Olympic Athlete Summer Sanders Wonders If Her Kids Are "Too Busy"

I love the endless opportunity our kids have, but do you ever wonder if our kids are too busy? Don't get me wrong, I am a Title IX baby and relish every opportunity available to my daughter and my son. When I was little I wanted to play soccer, but there wasn't a girls' team, so I watched my brother. And then I found swimming, thank goodness - I loved it because I am not really sure what else was out there for me to do (other than cheerleading, which I learned in 9th grade was not for me).

My kids, on the other hand, can't seem to fit all their activities into a 24/7 week. I have already written a lot about about "fighting for my kid's free time" in a another blog about keeping it all together as a parent, but I feel like I am losing the fight. And frankly, maybe "fight" is too strong of a word. Maybe I am just their lobbyist or advocate. I feel like I need to picket outside their bedrooms just to remind them how cool an afternoon of make-believe and play can be.

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But I don't. I don't for one reason and one reason only. They are happy with their activities. Maybe it's me, maybe I'm the one who is over sensitive about the opportunity they currently have not to be committed to something, to not have a packed schedule. I would definitely classify myself as a commitment-phobe when it comes to kids sports, yet that is SO VERY ironic because I was that 4-year-old who begged my mom to join swim team. Then at age seven - the same age as my daughter now - I begged her to join the year-round team. So I get the love they have for their sports. I have seen the joy and pride on Skye's face when she finally got her back handspring. And I actually joined Spider recently at "Parents Day" in his karate class, where I enthusiastically yelled my kata and punched like nobody's business. So I get it.

The thing is, I don't want my kids to miss out on their childhood. I remember quitting swimming one time JUST BECAUSE I thought my friends were doing ridiculously amazing things after school. I learned they weren't after about a month and went back. It could also be that I like hanging out with my kids. I like our spontaneous trips to the pool or our bike rides. I love watching their faces light up at the unexpected ice cream trip or family movie while they still like hanging out with their mom.

Right now, between the two of them, they are in four different sports (two each) and ski team starting very soon. So every afternoon, following school all day, we go to gymnastics or karate, swimming, soccer, or tennis. Then there are weekend meets, and team outings, etc. It's 7 p.m. before we make it home most days for dinner. This kind of schedule is usually why I wait until they have asked me about 67 times if they can do a sport before I sign them up. Because once they commit, I make sure they follow through. My big goal is that both parties, the cab company (me) and the athlete (them), remain happy and positive and that each experience is a learning one.

There is really nothing to do now, and at least nothing to worry about yet, I hope. But I would love to know, am I alone in this worry? My kids are 7 and 5. They LOVE everything they do, and somehow think they can fit even more into their schedules. Who knew there should be a "scheduling" section in the curriculum of a second-grader?

-By Summer Sanders

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