marriage, motherhood, Parenting

I Used To Be A Sheep 

I have always been one of those people who value other people’s opinions and who can be easily led down a certain path. Saying that, my strong moral compass has almost always managed to steer me straight when I realise I’ve gone a little too far down the wrong path. Thanks mom!

When you become a mom, there are so many, many, options available to you. The sheer volume of options can be very overwhelming. We spend hours reading books and researching option on the internet, I even wrote a post a while ago about what new and expecting mom’s really need to know: Realistic Advice for New Moms

The options are endless, and they never stop. I guess that’s something we should be exceedingly grateful for, the fact that we have all these options and all these choices, but sometimes, often, it can be overwhelming.

As someone who has always valued other people’s opinions, I tend to rely more on word of mouth advice than on what the books and the over-commercialised world around me tells me is important or necessary.

About a year ago, I realised that so many kids were doing more. More maths lessons after school. More tennis lessons. More swimming lessons. More dancing lessons. More reading lessons. ALL the extra in-school activities (Playball, Monkeynastix, Art … there are 5 extra options) instead of just picking one or two.

I started to think that I was doing my girls an injustice because they weren’t ‘doing it all’, particularly for my eldest who is in Grade R going into Grade 1 next year. I spoke to my husband and he heard what I was saying and started to worry too that our girls were going to get ‘left behind’ by not doing everything as well.

I’m not sure whether it is the fact that I’m getting older now, or that I’m starting to feel like I’m doing an okay job at being a mother, but I have gained more confidence and I am trusting my moral compass and instincts more when it comes to making decisions for my girls.

Whatever it is, I stopped. I stopped being a sheep.

I stopped listening to everyone else. I stopped panicking and stressing that I wasn’t doing everything I could for them, because I realised that, in my opinion, I am.

At the beginning of this year I told my girls to pick one extra in-school activity and one after-school activity. I explained to them that whatever they picked, that was up to them, but they could only choose one and they had to stick with it for the whole year.

I also questioned whether all the extra educational maths and reading lessons were really necessary. They go to a very good school, and was it really necessary to pay more for extra lessons so they can be ahead of everyone else in the class? Surely the school should be teaching them what they need to know at their age – isn’t that the point of the hectic school fees? I decided that it wasn’t necessary.

I also felt that if I fill their days with a million different activities, when will they get the time to just be kids?

Swimming lessons were the only one they didn’t get a choice on because that’s not a ‘nice-to-do’ activity, it’s a life skill they must have. Saying that though, I decided to stop their lessons at the end of May and I will resume them in October – the winter months.

The reaction I got from a lot of the car-park mom’s, dance mom’s and swim mom’s when they realised that I wasn’t following ‘the herd’ was one of surprise.

They weren’t judging me. They were just surprised.

I think the surprise came from the fact that someone was saying something different to what everyone else was saying.

I’m not here to justify my choices, I’m doing what I think is best for my girls. That’s the confidence I have gained. The confidence in knowing that I am doing what is best for MY children. The confidence to make tough decisions and not to worry about what other’s think about them because at the end of the day it’s about what’s best for them.

My girls sometimes complain about some of it. My eldest asks me why she can’t do all the things her bff does, and I explain to her that just because the other activities are available doesn’t mean she has to do them.

I also use the choices I gave them, and the decisions they made as lessons to teach them about money. I explain that everything costs money. I don’t mind paying for what is important, but if they want to do Playball AND Monkeynastix, then I’m going to have to stop their dance lessons. I think it’s an important lesson for them, and they are never too young to learn things like that.

Now, I’m not saying that all the other mom’s I’m in contact with ARE sheep. They are doing what they believe is best for their children, and that’s great. I am certainly not judging other parent’s decisions either, but sometimes I wonder if we don’t all get swept along, and if we just had the chance to take a breath, we’d do things differently.

Whilst I’m not looking for validation that I’m doing the right thing because I know that I am, it is nice to know that there are other mom’s out there who also believe that it’s not necessary for our little’s to ‘do it all right now!’. Here’s an excellent piece written by a fellow blogger, the lovely Luchae over at My Spreadsheet Brain with her take on Extra-Murals.

So now that I’m ‘not a sheep’, does that make me a trail-blazer? Certainly not. Does it make me a goat – stubborn and confrontational? Who knows … maybe I should ask my husband to answer that question? Or maybe not!  I think a large part of my ‘new’ self-confidence comes from my husband, and the fact that he has encouraged and motivated (okay … pushed) me to be more confident, to make hard decisions, and to part of our family’s decision-making. I no longer defer to him in all things, he values my opinion, and we work it out together. I’d like to think he appreciates that too, the fact that we are now more of a team. Thanks, my love.

I used to walk into a room and wonder if they liked me. Now I walk into a room and wonder if I like them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post, even if you think I’m wrong. Why? Because ultimately, I still like to hear other people’s opinions even if I’m now confident enough to make my own decisions.


A Blogging Good Time
One Messy Mama
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31 thoughts on “I Used To Be A Sheep ”

  1. I couldn’t agree more. Where we live there is so much pressure for kids to be doing more, well actually not for the kids, but from the parents who will tell you that their child is doing 10 after school clubs and learning Mandarin. And it’s so easy to panic that we should be doing the same. But a few years ago I decided to listen to my kids and my instincts and my kids don’t do much out of school but they are children and they play. #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this! I totally agree with you – we know what’s best for our own kids, for our family. There’s no need to go along with everyone else – and over extend ourselves, and exhaust our kids – just because we’re afraid of what everyone else will think of us. #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this and totally agree. As a parent we have to do what’s best for our kids. Their little life’s are hectic enough they don’t need to have constant activities. It’s good for them to bored and use their imagination to make their own fun #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. I see some kids shuttled from one activity to the next. I often wonder how many of them the actual child wants to do!

      Like

  4. Oh I’ve just got to the point where my eldest has started being offered extra curricular activities at school. His friends are all doing them and I felt pressure too as well. But he’s happy coming home and doing things as a family. So I’m not going to feel pressured anymore – just like you. I’m going to do what’s best for us as a family and for my children to really enjoy and cherish their childhood. Great post #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It is so easy to compare ourselves to other parents but you have to do what works for you and your kids. I never let my kids do more than one afterschool activity, mostly because I didn’t have the energy to be going back and waiting around everyday and I felt it wasn’t necessary that they had to so busy all the time. #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Glad to hear that you are no longer a sheep and giving the kids the ability to make their own choice but having to stick to it for a year. Sometimes children can have far too many activities timetabled in #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Good for you! I also feel like “kids these days” are overscheduled. However, my daughter LOVES taking dance lessons, so she does that 3 hours a week. But it’s her choice, and the minute she’s not enjoying it, she can be done (at the end of the season I’ve already paid for, of course!)
    This also falls into the working parents and school aged kids world though, because I have to do something with my kids until 5:30 when we can be home together – so they stay at school in after-school care doing “stuff” non stop until we pick them up. I wish I could give the girls more unstructured time in the week, but it’s so hard to do with homework, dinners, and those dance classes!
    ~Jess
    #GlobalBlogging

    Like

  8. I love it! I worked with kids, many of my friends are teachers and we all agree on one thing – most kids who are too busy end up doing worse than the kids who have free time to dream and play. You just keep on trusting in your instincts! #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this! And I agree completely. Kids (and us adults) don’t need to be doing things just because everyone else is. I got caught up in the feeling there was all this stuff I was supposed to do as a new mum but now I care more about what is best for me and my son. Who cares what other mums think!!

    Great post! #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi. Love this! I actually had this same realisation this week when my son refused to continue rugby practice. I kept thinking I’m doing him an injustice by not letting him try out every single sport the school could offer. Then I realised ALL THIS IN NOT NECESSARY! And I allowed him to quit, after I explained the effects of his decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OMW..it feels as if you were writing this post about me. I used to be a sheep more in my own life than in the decisions I made for my (2) boys. Recently I have decided not to give in too much or worry about what others think. I know exactly how much I love my friends and family and I decided to stop constantly having to prove my love/loyalty to them…Even though my recent decisions have made my friendship/family circle smaller, I feel so much better about life in general and I am definitely less stressed about what people think about me. So long story short…you are doing great momma!

    Liked by 1 person

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