The Hamster Wheel

The lazy days of summer have not been so lazy around Team Skelley. And while some of what has taken up our time and energy was unavoidable, much of it was not.

It is hard to write a post like this and not have it sound like I am raining down judgement on other parents' choices, which is why it has taken me four days to sit down and write it. Everyone is different and everybody parents differently, which is nice because how boring would life be if we were raising identical little bot-kids who all acted/looked/thought the same.

So take today's post with a grain of salt, written by one mom.

This summer we have gone from summer camp to to outdoors camp to police camp to sports camp to swim lessons to gymnastics to VBS to more sports camp to weekends with Gramma to weeks with Nana and Aunt Dana to playdates to swim dates to movie dates to dinner dates .... well, you get the picture. And I might be more exhausted now than when summer begun.

Some of the above I label essential  -- time with their grandparents, time with our loved ones, and then the rest of it has a sliding scale of importance. When faced with another round of activities this fall, only throw in The Engineer traveling for work and oh yeah, that little thing called school, finally I said:

Why are we doing this again?

It is hard to see above the water, especially when everyone around you is doggy paddling too. This is the norm. Most of my parent friends are right here in the water -- some are swimming and some are sinking. This week I finally put my feet down only to find that I could touch the bottom. Do you know what I found? There is grace in being still.

This morning in Sunday School, my teacher and good friend Mary introduced this very topic into our discussion. My college pastor would have called that a "God Thing." God knew that this had been weighing on me for days and he worked through Mary because I needed to hear it. We wear our busyness like a badge of honor. I know I do. When people ask me how I am, my response is usually some form of: "Bananas. I have to go here, do this and then there is that."

We are over-scheduled. And no one is forcing us to do all of these things. My kids are good at baseball and soccer, but athletic scholarships are not in their futures. Big plays the guitar, but he is not the next Stevie Ray Vaughn. They do it because it is FUN. But what is not fun is when we average only one family dinner together a week. And it is not fun when we are spending every night on a ball field. It is not fun when the kids are changing clothes in the car and I am tossing them a snack while I wolf down a yogurt because we don't have time for dinner. My stomach and my waistline do not think it is fun either.

So things are going to change around Team Skelley. We aren't off activities altogether as I think that the kids need music and sports and church to challenge them and help them grow into well-rounded, hopefully well-adjusted adults. But they have a time and a place.

This picture is already two years old. These kids are already two years bigger than this. They are a gift, as is our time together. Let's enjoy it.

Do you ever feel like a hamster in a wheel?


  1. Yep, we should live like the Spanish and Italians! Go home and eat a big family style lunch and then nap before going back to work and school!

  2. Yes, I always feel like a hamster in a wheel and I'm sinking (someone throw me a life jacket) -- full-time career mom life is extremely challenging for me to manage. I have severely limited my commitments and still feel overwhelmed all of the time. M is down from two activities to one - we plan to keep it that way until (at least) fall 2016 / Kindergarten Year. H is TDY now and I have to go TDY in late August. It's all too much -- we are discussing how to make big changes in 2016 to reclaim our sanity, physical health and family time! Your post is spot on and very timely for me as we consider what to do in the future. This "hamster wheel" lifestyle isn't healthy, sustainable nor necessary and I need to teach M that during her childhood. Good for you for recognizing the need for change and doing something about it!

    1. I can't believe Miss M is in her last year of preschool! How time flies. I think that something always has to give and sometimes it is health, friends, relationships ... finding that balance is so essential yet we don't make it a priority. I don't know why.


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