Become the After-School Activity Rebel

Become the After-School Activity Rebel

#Thrive Thursday: Yes, this is a day late, but that’s what adrenal fatigue can do to you. When you face physical health challenges, you need to be wise with what you can and can’t do and with this particular challenge, you can go for days feeling relatively fine until you push the limits and discover your boundaries haven’t moved as far as you’d like. This happened on Wednesday. This can also happen in sports, moonlighting two or more jobs to make ends meet, and other scenarios around the house and home of the single parent family. Early stages of adrenal fatigue are typically lumped together as “burn out” and under most circumstances, a mere case of “burn out” is typically overcome by a period of rest and then one can carry on again. However, as a single mom, you would be wise not to court “burn out” at all. But how do you do that when you have to work, ensure your kids’ education continues, do housework, do the shopping and errands, take one or more kids to those after-school activities, etc? You’re just one person, right?

The answer is found in, once again, rebelling against societal expectations and NOT doing everything society expects of you or your kids! It seriously isn’t necessary to have them enrolled in every single after-school program that may or may not interest them in the slightest just because it might improve school opportunities or supposedly maintain healthy social interaction. These excuses are costly in a number of ways:

1) It puts unnecessary stress on your children because they feel they have to keep up with others around them or risk losing out. Better not to even start that road if your kids are young enough. If you began down that road, have a sit-down chat with your kids to find out how they truly, honestly, brutally feel about being part of the laundry list of after-school stuff. Tell them you won’t get upset if they have anything negative to say. You might be surprised that they may not actually enjoy what they are doing, the pressure is too much, they can’t focus on their homework, and the list could go on.

Calendar2) It puts unnecessary stress on your schedule. Until your kids are old enough to get their driver’s license or safely get themselves around on a bicycle, you are their source of transportation! This means you have to get them to and from every event you couldn’t arrange carpooling for and the timing of some of these will interfer with your own timetable at times, making appointments, errands, shopping, and other needful things more challenging to accomplish, particularly if you have a second job to get to. This level of stress can lead to snappy behaviour from you to the kids or vice versa and can really put a strain on family dynamics.

3) Unless your kids are old enough to do a paper route on their own (because you’re their safety if they began too young and you have to go with them), babysit, or hold down a part-time job, you are the one paying for their after-school activity fees, uniforms, instruments, tools, insurance, travel to competitions, tournaments, retreats, seminars, conferences, etc. This can and does put a huge strain on two-parent households let alone single parent! This is where you need to get your kids used to hearing you say “no” to various activities and where you need to be including them in the household financial ongoing assessment sessions so they learn that your “no” is real, honest, genuine, and there are very real boots-on-the-ground reasons for why they can or can’t do things. When your children have a hand in shaping how much bread and milk can be bought that month, they will eventually be the ones telling YOU that they turned down an after-school activity because they knew you wouldn’t be able to afford it.

There is no shame in this unless you choose to feel that way yourself. When you say no to your children because of affordability, time constraints, or because you foresee danger to their mental/emotional/social state, you are training them to grow up as responsible decision-making teenagers and adults. When you look at the kids of families “doing it all”, and see how those kids treat their parents, you will often see entitled, bratty, prideful behaviour that darn near treats their parents as servants and chauffuers rather than respecting and honouring their parents as they should.

child learning pianoDoes your child have a talent or gifting presenting itself as a pre-schooler, or in those early elementary school years? Rather than put your child into every single after-school event out there, pick and choose what you will put your time and money toward. Even then, you may not be able to afford those activities you wish you could put your child in. I faced this when my kids were small.

My son could have been a drummer and a soccer player, but because I had no funds to pay for classes and there were no tournaments on Saturdays (always Sundays, Sundays are for God’s House), he now can’t stand sports and isn’t interested in playing musical instruments. So this saddens me, but affordability and time constraints are real things and trying to buck those realities contributed to the adrenal fatigue problem I now face as my kids are now young adults.

In fact, my adrenal fatigue blew up in my face the year they graduated high school. By that time my kids were the ones saying no to events due to time and money constraints, but I’d tried too hard for too long under a wide variety of house, home, and church commitments and in combination with other contributors, my health failed anyway. My admonition to you may not prevent you from the same fate, but if you look after yourself, you can work toward avoiding this health situation in your own home. Two of my other contributors were steroidal asthma medications and a near nervous-breakdown I apparently never healed from. There are ways to manage and/or heal up from my condition when funds permit and I can share those with you as they do help when I have them in the house. I teach food as medicine under Taming the Cupboard, including what I have learned since my kids graduated that I wish I knew while they were growing up.

fish n chipsOne of the things that tends to go by the wayside when families are too busy, is the food issue. Eating out becomes normal and that in itself is an added expense on the pocketbook. You know you’re too busy when you can’t cook your meals at home every day and every week. It is far cheaper to make your meals at home and take them with you, than to pass through the drive-thru several times a week. Your physical health suffers when you don’t eat right and it can negatively impact growing bodies and brains if you are allowing your children to eat out consistently too.

So be the after-school activity rebel, teach your kids to be that rebel as well, and reap the benefits in their and your health, less stress and more rest in the daily/weekly household schedule, and less stress around the pocketbook. It’s a triple-win or in hockey terms, a hat-trick! You can do this mom, and so can your kids. This week concludes our rebel month and starting October we will be talking all about Taming the Cupboard as we enter various holiday and festive seasons. There are actually positive side-effects to being a societal rebel!

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