My 2023 Parenting Resolution: Do LESS

Do you know what days on my planner get me the most excited?  The ones with nothing scheduled.  I love a blank slate, a flexible timeline, and an open day.  It doesn’t mean nothing will happen, but it means nothing has to happen.  And that makes all the difference for me.  It’s energizing and calming all at once.  

I think the same is true for our kids.  They beg to sign up for every single musical and class and team and birthday party, but they need breaks too.  Even from the fun stuff.  Even from the educational “good for them” stuff.  Blank space invites rest, and when we are rested, we thrive.  Science proves this to us at every turn.  Farmers give fields seasons off to rest and regenerate in order to get the best crops.  Athletes take days off from workouts so that their bodies can reach peak performance and avoid injuries.  Teachers build brain breaks into the school day so that students retain information and increase focus.  We are literally wired for rest.  So then why do we feel so torn and even guilty about downsizing our schedules and those of our children’s?  Because we don’t want our kids to miss out. 

As a mother of three girls who want to try it all, I get it.  And as a mother of a child with special needs who qualifies for a multitude of therapies and interventions, I really get it.  My middle daughter, Eliza, has Prader-Willi syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that causes global delays and trouble with regulation in every way.  She is eight now, but she has had weekly physical, occupational, and speech therapies since she was just three months old.  Talk about a full schedule!  They are all good and important and beneficial, and I feel so grateful we have them.  But do you know what I’m realizing?  She has some of her best gains and does some of her best self-regulating when we’re at my dad’s house in Colorado…a place where she has no school, no therapies, and no doctors appointments.  I used to worry that if I didn’t push her, she would lose hard-fought ground, but I’m finding the opposite is often true.  The pressure is gone, and something inside her unlocks. She asks to go on hikes, she makes up songs, and she engages in conversation and pretend play without prompting.  It’s sort of incredible, really.  

I realize we can’t live in a constant state of vacation, and I don’t want to deny my girls the chance to sign up for what excites them, but it all comes back to balance.  Of course I want Eliza to continue growing with the help of her therapy team.  And I want all my girls to explore a myriad of activities in hopes that they find one (or more) that lights them up from the inside out.  But I’ve stopped thinking it has to happen right now and all at once.  I’ve let go of the idea that they can miss what’s meant for them if I don’t get them in just the right class at just the right time.  Because if that’s the case, I will spend my days consumed with panic and stress and mom guilt instead of enjoying the ride, holding space for rest with intention and staying open to the gifts that come in and from it.  

Doing less is a resolution of mine not because I need a break (even though I think we all do), and not because I don’t believe I can juggle it all (I’m sure I can’t).  It is a resolution because I want to live a life bursting with possibility, fueled by rest.  For me, that looks like zero afterschool obligations at least two nights a week, but it’s different for everyone.  It can start with a blank page in your planner or just a blank morning, but you might be surprised to find that everyone (your kids included) will feel a little lighter those days.  You just might find there’s room for more when we do less.  


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