Maybe it’s because I lived in a neighborhood with lots of kids. There had to be 20 of us who were within a few years of each other. My best friend lived across the street. I could yell out my window, and she’d hear me. Then we’d play outside. That was scheduling. “Can you come out?” “Yes, be right there.” Our parents just assumed we were out there somewhere. Not exactly the model I’m going for, safety-wise, but you know what I mean.
When I was a kid, I played outside. I went out my front door and found someone to play with. Was no one home? I didn’t like who was around? Then, tough for me. I had to amuse myself. I don’t ever recall my mother stressing over us not having fun plans for me with my friends. Even in the days before I was able to play outside alone, I played with my cousins and my toys.
Those were my friends. Mom took me to visit her sister, and we played. I went to preschool, but there were never any dates set up with those moms. Why? I don’t know about you, but we didn’t do playdates. We just played and had fun where we could find it. Is that weird? Summer vacation meant playing with neighborhood friends. I saw my school friends in September, with rare exceptions.
Now…it’s not the same. Granted, my girls are young and don’t go out alone. Playing with other kids means planning. I wish it said, “What are you doing? Can you come over now?” but it doesn’t. It means “How does next month look for you?” or “Sorry, we only have a couple of hours on Tuesday mornings. Can you do 9:15 – 10:00 on the 18th. Of September. October is pretty free for us right now, too, but filling up fast.” I was shocked when I first realized how things work these days. I have a friend who I adore. We both have similarly aged girls in preschool and can usually only get together during vacations.
I’m cool with that. I emailed her in March, thinking I was so on-the-ball, to see if we could pick a day to get together during April vacation. In 6 weeks. She was busy. Her April vacation was booked with playdates and activities by mid-March. Sure, the question lingered that she just may not have wanted to hang with us, but still. To use this excuse means people do schedule their toddlers and pre-schoolers this far out. Baffling!
Am I the only mom who is under schedule? It’s not even that I think other moms overschedule. Of course, some do, but most plan a fair amount of activities to keep them and their children happy and busy. Our day usually consists of playing at home and running errands and seeing my friends a few times a week. Adequate. I would go nuts if I had something scheduled every day of the week, but I go nuts when I have nothing planned.
The one conclusion I have come to concerning kids’ scheduling is that it’s for mom. Mom wants a schedule and wants to get out of the house. It would be best if you often had plans for that. I have never seen a young child sit at home, sad because he isn’t taking soccer or art or music. They deal and then do something else. Show me a mom who has stayed home all day, and I’ll show you a crazy lady who feels the walls are about to swallow her up. Me? I admit I’m happier when I’m busy – as long as I’m prepared to be active. Give me a packed bag and snacks, and I love being out all day. I won’t kid myself into thinking that every fun activity I do with my kids is for them. When I bring them to a playground and sit and enjoy my coffee. I guarantee I’m having more fun than they are. At my friend’s house in her safe, significant, have I amply stocked toy room? No doubt it’s me not wanting to go home.
I generally stay clear of saying, “My mom did that with me, and I turned out fine,” but this is one area that I prefer the way our parents did things…It was easier. It was simpler. It was more relaxing. Not to mention the fact that I would be able to see my friends and their kids at some point in this calendar year.