We had a conversation with my son this evening about him finding an extracurricular activity. He’s a sophomore in high school this year, and currently between “things.” As in, he doesn’t have a “something” to do right now. And he needs one. Even if he doesn’t think he does.
His routine is pretty much go to school, come home and do homework, then spend the rest of the night playing video games. Not exactly thrilling and productive.
I get it, kids need down time. I’m all for that. But they also need activity to keep their brains, social skills, and bodies healthy. So tonight I gave him the assignment to consider what his next “something” is. Does he want to get back into taking music lessons? Does he want to get more serious about getting a band together with his friends? Does he want to join the gym? Do photography? Play hopscotch? I really don’t care what it is, as long as it is something.
He will figure it out, and the next “thing” will become cool. So I have to temper my harping. Besides, soon he will have his license, then an after-school job, and his schedule will get really busy. Finding time for fun stuff will be even more challenging.
I was thinking today about my high school years, and the extra things I did. My son says his school’s clubs aren’t cool. Neither are the music groups. That’s too bad. I was a band nerd in high school. I had a fairly tight-knit group of friends who were also band nerds, and we were all in at least 2 or 3 groups. Every year I also played in the pit band for the high school musical. Then there were occasional other groups like yearbook committee or prom planning. Outside of school I had 4-H, right up through my teen years. Yup, I had plenty of “somethings” to keep me busy.
And what about now? What are our extracurriculars now? What are our “somethings”? How many of you just snorted “yeah, right, who has time?” We R.W.’s are all so busy running around working and taking care of people that sometimes we forget about the importance that hobbies and interests still have in our lives. We need them too to keep our brains, social skills and bodies healthy. And no, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, paying the bills, beating deadlines at work, taking the kids to school and going grocery shopping does NOT count. Even for those of you wacky folks who enjoy those activities – they don’t count.
Amazingly, most real women do manage to carve out time for some sort of “thing” in their life. Lucille Ball once said “If you want something to get done, give it to a busy person. The more things you do, the more you can do.” And that really is true. Somehow the women in my life hold down jobs, family management, household maintenance, and more, yet also fit in things like hiking, card-making, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking, biking, painting, kayaking, social groups, book clubs, volunteer work, travel, theater – you name it. They all have some sort of “thing”, and that thing is really, really important to them. I think in many ways, that “something” is what helps us all preserve our sanity. I know that when I have time for a bike ride, or some scrapbooking, or writing, I feel better and more centered. Less cranky and stressed. Huh. Go figure.
There is another adage, this one provided by John Wooden, that points out “The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example.” So we owe it to our children to show them how important it is to find healthy and creative “things” in our life, and make sure we do them.
So I think the next time I decide to skip doing the laundry, or cleaning the bathroom in favor of writing a chapter in my book or going for a walk, I’ll pop my head in to my son’s room, tell him what I’m doing, and add “and I’m doing this for your own good.” I know his initial response will be “wait, whut?”
Then some day, when he’s deeply involved in something cool and fun, he’ll get it.