My kids fight me every.single.time we need to transition from our comfortable home life to the frenzied routine of preparing for and heading out the door for swim team. “We hate swim team,” they repeat, three of the four of them, one after another. I rationalize that we’re participating in swim team to stay in shape– in fact, I remind them, I ONLY make them go to two practices when most parents require their swimmers to attend all five each week. To add to my level of extreme generosity, I only make them participate in the minimum number of meets required to qualify for Championships. I’m nicer than most parents, I remind them. And so we did this for many years and endured several meltdowns… until what I heard one day through their pleas that what they really want is more family time and less on-the-run time.
And so we settled on this understanding– if we aren’t going to swim, we’re going to have more family time, but we’re also going to pitch in around the house a little more than we have in the past…
And so the new routines have started (though swim team hasn’t completely ended yet)… I’ve let go of some of my responsibilities and have allowed the kids to take on a bigger part of our family time. They prepare their own lunches, do more chores around the house, and spend time in the evenings preparing the vegetables, fruit, and table for dinner. In the end, their contributions free me up for their much-desired family time.
I’ve been letting them dream alongside me– what will our next adventure be? What needs to be done in advance? What goals can we set as a family? How can we achieve those goals? What can each of us contribute? And then I let go of the wheel, and I let them take over. They’re capable and where they might have once lacked confidence, they grow exponentially.
Coincidentally, I’ve found some freedom in our new routines. I have new teammates in this family of mine– we set goals and we accomplish them together. I’m no longer on an island, and I’m able to offer support to my kids outside of the household expectations I place on myself. I like this freedom, and they seem to, too!