I hear a lot of talk about creating margin in your life, having space in your days so that you don’t feel stretched to the max. We are a culture that thrives on busy. Our days, evenings and weekends fill up with activities in a never-ending sequence of go, go, go.

We all know that children need extracurricular activities in order to grow into thriving adults. If you don’t have your kids in at least 3 things each week, you are failing them, and they will grow up to be delinquents. Oh, and you have to start when they’re 3. Kindersoccer. Kindermusic. Kinderdance, Kinderart. What else can we add the word Kinder to so we can make money?

Let’s work out an unscientific equation to determine the insanity factor of too many activities, shall we?

Multiply the number of activities your kids are in by the number of children you have. This will give you your weekly number of activities. You’re already looking for trouble if your number is higher than the number of days in a week. Now consider the monthly cost for each activity and divide by four to find your weekly cost. Multiply by your number of weekly activities. Finally, if you’re an extrovert, multiply by 1. If you’re an introvert, multiply by 100.

Run the numbers, and you’ll soon find that keeping up with whatever culture tells you your kids should be doing will quickly leave you bankrupt and ready to kill someone.

Allow me to simplify things for you. Get off the treadmill of others’ expectations. Consider your financial situation, consider who you are, consider who your kids are, consider your family and how you function, and make choices based on those things.

What does this mean for us? It means we make music lessons a priority. It means we tossed the idea of soccer this spring because the insanity factor of 4 different team schedules was more than we could bear. We opted for swimming lessons instead (an hour of our time, once a week). It means we have time to eat supper together. It means we’ll get more serious about sports when our kids do, and we’re not pushing the issue when they are happy enough to get exercise riding their bikes to the playground. It means we’re fighting for margin in a world that prizes a lack of it.

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