Thoughts on sports and outside activities

I'd love to hear your thoughts on kids in sports or outside activities sometime.  What has worked best for your family?   ~Wendy

I have to say that I cringe a bit as I think of delving into this topic, because I know that people are very passionate about their opinions on this one.  In fact, I think all of our family members and all of our friends have landed on the other side of this decision from where we sit.  This is just where we're at.  I say "we" because I talked this over with Mark before I sat down to write this post and I'll have him edit it when I'm done, to make sure that I've expressed this well. 

I know.  After that intro, I bet you all think I'm going to say that we're totally opposed to our kids doing sports.

July 4th, and the annual game of flag football with Mark's side of the family.

We're not.


We are not convinced that sports would add enough value that it would be worth the cost to our family.

What we have observed- by watching friends and family- is that involvement in sports takes precious time away from things that we value.  One thing that comes to mind right away is sitting down to eat dinner together as a family.  We value that.  Growing up, each of our families (Mark's and mine) ate together almost every single night- throughout all of our school years- with very few exceptions.  That coming together at the end of the day, the connectedness, the space provided for conversation, discussion and questions-- that was significant for us as we grew up.  We think it's important.  (It took me years to realize that it was not the norm for most families; that many families ate at separate times or fixed their own individual meals or had the TV on the entire time they ate.) 

Another thing that comes to mind is that as a family, we're bound together as a little community for these years and I'm not a fan of being split up for various activities.  From what I see, when children are involved in sports it seems to divide the family.  (Mom stays home with the little ones, or the parents divide and cover different children's practices or games, or Dad is still at work so Mom takes the kids and Dad meets up with them later.)  It divides the family, and we don't want that. 

Also, we purpose not to have a run-around lifestyle.  There is greater peace and harmony in our home and in our relationships when we aren't running to and fro in a bunch of different directions.  We simply choose not to do that.  We stay home. 

Other thoughts:

-I think the level of involvement required for participation in sports is generally too taxing and demanding for a child.  That's just my humble opinion.  I think kids are getting run ragged being involved in so much and for so many hours and I think it's just too much.

-We did two sessions of dance classes for Ella at a local dance studio.  Ella really enjoyed it, and that's why we did it for a season, but in the end it was just too difficult for me to manage the little girls and the boys while she was in class and- you know-- whatever benefit there was for Ella wasn't worth the challenges it brought for the rest of us (the girls had to skip their naps or get woken up, all of us missed quiet times, we were home later for dinner those nights and it generally lent itself to a hurried, frazzled evening.)  Also- it was expensive!  When you add in the cost of the class, the costumes for the performance, the performance fees, all of that?- it's a lot of money!

-Ella (and possibly Isaac) will be taking piano lessons this year.  (But one of the benefits of that is that their teacher will come to us and do the lessons here.  That's huge.  It makes it so much more doable in my mind.)

-I didn't grow up being involved in sports, so that's probably a factor.  (In middle school I did do one year of track and one year of volleyball, but that's it.)

-Mark would like the boys to play football at some point, and we may do that.  Mark has fond memories of playing football as a boy.  (Then again, his dad was the coach and he was able to be on the same team as his older brother, and it was a whole lot less of a time commitment.)  Times have changed.
In August, at the boys-only annual camp-out (once again, Mark's side of the family).  My boys are gearing up for a game of wiffle ball with daddy, their uncles, cousins and grandpa.

-It's not practical for Mark's schedule for us to do sports.  He works almost every Saturday, so if we were to do the sports thing, he would miss any games on Saturdays.  (I think that would be a lot of them, right?)

-I think that the physical element of sports is probably a very good thing- especially for boys.  I don't deny that.  I also think that it's valuable to learn teamwork, and to handle defeat well and to win well, too.  There are other things like dedication and perseverance that can be built through sports.  But I also think those qualities can be sought and taught in other venues.

-I will say, too- that Mark is more "for" sports than I am.  He will emphasize that it's just not where we're at right now, at this season with our kids at their particular ages.  (I, on the other hand- would probably be perfectly fine if we never ventured down that road.)  But he's the boss. What he says goes.  For now he thinks that it's not worth it, so here we are.  Someday down the road, if Mark were to have Saturdays off and if we discovered a lower-commitment football team for the boys to be a part of?  We're in.  And I'll be the cheering-ist mom on the sideline.  But I do think we'll be choosey, no matter what, holding to what we value.


  1. this is a hard one. We did soccer for 2 of our kids one season and that alone was taxing on our family. I agree with what you are saying. Nate and I both grew up plays sports a lot, and love sports so we have been torn. Actually, we decided recently that Nate was going to play tennis with the kids. Nate loves tennis and I love it because the sport isn't bringing us apart, but giving Nate some quality time with the kids. With homeschooling a big challenge has been finding ways to get Lucy exercise, maybe you have suggestions. I see her need for it, and it's hard when it's rainy to figure out how to help her do it. BTW: got some great books at goodwill, what great deals!!! I've been before for books, but it's been over a year and I kind of forgot about it!

    1. Hi Shannon!
      I love it that Nate is going to play tennis with the kids! That's great!- and like you said, good quality time with them and how fun for Nate to pass on his love of tennis to the kids!)
      We know other families who have chosen to take up a sport all together- they invest in bikes or skis or run together or whatever and then they all go play together. I think that's a good solution, too. We're not quite there yet- but... someday!
      My kids play outside a LOT. Before breakfast, after school (which ends for us at around 12, 12:30), and then after quiet times and after dinner, too- most days. So I think they do well in that regard. I do know that it gets more challenging when it's super rainy/cold but I always strive (I don't always succeed) to get them outside every single day-- rain or shine.
      That's exciting about your Goodwill deals! :) FUN!
      Have a great day, Shannon!

  2. We have done sports, but I agree with you! We have chosen Scouts for our older boys and that seems to be enough of out of the houseness for me. My husband wanted them to do soccer and I said that if he was able to arrange for them to get there that was great but when we did it before I was out of the house 4 nights a week and all day Saturday. I couldn't do that, naps, dinner, etc.,
    Very well put.

    1. Oh, good. Glad we're not the ONLY weird ones. ;)
      Love to you!

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Stacy. I love your heart for the Lord and for your family. I only read a few blogs now, and yours is one of them. :)

    This is a hard one. We are a sports family. We all love watching sports, and participating in sports, but I think it can be too much. We are in the process of reevaluating how much time we spend in sports and outside activities.
    We want to have the right balance and not let it become an idol in our lives or for our children. Also, we don't want to be going so much that we aren't able to eat together as a family (this is especially important to me, since I didn't grow up doing this), or be at home enjoying each other. The time with our kids at home is so short.

    1. Oh, Wendy. Thanks for your kind words. I so appreciate them.

      That IS hard. Just pray lots about it with your husband and God will direct you! (((Hugs))) I'll pray for you right now while I'm thinking of it, that God would guide your steps as you examine your schedule!


  4. Agreed and agreed on every point. And, not just sports. I am choosy about ALL outside activities that take us away from our home rhythm. We have our Homeschool group (and that is about all we do) and many of our friends in that group are always doing a zillion other activities (book club, swimming, art, theater, you name it), but I've become known as the Mom who is rather reserved about her schedule. I just hold our home rhythm too sacred. We value family dinners and quiet time and down time for the children to get bored and get creative. Too much running around just doesn't allow for it. Not to mention ever actually fitting in the LESSONS part of homeschool if you're always out and about. :)

    Kudos to you for having the courage to write a post you knew some people would not agree with. :)

    1. Yeah. I guess I mostly talked sports (because that's sort of The Big One), but that's how we are about everything, too. I start feeling a little crazy if we have more than *one* evening thing on our schedule during any given week!

      I fully agree about the quiet time and down time and creativity. :)

      Blessings to you and yours,

  5. I love how you have thought this through. How you and Mark are on the same page. There need be no apology for choosing what works best for us and our individual families.

    I feel very much the same as you yet we have made a choice to be involved in outside stuff. What drove us there is a child who has pretty severe anxiety and social struggles that can only be addressed by being in social settings. He also is super physical and needs to move ALOT. We tried Taekwondo and he couldn't cope but wanted too. Tried 18 months later and he did cope and now ALL of us are taking it except Eli who is learning it by just being there with us. This wasn't a road I was looking for or even wanted but the growth in my son and my own health has made it all worth it.

    I was scared to bite this off fearing it would rule our lives. For the most part we train all together and still eat together around the table but simply at an earlier or later time. It honestly has caused us to be closer. We did this for one childs best interest and it has blessed us all. Our goal is to be a family of black belts. And for us there are sacrifices involved to meet that goal both physically and monetarily. This is a lesson as a family as well.

    So each of our families have a different story and make different choices ALL for his glory. Beautiful isn't it!

    Love ya friend.

    1. Sandi~
      I think that's GREAT! How fun that you're all taking it! :) ~and it's so wonderful that it has been such a blessing for all of you. :)

  6. I am not a sports person at all, but my husband is. However, he works major hours in the summer and sport simply don't fit our schedule. For several years, my older kids and my husband participated in our homeschool group's Just-For-Fun soccer league. Every Saturday, families came together and played and learned the game. There was a separate game for the little-little kids, but otherwise, it was 8-year-old all the way up through dads playing together. It was such a wonderful experience!

    This year, my four oldest kids are participating in a P.E. class taught my students at the local university. It is during the day and super cheap so it's great for us. I'm required to be there for the whole session so I don't have to feel weird about hanging out and watching. :-)

    1. I wish we had a Just-For-Fun flag football league. Of course, I'd still need Saturdays off for that. But I can dream.

    2. Kristin,
      So apparently my husband wants us to join your homeschool group's Just-For-Fun soccer league. And then change it to FOOTBALL. ;)

      It does sound fun!

    3. Oh yes! They have a Just-For-Fun flag football session after soccer ends. It's usually only 4 weeks, but it's almost always cold and rainy so we've never tried it.

  7. Could not have been said better. :)
    This is a hot much pressure to sign them up for - everything. Truly, I could not agree with you more. Thank you for writing this.
    For us, we are going to stay home and together as a family. If the opportunity to participate in low cost activities that we can do together comes up then we'll prayerfully discuss it, otherwise we're staying home enjoying the blessings that go with a quiet schedule. I will add that when we are home more, I naturally reach out to fellowship with others more than when I'm busy. So for me it encourages hospitality.

    Blessings to you and your family~

    1. Dustine,

      That's a good point- about that when you're home more, you end up reaching out more to fellowship with others. I have found that to be true for us, too.

      Blessings to you and yours!

  8. Stacy,
    I feel the exact same way. We enjoy the comforts of home and keeping naps, dinner prep and housework in a routine makes being home together enjoyable and doable for me.
    Seth plays outside a lot too and I'm glad for him. Laura is starting to be able to be outside with him as well and she enjoys that very much.
    My husband just this morning asked me to check into swimming lessons for our kids, so we'll see how that goes. :)

    1. We've done swimming lessons in the past, too. :)

      Isn't it great when the littler kids are old enough to head outside and explore and play (and enjoy it!)? I love that!

      Blessings to you, Heather!

  9. I had grand plans for this new community and sports.

    But then reality (time away, time divided, MONEY spent *NOT* on food, etc - etc) smacked me in the face, and I'm content to join the YMCA and become slightly active in a church. *and we'll play baseball in the spring. for 2.5 months. NOT all summer.

    **we were in our hometown outside Cincinnati last week, and Brian took our 3 oldest boys to a high school football game (where he played, both our brothers played, both our fathers played ... ) and nostalgia has set in. that, and it's college football season. O-H !!!

  10. I totally agree with you, the times we've had the boys in sports, baseball, soccar and tennis, they really didn't like it anyway. If they don't enjoy it, then really what's the point??
    I think a slower paced life is much more healthier for children. Gosh, it's going to be crazy hectic enough when they get to be adults, why put all that stress and pressure on them NOW? Let's let them be kids, and focus on family time.


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