Something Has to Give

Photo credit: clowdomega from

It was three months ago that we debated putting the Bear into soccer. We were apprehensive for a few reasons:

1. She is only five.
2. She was already enrolled in swimming lessons.
3. We are trying to avoid lots of organized activities. Swimming lessons, soccer, plus playschool for a five-year-old seems a little much.

But we ignored our instincts and put her in soccer anyway. The other night we learned our lesson.

It was raining. No, the rain had stopped. Did we have soccer or didn’t we? And who schedules a soccer game for 6:00, anyway? MJ didn’t arrive home until 5:30 and dinner was rushed as we all scrambled to get out the door. We all had to leave because I was meeting someone – this meant I needed our one and only car. MJ was going to bike over to the field with the girls in the trailer. But, oh no, the trailer came unhinged in the chaos and jammed itself between the spokes of MJ’s bike tire – bending it beyond repair. The Bear was still crying because she didn’t understand why she couldn’t ride her own bike. And Banana kept insisting that she didn’t need her rain jacket so every five minutes one of us was trying to zip her back into it for the umpteenth time.

You may remember the post where I asked the question, what do you think of when you think of family life?

Well, this moment was my antithesis.

I often wonder how other families manage. On the outside, it seems like other families know tricks that I have yet to learn. But MJ reminded me that they aren’t managing – they’ve given up something. In other words, a family unit simply cannot maintain a fast-paced life with loads of activities, hold on to certain values (like eating dinner as a family), and be still be cheerful to one another. Something has to give – perhaps bedtime routine, or time together as a family, or even putting off toilet training the toddler in order to maintain a certain pace. Either way, families may look like they are managing, this much I know, but it is at the expense of other things. I guess one just needs to be cautious and conscious about what they’re giving up.

At this point in our family life, we are giving up a heavy schedule of activities. We will not overload ourselves again; instead we will favour unrushed dinners as a family and avoiding situations that end with all of us angry at each other. And maybe there will still be time for a bike ride, once that tire gets replaced…


4 Responses to “Something Has to Give”

  1. 1 Rachel June 24, 2011 at 3:35 am

    Why are sports activities scheduled past 5pm? Sure, I’m a child of the 80’s but I’m always surprised to hear about activities scheduled during, or even after, the dinner hour on a weeknight. I write this and I was once a very high level athlete. I understand odd hours for high level sport. But 5 year-old soccer?

    I’m only adamant that our son engage in a few activities. Piano lessons, swimming and karate or gymnastics. We’ll try those when he’s older (only 20 months right now) and if he likes one or all of them we’ll continue with them seasonally.

    Sounds like night one of soccer was a bit of schmozzle. Hope it all smoothes out for you on the next soccer night.



    • 2 Mama Tortoise June 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for commenting.

      I often wonder about the timing too. Or, perhaps why we (and I include myself in the ‘we’) feel compelled to have five-year-olds in a competitive sport at all. At this point, we’re sticking to the one activity per kid rule.


  2. 3 Michelle June 22, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Something always has to give. Two nights each week the kids and I eat an early (more leisurely) dinner, watch Dad wolf dinner down in about 3 minutes when he gets home from work, and head to soccer. It’s a bit rushed but hasn’t felt like a sacrifice. We’re still spending time together, cheering for our favourite player and team. Next year we may have to reconsider, if both kids want to play soccer, since they’ll be playing on alternate nights. We’ll also have to consider that G will be in school full days and may want (or need) more home time. For now, it works for all of us. Now to get dinner started….it’s soccer night 🙂

    • 4 Mama Tortoise June 25, 2011 at 4:57 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      Sounds like you’ve got soccer working for you. I think that is the hard thing – there’s no single plan that will work for every family. Every family has to figure it out for themselves. And then, of course, once you have it figured out, it all changes! Sacrifices change, priorities change, people change.

      Thanks for your story,

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