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Too Much Of a Good Thing?

 

It is done for the best reasons and with the best of intentions. We want what is best for our children. We want our children to have more than we had. We want to keep them off the streets and away from the temptation of drugs. We want our children to get good grades. We want them to get into the best college. We want them to land a great job. We want them to be happy and never suffer pain or disappointment. We want to be perfect parents. And we want perfect kids.

Aside from the impossibility of reaching any let alone all of these goals, is something else being lost? Are our children being robbed of their childhood?

Are children today overscheduled? Are we losing precious family time to organized and structured activities? Are we inadvertently stunting our children’s capacity to create and to be self-reliant, and to think for themselves? Can children who are over-scheduled ever learn how to spend free time or figure out on their own what to do when they are bored ? Can they dream? Can they invent their own games? Can they learn to deal with failure or rejection? Can they just veg out? Can they just hang out with friends and do nothing?

And is constantly chauffeuring and rushing children from one activity to another really spending quality time with them? Would eating humble meatloaf at home round the kitchen table be time better spent with our children?

Does everything in life have to be an amazing race with our eye on the prize? Can’t we just participate in an activity for the sheer joy of it?

Does every activity have to be organized with a resume builder, sports fame, or acceptance at a prestigious college the end goal? Is it possible to just spend time with our children for the sheer joy of it?

Last summer I saw one of the saddest things I have ever seen. I was walking in the park next to where I live. A father was trying to teach his 5, maybe 6 year old how to kick a soccer ball and run with it down the field, a difficult task for an older child let alone a young one.

The child just kept picking the ball up and throwing it and laughing at the moving object. The father admonished him and kept saying, “Pay attention. Let’s learn how to do this.” Wasn’t it enough to let the child enjoy the ball and play with it? Play is how young children learn. Isn’t there time to let children learn and discover on their own?

Does life really have to be so busy, full, and complicated ALL OF THE TIME? Can’t we even just once in a while sit back, kick off our shoes,  and just let life go on at its own pace?

Can we have a balance of organized activity with some unorganized? Is it possible to give out children time to think and take a breather once in a while?

The other day I ran across a wonderful cooking blog that dealt with this very topic. The writer wrote a very thoughtful, insightful, and poignant post on this topic.

BasilMomma is a wonderful site. It has great family style recipes that are quick, easy, and budget friendly. In short, my kind of cooking. She is also a very good writer. BasilMomma is such a good site I am adding it to MTTD’s Blog Roll. I encourage you to visit this delightful site.

I contacted BasilMomma and she graciously granted me permission to use her post here.

She begins her post by giving some family history. Then she writes:

For the first time since my oldest son was 3 we will not be playing baseball this summer.  I don’t know who is having a harder time with this, my son or myself. 

She then describes a typical summer day last year in the life of her oldest son. Busy. Busy. Busy.

Then she writes this:

In August I asked both of my kids what their highs and lows of summer break were.  I got the usual response from my youngest child.  My firstborn looked at me with a weary expression and said “Mom, my break is over and all I did was go from practice, to games to meets and back home again.”  That really hit home with me.  I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt that I had robbed him of a break.  Everyone needs to “disconnect” every once in a while, children are no exception.

Then she gets to the crux of the matter. I could write reams and reams and never say what BasilMomma says in three short paragraphs. I have read scores of articles on this topic that never got to the heart and soul of the matter the way BasilMomma does. 

I don’t know if we were afraid that if we sat out a year of baseball that he would never go back or if I felt some responsibility, for some reason, to expose my kids to anything and everything I could in that 2 and 1/2 month time period.  It’s not like he was the next Derek Jeter.  He is a good ball player and he loves the game but over the last few years the increased activity level of our “vacations” were taking a toll.  Summer should be about lazy days by the pool, catching lightning bugs, fishing in our pond and trips to state parks.  Not maintaing a schedule, bags packed for long days at the ball fields and missed opportunities to have fun.

The decision this year to skip baseball was an easy one and we aren’t looking back.  We will miss the families that we have gotten to know over the years and we will certainly miss the game. 

But what I won’t miss are the smiles on my kid’s faces when I say we have a day with no plans.  No errands to run, no places to go.  The biggest choice we will have will be what I make for dinner. Sidewalk chalk or bubbles, go to the lake or sit by the pool.
 
We will get to have lots of highs and hopefully not many lows.  I will do my best to respect the fact that they, like us adults, need a break too.  I will create more “down time”.  I have found that as my kids get older that my favorite time of the day is when they sit at the table in our kitchen and watch me cook.  We have long, rambling conversations and without knowing it they have told me so much about their day and what is going on in their lives. They fill me with happiness and I listen to them, love them and nourish their hearts and souls.  [Emphasis all mine.]   

 You can read the complete post, An Overscheduled Life…..  by clicking the link.

So, are children over scheduled?

I don’t think there is any one size fits all answer to that question. It is individual for each family and for each child in that family. Yet, I think a balance has to be reached. But again what that balance is will be different in each family and for each child. And I think that balance changes with time as well. You just need to be attuned to the needs and changing needs of all family members.

Featured Recipe   
Creamy Mini Shell Pasta With Bacon and Peas

Fittingly, today’s recipe is a BasilMomma recipe. It is the one she used with the Overscheduled post.  She says it is a favorite in her house and best of all, it only takes 15 minutes to fix. It looked wonderful. So I decided to try it and share it with you.

I cut the recipe below in half for me. Cut in half it made enough for 3 or 4, so I am thinking the full recipe would serve 5-6, maybe more.

This recipe comes together nicely and quickly. One step easily flows into the next. It is perfect for a busy night. And best of all it is very tasty too.

I did not have to use any of the reserved pasta water, but I did use a full 3 tablespoons of cream to get the consistency I wanted.

This is what you will need:

10 slices bacon (cut with kirchen shears)

1 pound mini shell pasta

olive oil

a pat of butter

2 cups frozen sweet peas

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 lemon, use juice of ½

6 ounces Parmesan cheese

salt/pepper

This is what you do:

Put the water for the pasta on the burner over high heat.  

Using kitchen shears or a knife, slice  or dice the bacon.

Add the olive oil and butter to a large skillet on medium heat.

Add the bacon and cook until browned.  Drain a little of the bacon grease if you want to and turn the heat down to a low setting.

It was around this time that the pasta water started boiling. So I added the pasta.

As soon as the bacon is golden add the peas and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the cream and stir, gently.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta liquid in case you need it to thin out the pasta in the end.

Reserved pasta water.

Add the hot pasta to the peas/bacon.  Squeeze the lemon over the pasta. 

Stir this together and let it incorporate. Remove from heat and add the cheese. Give the finished pasta fresh ground pepper and salt if you need it.

Serve with a salad and/or some fruit.

Bon Appetit!!!!

Cost*

10 slices bacon                        $2.40

1 pound mini shell pasta           $0.99

olive oil                                   $0.25

a pat of butter                         $0.15

2 cups frozen sweet peas         $1.78

3 tablespoons heavy cream       $0.38

1 lemon, use juice of ½           $0.16

6 ounces Parmesan cheese       $3.54

salt/pepper

*Figured on full recipe.

Total cost = $9.65
Cost per person (6) = $1.60

Quote of the Day

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.  
Albert Einstein
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6 comments to Too Much Of a Good Thing?

  • This was wonderful! Thank you 🙂 I have never recieved such high praise!

  • […] is such a good site I am adding it to MTTD’s Blog Roll. I encourage you to visit this … easy family style recipes – Google Blog Search This entry was posted in Easy Family Recipes and tagged Dough, good, more, much, than, Thing, […]

  • Absolutely, I agree! And thanks for including BasilMomma’s take on it, as well. Activities are nice, but kids need to be kids, too. With all the pressures they receive to perform, they need a chance to step back and just be themselves, discovering the world on their own. We ALL need to do this.

    The recipe sounds great. Will have to try it, thanks!

  • JC

    Wow, that’s the same recipe I’m newly trying out from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Revolution! Awesome to hear it’s a gooder 🙂

    • Roberta

      Actually, Jamie’s recipe uses crème fraîche and mint. This one does not. This is Basil Momma’s recipe and she did not say where she got it or on which recipe she based it. If you make Jamie’s let us know how it is and how it compares to this version. Thanks.