April 2, 2010

being together

When did the folks at Ikea get so insightful about family life, I wonder?
I've been a longtime fan of the Ikea catalog, finding inspiration & ideas from it's pages for us to create our own versions of in our home. Mitch just loves Ikea, too, for all the ideas they spark in my mind for him to build. ;)
Anway, we have some home improvement projects brewing, so I've been flipping through my most recent (2007) Ikea catalog for kitchen organization ideas.
And I found this:

Who invented the 'activity'? Yoga classes, summer camps, Spanish courses, Spanish horses, diving courses - what's the big idea? It's dividing your family; making you have separate meals, separate agendas, searate lives. What's wrong with: gathering around a table, preparing a meal together, eating together, talking together, arguing, playing, joking, discussing and laughing together. Who needs activities when there's life?

I couldn't agree more. I tend to lean toward the anti-scheduling-my-kids-lives-more-than-mandatory side of things. I think I even talked about it a while back, here.

For us it's not so much about reclaiming, but maintaining being together.
It gets a little trickier the more all the kids get older.
Mason & Eric played basketball throughout the month of February. We had fun attending their games together, but I can see where that'll be more of a challenge down the line.
We look forward to football season in the fall, but I'm aware it's really going to change with them entering jr. high & practicing every day.
It's balance we look for, between having kids who love sports, and us who love time together with our kids.

It's been a busy week (or so.) We've been heading to the dentist two by two for spring cleanings. Tuesday night the three younger kids & I went to see Seussical, making for a late school night. (Opportunity to see live performing arts locally is one cause for exception to my anti-activity ways.) The kids have been tired from long school days and late, busy evenings.

After dinner last night, it was still extremely beautiful outside, we had no school in the morning, and so the kids all retreated back outdoors until dark.
Rather than my usual routine of putting together four cold lunches for the next day, I stepped out on the front porch to see this wonderful scene:
Five kids & the dog in the front yard, in a variety of full speed action, but somehow perfect synchronized harmony at the same time.
Johnathan & Lilly riding their bikes round in circles on the garage apron. Lilly shouted, "Hey, Mom! I can go TWO hundred miles an hour!" Beau weaving in & out of them going the opposite direction on his trike. McGee prancing with head held high, proud & happy in the company of all his kids. And Mason & Eric throwing the football back & forth, arching over all the rest of the action, framing it in. Just like simultenious circus acts.

It was almost dark out, so I didn't get a picture. But it's captured in my memory, this wonderful image of togetherness.

Who needs activities when there's life? I like those words.


  1. Ahh Yes activities! We haven't embarked on any school activities yet this year.. we may look at one for next year but it is always hard for me to want to sign them up for anything because school in and of itself takes up so much stinking time!

    Good luck finding your balance with your activities. I agree I do very much prefer to just stay home in the evenings and do as we please, but some things are definitely beneficial for the kids.

  2. You're right, Katie! We like to learn, and you can learn good things from some activities that you may not be able to learn at home. Just like I think kids learn a lot at home that they may not be able to learn from a scheduled activity. (sadly, not all kids have healthy home learning environments, though..)
    Music is one thing particularly for us, that we can't teach our kids a lot about, and I think is good, and so if one (or more) of them should become interested, I'd be very for them taking the time to learn.
    We'll just enjoy the together days as much as we can when we can & try not to over do the scheduled planning - like you said, having our kids at scool 8 hrs. a day Mon-Fri. is already a LOT of time away! :)

  3. I agree. Whats hard is those activities can be at the worst hbours for family life. Like littel leauge games for the past 3 years we did were always at 5pm-8pmish time span. When do we eat? when do they bathe? when do they do homework...? We did it but I think those things are for smaller families. It was so hard bringing babies and toddlers to games in the evenings and keeping up little kids way pas their bedtimes.

    we haven't done anything like that this year and I feel slightly glad and slightly guilty at once.