days when they don’t have soccer practice or music lessons. The days when they get to go in the backyard and swing to their hearts content.

    Donald and I have been telling the girls for the past few weeks that they can’t do everything. That they need to start choosing which things like like to do the most and then say goodbye to the other things that fill their schedule. But they insist that they want to do it all. Funny girls. But regardless of what they want, starting next year they need to make some choices. Because I, like you, don’t like the Go GO Go lifestyle.

    Great post.

  16. Um….why did I type the word ‘like’ two time???? lol….one of these days I will learn to proof read first!

  17. Another great post! Our family is feeling it from all ways too! Between work, school, sports, dance and invite activities it is all becoming tough! I love the NOvember idea and I have been trying to implement it already, I have to cut back some where to keep my sanity! Thanks for reminding me that I am “normal” and experiecing the same frustrations as others!!

  18. Well my friend, my son, your son’s friend couldn’t have been any clearer tonight…he says ‘mom, I like being in boy scouts and flag football but that doesn’t leave me any time to play with friends.” And of course he is right, I love to look down the street watching to boys play ‘catch the flag’, tag, or some creative adventure game they have devised.

    Because even though we live in Suburbia, I think our boys have found ways to still do creative adventures…now mom has to make sure she doesn’t overplan or overschedule him 😉

  19. YES. We’re just now being introduced to this crazy lifestyle. From a distance, I mean. I work hard to keep separated from it. We let our daughter chose one activity at a time. I hope to keep it that way, but a lot of the parents around us involve their children in so much I wonder how they have time to be a family. I mean, the school day here goes until almost 4pm! Add on practices and homework and games and social gatherings and there’s barely time to sleep. AND THEY’RE ONLY IN KINDERGARTEN! (Sorry, clearly this is a hot topic for me. Thank you for sharing your take on it. It makes me feel less alone in how I feel, because I certainly feel like a loner on it sometimes!)

  20. This is going on in my area, too, and I think really most places where there are a lot of kids. We only allow one activity at a time, but with four kids that often ends up being a lot to handle! In fact, my boys had to opt out of baseball this fall, because it was just too much running around for us. I’m all about time at home.

    We get many different reactions; some say “must be nice” like they are being forced to over-schedule their children for 5 activities each, and we are just lazy lie-abouts. Some think we’re doing our kids a disservice — “they won’t make the team in high school if they don’t do travel.” But, others have also come around. Family time, and just learning to play on your own is invaluable. Kudos to you on your NOvember!

  21. Oh, Tiffany. It’s like you’ve read my mind! Disturbia. Love the term. Hate living the experience. Life is the same here. My husband and I are doing what we can to combat it, with little luck. The 3rd grade boys sports schedule and intensity. Dear God. Really?!?! Never could I have imagined it like this. Now, how do we get out?? Let me know if you have any ideas…

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