Overcommitting Is Contagious: Know The Signs And Symptoms
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Every mother, and probably father too, knows how it goes. We see the Facebook highlight reel of the weekend events that Betty Lou went on with her kids. And we notice that Nancy responded that she was going to this festival with her children. After that you endure the photos of the happy family enjoying said events. Rinse and repeat.
And we feel like we dropped the ball. We feel like we are doing our kids a huge disservice by not making the same memories that Betty Lou and Nancy did.
Why didn’t I take my kids too? What was I thinking?
We feel less than and like crappy parents. And that we need to step up our game.
So we pack our calendars full. We get in the car and we do lots of fun activities every chance we get. There’s pictures to prove all the excitement happened and souvenirs that make their way home to confirm that the event occurred.
And then we keep going. We keep making those plans because we don’t want to feel like the boring mom. We want our kids to think that we are fun and that we care about their happiness. So we overextend ourselves to show them this.
We sign them up for multiple sports. Then we enroll them in swim lessons. When the opportunity arises to participate in gymnastics and karate, we take advantage of it.
On Saturday’s we wake up early to take them to story time. If you don’t take your kids to story time are you even a parent???
We don’t want to deprive them. We keep overcommitting.
But what about us? Where does our happiness come into play?
Yes, we are all going to immediately say that seeing our kids happy makes us happy. Obviously it does. It would be weird if it didn’t.
You don’t ever hear people say: “it really pisses me off to see my kids happy!”
But what about our own lives? Our kids aren’t the only ones with one. We are also given a life that we need to take advantage of.
Why aren’t we as concerned with our happiness as we are with our kids?
How many times have we kept our commitment to an event for our children but passed on one that we wanted to participate in for ourselves? Even if the desired event for ourselves was to just veg at home?
Far too often right? You definitely have given up your lounging and relaxing plans to take your kids somewhere, haven’t you?
I realized this past week that I was doing it again. I was overcommitting and putting myself on the back burner. When we first had children, my husband and I agreed – one extracurricular activity per child at a time. We have always abided by that. We value our down time and have no desire to be on the go every single evening and weekend.
But that doesn’t mean that we say no to other things.
That’s where the overcommitment comes in.
The past few weeks have been insane. Prepping for upcoming craft shows, Girl Scout cookie delivery, school events, inspections, blogging, sickness, family events.
I felt myself getting stressed out. I was getting short and angry more frequently. Fatigue was more prevalent than it had been. Sickness came into our lives when it had been away for so long. Every time I just wanted to collapse and sleep I couldn’t because I had so many more obligations to carry out.
One would think that because of this I would chill on making plans right? That I would understand the importance of taking time to relax and be in the moment instead of always on the run?
No. I did not do that.
Because overcommitting is contagious.
Nobody wants to be the mom who doesn’t take her kids out to do things that they enjoy. You don’t want to be known as the couch potato mom that would rather sit at home than explore and go on adventures.
But you know what?
We need to be that. Not just for us, but for our kids. Sometimes we just need to be boring.
What I have noticed is that the more we go out and do things, the more my daughter expects it. And when she expects it and doesn’t get it, she has a huge attitude.
I have unknowingly created an entitled child by indulging my desire to be a fun, cool, not boring mom.
Because of providing constant entertainment, I have a child that can’t figure out how to entertain herself.
When I overcommit my family, I get to appear to the world like I am adventurous and up for anything, but my family actually suffers from it.
I have started to pay more attention to my children’s behavior and attitude when we have busy schedules and when we don’t.
When we do my daughter continually asks: “Can we do fun things today?” and assumes that we have ample opportunities to do them. “Today I want to go to this restaurant and tomorrow we can go to that one.”
When we limit our activities to a select few per month, she will find ways to entertain herself at home with her toys. Her pretend play skyrockets and she doesn’t bug us about doing things outside the house.
Not only that, but she is content with less. When we are always on the go and doing many different things, nothing is special. When we slow down and choose just a few things to do, going to the park is exciting again. She no longer requires bigger and better things to be entertained.
Nothing in me wants to restrict my children. But I also don’t want children that can’t enjoy the little things in life. I know long term that will actually be damaging to them and their development. I recently read an article that said children who grow up eating at a certain level of restaurant routinely (think high-end sit down instead of fast food) go on to have money problems later on because they try to keep up with the lifestyle they are familiar with. If I am on the go constantly with my children, how do I expect that they will financially be able to do that as they grow and become independent? Not only that, but it will be difficult for them to forego those things because they are unable to make do with less.
So not only will they not be able to entertain themselves on a smaller level, but they won’t be able to afford to entertain themselves at the level they are accustomed to, which could very realistically lead to issues with debt at a young age.
By maximizing quality over quantity, we are all getting the best of both worlds. Children mimic what they see and experience. We need to set the example and push the concept of memories over materials to set them up for success.