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June 7, 2013

Don't Forget the Fun

by Tracy Jensen

One of my friends is pretty committed to keeping her kids really involved in physical activity. She signs her two boys up for soccer, swim lessons, basketball, gymnastics, whatever is in season, and it usually amounts to at least 3 days a week of organized sports.

But her boys complain wildly about it. I mean, especially the older one, just launches into dramatic orations about how they never have time to do what they want. To these typical modern boys, that means an all-day video game marathon, which isn’t happening. So she has mostly learned to ignore their complaints about going to practices.

This summer it’s swim team. She loads the towels, flippers, goggles, snacks, sunscreen, and her two grumpy boys into the car and gets there just in time for practice. Then it’s back home to get dinner, baths, bedtime, etc. During one of her recent hostage-negotiation-like pleas to get them out the door, she stopped and asked her youngest why they complain so much about going to the pool. It seems like the perfect place for a kid to have fun, right?

He answers by saying, “If we were going to swim and play, it would be fun, but we NEVER go for fun.” Which is true. It is such a hassle to get them to the pool for practices and meets that she doesn’t even consider going for the fun of it.

I guess I have two points here. The first is that it’s worth sifting though your kid’s complaining from time to time to see if there is a real point. And second, don’t forget to leave room for fun. Do you think your kids have a good balance of organized activities and free play?

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