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Break Time

Leave it to preschoolers to remind their parents to take a break and smell the flowers -- or at least find each blooming crocus and happily touch them all. That's what's been happening in my yard, even with the still unmelted pile of snow in one corner.

This past weekend was one of those rare, unscheduled times. Soccer hasn't started. I haven't yet signed the kids up for swim lessons. No birthday parties on the agenda. The laundry was in good shape. And the weather...beautiful.

All that resulted in a trip to the zoo, a bike ride at the park, three spontaneous play dates and some gardening.

Starting next week, though, our weekend whirlwind begins. Sports schedules kick into gear. And that means planning. But maybe, just maybe, we'll hold it all down to one day so the other day can mean free play for all of us.

How do you balance sports schedules, extra activities, religious schools and downtime?

Today's Talkers: New Mexico to Mandate HPV Vaccine ... Baby Talk: Silly Sounds That Carry Real Impact ... Number of Students Taking Algebra Before High School Increases ... Misconceptions: A Writer Details Her Ordeals to Have a Child

By Stacey Garfinkle |  March 13, 2007; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Preschoolers
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Well it's simple really. Don't overschedule the kids. They get no more than 2 activities each. People in this area think they need to schedule every minute of a child's day or their little dears won't get into college or something. One of my kids plays soccer and takes music lessons and the other just takes music lessons. I think we should only schedule activities that kids are really interested in pursuing. Not what mom and dad are interested for their kids.

And you are right--kids (and adults) need downtime. Time to explore the outdoors, spontaneous time with friends or indoor activities such as reading, drawing, etc.

Posted by: 1st! | March 13, 2007 7:09 AM | Report abuse

I don't live in the DC area, but could it be that pace is self-imposed? We almost ALWAYS find time for a bike ride on the weekends and on our way back, stop by the neighbors to play. She has something two afternoons a week, and the rest of the week we just hang in the neighborhood. With traffic what it is in DC, does it really make it easier on the parent to have something everyday of the week? It seems that is adding stress not subtracting it.

Posted by: nc mom | March 13, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

It's a matter of priorities. My oldest (age 5) participates in one sport for spring and one for fall. No summer/winter sports yet. Although, next year he'll be old enough for basketball and he has expressed an interest so he will probably do a winter sport.

As for birthday parties, we only attend those of his close friends & our family. We usually send a homemade card to his classmate if he doesn't attend the party.

Our goal is to have at least two hours of family time on Saturday and Sunday. We either play at home or the park, or if it is very cold or rainy, we'll head to the play area at the mall before the stores open.

Posted by: MOMto3 | March 13, 2007 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Ha! Ha! Hahahaha. Sorry, I got hysterical. I have 2 teenagers and we have been overscheduling for years. The reason is manyfold. For one thing, kids don't just go out to play anymore so they do several types of exercise activities (soccer - 3 seasons, basketball - one season, baseball - 2 seasons. For the other, all of their close friends are in these activities and this is their major form of socializing.

Also, in my area, the children not signed up for these activities play hours of electronic games. A few weeks ago, my son and all his friends had a totally free day so I took a carload of 13 year old boys to a science museum. After airing out my car (ever sit in a closed car with boys going through puberty - not pleasant) I realized that I needed to find time for these things more often. I don't know when, though. Now that soccer season is about to start, the schedule will get pinched. For all their activities, my kids seem pretty well balanced. They are good at prioritizing, have a million friends, and are clean cut, get excellent grades, and are happy. How many teenagers run up to their mother for a smacking kiss and a hug when they finish a game? It is difficult to see the harm if they are having fun. Of course, I am the one who really suffers because I have to race them from place to place but then again, I only have them for a few more years.

Posted by: Linda | March 13, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes, when the weather is really good, I'll take a day off from work, yank the kids from school, and then we'll do a day trip to the beach or something like that. Quality time with the family is much more important than school.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 13, 2007 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Tomcat | March 13, 2007 9:09 AM | Report abuse

I daddle:

Posted by: Tomcat | March 13, 2007 09:09 AM

Sooo cute!!

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I made a mistake this winter and signed my DD for a Saturday dance class. She LOVES it, but an 11 AM Saturday class toasts the day for almost anything other than small errands in the afternoon. Evening activities, yes, but I am going to try to leave the weekends free for family.

Posted by: Olney | March 13, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't last weekend wonderful? We are in the sports lull, too. Just finished up basketball, haven't started soccer, so we totally played hookie from the chores and errands on Sat and went hiking on Sugarloaf Mt.

I do feel overscheduled, at times. When it was just one, it was very manageable. But, now with two, it is a bit of a juggling act. Weekends are not my issue, though. It's during the week that causes the problem. They both have activities twice a week, which is do-able. It's a struggle to get my son's HW completed, but we do it. But there always seems to be an 'extra' thrown in.

Like this week, the only thing on the planner is a Monday evening activity and then Friday night is the cake bake at cub scouts, so Thurs my son and hubby will be baking. Well, just received a call that the son's soccer coach wants to start practice on thurs, and just this morning the daughters coach emailed to see if anyone could practice tonght. BAM - all the sudden I'm all scheduled up!

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 13, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

We've had pretty good luck coordinating our 2 girls' (7 and almost-10) activities. If they didn't coordinate, it would be much harder, and we'd have to limit them to fewer choices. We also find it easiest to go directly to activities from aftercare pickup (aftercare is largely unscheduled free play/craft time, though sometimes it's all homework time for the oldest, depending on her homework-load at the moment) So most of their activities start at 5-6 pm.

Our regular rotation is: music Tuesday (they have back-to-back lessons, group keyboard for the youngest, then solo piano for the oldest. The oldest practices during the youngest's lesson; the youngest plays indoors with me or on the playground outside in good weather; then usually Dad joins us and we all go out to dinner together.) Gymnastics Thursday (they're in the same 4-child class, the youngest quickly pulled up to near the oldest's ability level). Brownies for the youngest alternating Fridays, immediately after school (requires a midday school pickup and delivery); Juniors for the oldest alternating Sunday afternoons.

All quite reasonable. But then, the kicker, during soccer seasons (fall and spring 10-week seasons), they have soccer practices Monday and Wednesday evenings (DH coaches the youngest's team, which enabled us to synchronize their practices, so he takes and returns with them both and we only have 2 roundtrips instead of 4 practices to arrange pickups/dropoffs, which would drive us over the edge . . .) And of course 2 soccer games at varying times on the weekends, usually on Saturdays (they play rec league, though, so the games are local --- not travel games/tournaments as in the one-step-up leagues).

Usually in the last weeks of soccer season we are starting to feel overstretched/overscheduled, but by the last weeks before soccer restarts we are really missing it . . . I often ask the girls (neutrally) if there's something they'd like to drop, but they are loathe to give up anything (they have their moments about music, but tend to be high on it more often than not, especially right after lessons, and I greatly regret my own lack of lessons, which led to my teaching myself bad habits that will forever limit my playing . . . and playing music, and the by-ear and music theory knowledge they're learning, remains a joy in their lives they can tap throughout adulthood, so I'd have to see real, persistent dissatisfaction with music before letting them drop it and revert to being rough and untutored like me)

During soccer season, our weekend family outings are to soccer games. Outside soccer season, we might toss in an outing to the park, swimming pool, botanical garden --- the less structured family outings. But soccer absorbs that spot in season. My oldest particularly has a best friend, continuously from preschool, that she only sees on her soccer team, and her team has been together 2 years and is a real community for her . . . .

As long as I see them enjoying these activities and getting very different things from them (socialization, exercise, teamwork; grace, strength, feeling at-home in their bodies; musical competence and expressiveness; friendship, crafts/outdoors appreciation, and community) I have no problem facilitating their continuing. Everything is within a 10-20 minute drive. I did rearrange my schedule to let them come home on the schoolbus one day a week (home at 2:45 instead of a 5-ish aftercare pickup) to get a little bit more parent-supervised music practice and homework time in there. Music practice is a perennial sore spot, we're managing to get it in much less often than daily.

Both have tried activities they didn't take to so well and dropped them: jazz dance, ballet, lego team, . . . Also they have summer camps (which we need for childcare anyway) which develop some of the interests that don't fit in the weekly activity scheme: circus camp, horse camp, sleep-away camp, art camp, etc . . . .

Posted by: KB | March 13, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

What - t-ball didn't start for you last weekend - little did I realize the weekend before it was our last free one for who knows how long???

I have 3 - 2 old enough for activities - help me when my youngest wants in. Even w/a limit of ONE activity per kid I feel like our weekends are shot - t-ball for one, soccer for the other. Right now there's some overlap w/swim lessons - but they won't take them again til next winter. Sunday school til the end of May. They love it. But they also love just playing in the backyard, making pancakes on Saturdays. I suppose it's all in just savoring the down time we do have and not caring if the house becomes a disaster area in the process and giving up the guilt about too frequent fast food meals - as long as we have them together.

Posted by: maria | March 13, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Is it a "playdate" if it's spontaneous? Can't kids just play together without giving it some name that brings up the idea of schedules? I hate that term and any other term that provides cover for the overschedules nature of people's lives.

Posted by: Ryan | March 13, 2007 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I gotta agree with Linda- people seem to take the all or nothing approach and either it's all activities all the time or lazing around playing games on the couch.

While I know this won't go over well, I also think most people should not have more than one child.

I think most parents are just doing the best they know how- and they think that if they keep everything controlled and busy through schedules that it must be enriching their lives somehow...and since THEIR lives are so busy and scheduled usually before they have children, they just try and keep up the pace afterwards.

It's a culture issue- a culture that says that "empty time" is "wasted time" and demands that paperwork must be delivered overnight even if it's a Friday afternoon.

Not that scheduled time is always wrong- we don't want to go to the other end of the spectrum either. For parents not wealthy enough to be able to get their kids into scheduled activities, they have kids watching themselves or other kids and boredom and empty time can lead to a lot of problems.

It takes a lot of self awareness, stable life and economic situation, and ability to stand up and decide to do what will work best for the whole family over the long term.

Posted by: Liz D | March 13, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I sign up my kids for outdoor sports activities. Then, when the season begins, my wife and I pray for it to rain hard enough to cancel practice.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 13, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

While I know this won't go over well, I also think most people should not have more than one child.

It takes a lot of self awareness, stable life and economic situation, and ability to stand up and decide to do what will work best for the whole family over the long term.

So Liz -- which is it? Mandatory sterilzation or the ability to decide what is best for your family?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 13, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

My girls (5 and 8) haven't gotten into all that yet. The older one is in Brownies, though, so she stays late at school one day a week. She also has an afterschool program one day a week. This is great for me, as I can either stay late at work or go grocery shopping on either of those days.

We are friends with a family who has decided their limit is one sport or activity per family per season. They have two kids, and that seems to work well for them. We haven't gotten into organized sports. I am turned off by another set of family friends who are so into sports that their children (three of them) all have at least two sports each season (one is swimming, which is all year). The whole family goes to every sports event, if possible. They pull the kids (including the 7 year old) out of school to attend out of state swim meets. They bragged in their six page long Christmas letter about the time their then 6 year old fell asleep at a swim meet after swimming in three events the day before. Now I realize that they are an extreme case, but when the swim team coach at our pool approached me last summer as my girls were in swim lessons and asked if I was interested in them being on the swim team, I was most assuredly not interested.

I guess you can say we are overscheduled with fun things. We have family game night every Friday. We can't wait for the Farmer's Market to open--that is an every week event for us. The girls need to have time to play outside every weekend. Not to mention time to play inside. We don't have time to fit other activities in.

Posted by: single mother by choice | March 13, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Ryan, I agree! I stopped having playdates when my kids were about 3. In my mind, it's a playdate if the parent has to stay and help play. Now, friends just 'come over'.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 13, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

To date, we've limited activities to one thing a week, which my daughter can pick. She's interested in 80 gazillion things (karate, soccer, dance, music -- you name it), but so far, she hasn't been willing to give up gymnastics for anything else, so that's where our Sat. AMs are spent (I take the boy to the daycare at my gym while Dad takes the girl to lessons). Plus she does dance at school once a week, and they do have things like soccer camp sometimes during the summer, so she gets to try some other things without intruding too much into family time.

The only problems we've run into are when we violated that rule -- ie, signed her up for both dance and soccer camp last summer, tried to fit in swimming and gymnastics on Sat, or swimming 2 evenings a week (as the Y doesn't let you do just one night). Total disaster on all fronts -- rush to McD's for crap, get kids, rush home, give boy to dad, change and back in car for 6 PM lesson, shower, get home, maybe have 15 minutes before 7:30 bedtime. It's just not worth it.

BUT. Now it's swim lesson time again -- I see it as a necessary self-preservation skill, and we've already slacked off too long because of logistics. This time we're trying Sunday, which should work better in terms of her energy level and the hassle factor. But, dang, it also means both weekend days are broken up by kid lessons (something we vowed we'd never do). Not so much a huge deal now, as days are already broken up by little bro's nap, but I have no idea how it's going to work long-term -- and it's just going to get worse in another couple of years, when HE starts wanting to do stuff, too.

BTW, thanks to everyone last week who made sandwich suggestions -- I couldn't find the soynut butter, but got cream cheese and dried fruit and carrots and wraps, and she's VERY excited to have a "special" mommy lunch today! Of course, we'll have to see if she's equally excited after eating it today. :-)

Posted by: Laura | March 13, 2007 12:31 PM | Report abuse

My spouse was a bit miffed at me for scheduling something last weekend -- it could have been a free day to be in the backyard. Good thing we had fun, just the two of us.

The kids schedules are becoming a bit clearer and I can see some free time coming up in August. I would like to see my high schooler with more time to devote to studying but I gave in and let him take a sport along with music. My younger one plays two competitive sports. It would be great if she could have one competitive and one recreational but she's just too darn good for that.

So carpool whenever possible. Play tag-team with the spouse -- I'll drop off, you pick up. Multi-task: want some fresh air and nature -- great -- take the dogs to the preserve. Unless you can't help it, keep Sundays for lounging in the backyard. Or on rainy days -- the great variation on doing nothing -- watching golf on tv.

Posted by: soccermom | March 13, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

"Unless you can't help it, keep Sundays for lounging in the backyard"

Does anyone else remember when nothing was scheduled for Sundays? It was a given that that was a family day. I think with all the enriching activites have begun to come at the expense of the family and at the expense of responsibility. I have many neighbors whose kids don't have any chores because they are "soo busy with their activities". What's up with that? Has anyone read the book about "nature deficit disorder", I've read an interview with him and it seems very, very intersting.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 13, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

One of my best decisions this year was to schedule DD's dance lesson on Tuesday night instead of Saturday morning. I do not have her signed up for anything else this year on an ongoing basis.

She has gone to birthday parties, National Theatre (4 and over program) and will see Flumpa at the National Acquarium in Washington DC on March 31st.

I like our quiet weekends just to play, read, cuddle, and enjoy each other's company. Isn't today beautiful outside?

Posted by: shdd | March 13, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse


My hope is that people will be mature enough to realize that it's the best decision for themselves.

I'm not going to present some plan to suggest who should or should not be able to have children, but on a personal level I think "because I want to" and "because it happened" isn't nearly good enough.

I'll also say that under my rules, *I* should not have been born either. I completely understand the point I'm making and the possible ramifications for it- which is why I keep it to a level of personal opinion and judgement.

Posted by: Liz D | March 13, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

moxiemom: our sundays are kind of half filled because we go to church. We don't get home till 12:30 am. but maybe that is unusual to our family.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 2:01 PM | Report abuse

While I know this won't go over well, I also think most people should not have more than one child.

As a population of 6 billion more or less that is rapidly depleting all of the resources neceaary to support itself, it is irresponsible to have more than one child.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 13, 2007 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Liz -- It's your hope that other people will be "mature" enough to agree with you that one child is the correct number?

Your "personal opinion" is kind a judgement on how other people should live their lives -- that's how I read it.

Is it possible "other people" could have a good reason -- beyond "I want" and "It happened" to bring that second or third or fourth child into the world?

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 13, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

WE choose to have one child but I don't think that is the right decision for all people. Liz D-do you think they should have one kid because of all their activities? couldn't you just cut down on the number of activities for each child, instead of throwing away their sibling? As far as the ecological issues, I really want to know is this new? For a long time we have been preaching no more then two people because you are replacing yourselves. Have we screwed up the enviroment so badly, now we are only suppose to have one?

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 2:29 PM | Report abuse

"nature deficit disorder" is the sort of thing that has bothered me about the difference between then and now. I think that a lot of that is because of the dangers involved. In our nice community we've lost kids to being hit by cars, murder and suicide.

And let's be real. Did you ever live that kind of life? I did. We built forts. We also built tunnels and caves that were completely unsafe. My brother was involved in at least two brush fires. Not to mention all of us sneaking off to smoke cigarettes and later, worse.

I worry about my younger one getting hurt in competitive sports. But so far she's been fine and so have her teammates. On the other hand, around the neighborhood we've seen broken arms and legs from skateboarding and bicycles. I've seen horrible bruises on my DD and it turns out their not from sports, they're from putting three kids on a skateboard, going down the hill and wiping out (not that I'm ever told that directly but I generally find out).

Posted by: soccermom | March 13, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Liz and Arlington:
I'm going to piggyback on your conversation because it's one I find very interesting (and complicated). Arlington, you are not saying much about your personal experiences, and I wonder how many children you have, and why you had them?

Actually, the world pop. is 6.8 billion, and modern civilization is destroying the natural world at an unprecedented rate. Liz, I agree with you that people should be aware of how the sheer NUMBER OF PEOPLE (although the quality of those people also has quite an impact on our sensitive home) is destroying our planet to such a degree that soon no one will be able to survive on it. My partner and I joke about how people should have to pass an IQ test to have kids, just to make sure they understand the full ramifications of their actions.

A phenomenon I've noticed, and have struggled with personally, is that people with higher education degrees are having fewer or no children because they make the connection between more people and lower quality of life for everyone, while people with less education are having more children (who are also less educated because there's not enough money to go around for everyone to go to school). So: the educated don't have children and don't pass on those socio-economic benefits and morals, while the less educated have more babies who have more babies. I know these are generalizations, but I'm drawing on reports from national trends on the rising population of certain ethnic groups (who are unfortunately and regrettably stuck in some ugly stereotypes that also limit their social mobility). I also know that social mobility is increasingly difficult for poor families, and I am NOT blaming them or begrudging them for their socio-economic position nor for their lack of education. I think open dialog and compassion are essential to this kind of discourse.

Another thing I notice on these comment pages is how people take everything personally. Arlington, I am not ganging up on you, but am curious about your own reasons/beliefs about having children, and what you hope those children will accomplish in their own lives. Supporting so many lives on such a finite planet is a big burden for us all, and when a person, or couple has children, everyone on this planet pays and works to support them, whether it be a worker in the Caribbean who harvests the sugar for their afternoon snack, or the old Indian mother who gave everything she could so that her son could go to med school and care for your child. Our hyper-globalized world means that, unlike ever before, one person can have a profound impact on us all. I think we need to examine closely the impacts that our individual existence has on the planet.

thank you

Posted by: scout | March 13, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

scout: I don't want to minimize your commitment to the world economy or the global enviroment. But I tend to agree with your assessment. Most of my friends, who have one child and are educated adults, chose one child because it provides THEM a better life and their child. They did not give one HOOT about the Carribean farmer. I know this because we often talk about why we wanted one kid. I also wonder if this is generational. When I was in college, way back in the cave days (late 80s early 90s), all the college greenies were preaching No more then 2 kids. If you had one, you got to be crowned Granola King for the day but two kids were the philosophy. I just looked at a recent book, published in 2006 or 07 that preaches ONE child. So I think younger types and enviromentalists are getting that message. But for us non Green folks, who are educated, we still were thinking that two was fine. We just chose one because we wanted more time, money and resources for our kids and ourselves. I would like to think I actually factored in the global world but in reality, I did not. And neither did any of my friends with one kid.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I meant to say I tend to disagree.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse


Your friends are still able to make the connection, however, between number of people in their family and quality of life for that family, so I think it makes sense that the next step be (again, in our uber-globalized world) people making that connection on a larger scale. Maybe it is generational, in the sense that what my generation has experienced and is coming to realize is that we're the ones getting shat on, and it's not acceptable. I know a lot of my friends hold a lot of contempt for the baby boomers (not that you are one) because they had such a wonderful opportunity to change America, and they threw it out. I think we're coming up on another opportunity like the one of the late 60's. Our goals as a species are changing, but I think we're divided into two very large camps, and the reckoning of that eventual confrontation will define how the world progresses.

Posted by: scout | March 13, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I would also like to say that I don't have any children, but am fairly young and am still considering my life options.

Posted by: scout | March 13, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

scout: I got to go soon and pick up the kid. Yes I agree that educated people can make the mental leap and look at the global picture. I am not a baby boomer. I was born in the 1970s. But my main point is that this is a new message and it is not really being heard outside of the under 30 crowd, who are generally just starting their families. Not a bad message. Something to think about.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 13, 2007 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Scout --

I think Liz was being judgmental by expecting everyone to abide by her one-child rule.

I think it's more an issue of letting people do what's right for their family than defending having a certain number of children.

As far as gloablism being the reason to limit the number of children, you say, "Our hyper-globalized world means that, unlike ever before, one person can have a profound impact on us all" to which I say, have another baby because "one more person can have a profound impact on us all."

By the way, I'm in a pretty nice, well-educated section of Arlington, and 3 kids is the norm now.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 13, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused-- you speak of a coming apocoplyptic period where humanity will be divided into two camps-- are these the "haves" and the "have nots"? If so, weren't you just saying that the haves do not in fact have as many children as the "have not" types? So . . . the have nots are going to outnumber the haves unless all "have" types get busy and have more kids? Don't leave me hanging here . . . I've got one kid and another on the way and I confess i am in the "have" camp-- am I being a good girl because I'm adding to our team-- or very naughty because I am bringing us that much closer to the "Day of reckoning"?

Posted by: to scout | March 13, 2007 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Hi Arlington, thanks for getting back!

I think people should do what's right for their family, too, and sometimes that is purposefully limiting themselves to a certain number of children (zero is a number, grin). I'm not against large families per se; I think that children should be given the best opportunities available and taught to be responsible, independent, analytical adults. Unfortunately, a lot of people do have children because "they want to" or "it happens" and not because they are in a stable position to care for a completely dependent and eager-to-mimic-mom-or-dad baby.

The way you propose that I, we, anyone, have "another baby because . . . " is only one sided. It relies upon the unknowables of personality, intelligence, and circumstance and not upon the (albeit loosely) calculable impact of food, energy and space consumption. We have to consider the give-and-take of individual innovation and consumption. Yes, your 12th child might be brilliant and might be a blessing unto us all, but is it worth it if the other 11 are manipulative, greedy, irresponsible, and otherwise of poor character? I don't know the answer myself. I'm just saying that anyone thinking about having a child should be completely aware of the costs of that extra life (be it to the parents themselves or the rest of us lifeforms who must deal with that person's actions when they are older), and I don't think enough people take all those factors into consideration before having a child. I think you'd find the world would be quite a different place.

I also acknowledge that this is a very sensitive topic for a lot of people, and I'm still working out my own thoughts about it.

Posted by: scout | March 13, 2007 3:44 PM | Report abuse

expecting mom:

Well, I don't think this board is the place for my rant on "the two camps"; I'd probably make a lot of enemies. No, I think the camps are divided along moral lines, and the number of children you have doesn't have too much to do with it -- but the point you bring up is one that I recently had a great discussion with my grandma about. She begged me to have as many children as I could because the groups that we both dislike are so powerful and she thinks "our side" needs all the help it can get. I can see her point, but . . . is it worth it? I don't know yet, I'm not ready to have kids anyway.

Posted by: scout | March 13, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Scout --

I actually agree with you. In an ideal world (you are young, so you should aspire to an ideal world), you do consider whether or not to have the next child. That worked for my family. My take is also that you can only plan the "next" kid -- can you handle one more financially and emotionally -- will the exisitng kid(s) be good sibling(s)? I don't think that you can say, I'm going to have 2 more or 3 more, or as you mentioned 11 more kids. Of course people have twins and people have surprises, and those people have the wisdom to consider those new souls blessings.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 13, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Also, a warning to Scout -- sometime the little buggers are just so wonderful you want to have more of them!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 13, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

arlington . . . you're not my uncle joe, are you???

Posted by: scout | March 13, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

scout: I had to laugh because my grandmother makes the exact same argument on why we should have another child.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 14, 2007 7:53 AM | Report abuse

The best thing to happen to our neighborhood so far this spring has been "The Hole Digging Club." All of the kids have to dig a huge hole in their backyard and then they have these meetings where they either dig -- or they go around inspecting each other's works in progress. Funny how the digging club seems to be much more satisfying to the kids than soccer, or art classes, or dance classes. . . And it requires no transportation and only minimal supervision (mostly to keep them from damaging the irrigation system). And best of all, they invented it themselves!

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 14, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

OK you guys have already made most of my good points :)

Arlington- yes I'm being judgemental, I'm ok with that. No, I don't expect anyone to do anything because of what I say- although I wish they would. In my first response I also said "MOST people should only have one child" Frankly, I actually think very few people should procreate and raise children at all, but let's start with a smaller hurdle and stick to one.

MOST leaves room for special exceptions and circumstances. Of course there are families who can provide emotionally, socially, intellectually, financially, physically, and all other ways perfectly well to raise a well-adjusted, stable, mature person.

These are very few however.

On the issue of global vs personal problems- there are enough points on both sides that I think whichever gets the point across to any particular person is good enough. :)

Posted by: Liz D | March 14, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Can I come?

Posted by: hole digging club | March 14, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

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