A month ago, I was at a kids’ party enjoying a very nice company of other moms. We spoke about many different things, and of course, we spoke about kids as well. We were telling each other what after school activities our kids are engaged in and exchanging our ideas about choosing the right ones. Swimming, tennis, golf, soccer, basketball, karate, dancing, ballet, chess, piano, language and many others there mentioned. And then a teeny tiny idea came to my mind, and since then I am still thinking of it. So I thought it’s time to share it with others.
The baby is born. And then first we start with baby massages couple of times per week because it is useful for the developing of proper muscles tone, baby swimming lessons because swimming is so natural for babies, baby music lessons because early musical education gives excellent effect on the development of the brain. Then with the toddler, we start early ballet, soccer and drawing lessons. Then it comes the school time, and we want to expose our kids to many different activities apart from school again. Every parent agrees that playing an instrument helps to develop the part of the brain that is responsible for math. Being involved in a team sport such as soccer or basketball helps you to learn teamwork, which allows you to adapt to an office environment later. Individual sports like tennis help you focus on your own goals. Any sports activity is useful for developing a healthy and well-built body. Dancing or ballet makes your posture beautiful and keeps your body lean and flexible. Additional languages are just excellent — the more, the better, and so on and so forth. Who could argue with that? My kids are involved in all sorts of after-school activities: robotics, piano, CrossFit, gymnastics, ballet, soccer, and tennis. Every year, I revise these activities, ask their opinion, and wisely choose what is best for them. Every caring mom does this. Then, we watch their music or dance performances, sports events, and matches. Also, we do lots of photos and videos, posting them on social media. We are incredibly proud of them no matter how good or average they are. We do all of this, and let’s admit it — it is the satisfying part of parenthood. I am so happy that we can offer this incredible gift of education to our little ones.
Times goes on. Our babies become young adults. They graduate from high school and go to college. Freedom, which suddenly descends on them, explodes in many different ways. At last, they can do what they want and not what their parents were pushing them to do. No more boring piano, no more ballet or soccer classes, no more everything that reminds them of their childish school phase because they are adults now, and they can choose. So they “decide” to gain weight. The majority of young adults gain lots of weight because of the inactive lifestyles they start to cultivate. They “choose” to forget foreign languages they learned. They decide to hang out with friends on Friday evenings instead of swim in a pool and then stay in bed until midday the next day because of a long party last night followed by a horrible headache instead of going to play tennis on a lovely Saturday morning. Yes, we all want to show that power is in our hands.
Then, they marry and bring new lives to this world, and then the story starts all over again: they begin with baby massages, swimming lessons, and music lessons. I think you get the point. The majority of us decide to replace our learning time with mummy or daddy baby time when kids are born. At this point, most people would give up on their learning routines and forget themselves. They can’t find time for sports, arts, music, and many other activities that they used to do when they were kids. Does this mean that suddenly, we reach the age when we are no longer interested in growing or suppress our need for it? Why do we suddenly have no time for all these activities but have time for TV series every night? Why do we think all these activities are important for our kids but reject their importance for ourselves? We all want to raise happy and smart kids, but what about us? Why are a healthy weight and body so essential for our kids that they need to run an hour every day on a soccer field, but it becomes unimportant for us? Why is reading for 30 minutes every day a must for kids but not for adults?
Knowledge is a growing resource – the more you use, the more you have. Sadly, the majority of adults associate learning with formal education at school, college, or university, and they think it is enough to use that knowledge later in adult life, so many grownups have no hobbies and interests but expect and push their kids to be interested in something and be busy with all sorts of learning activities.
Let’s become lifelong learners. Our brain is capable of that. Let’s not hide our laziness with the words: “I have no time” and not make excuses explaining to others and convincing ourselves how busy we are. We often believe we cannot afford the time it takes, but it is so not right. Even 15 minutes per day will add up to nearly 100 hours’ period over a year. That would be enough to read two or three serious books, learn a foreign language, finish an online course for crafting or cooking or even to get six-pack abs.
Let’s admit our ignorance and start to seek new knowledge whether it be ballet or karate, drawing or singing, playing piano or knitting. Let’s progress ourselves not only waiting for the progress from the younger generation. Let’s take time to learn new things as an investment to ourselves. Let’s show our kids that learning process is rewarding itself, that we acquire for personal growth throw-out the journey of our life, not only at school. Remember, the secret of lifelong success is lifelong learning.
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
What a great perspective Ausra! I have been thinking about this too. We need to me more intentional with what we do and how we spend our time. So far in the short few years of being a mother I have learned it’s by my example that my kids will learn best and my hope is that my life long example will encourage them most as they enter into adult hood. It’s sad to think we can put so much into our kids and then as adults it goes to waste but it’s a reality we have to face and we have to reassure ourselves that none of it is wasted! You never know when your child will pick up a past language or hobby.
Challenging ourselves as mothers is something I’ve been trying to do without burning out and recently I am seeing how much I need it. It’s hard to find a balance but it’s worth trying!! Thank you for sharing this awesome perspective!
Parenthood is lifelong learning itself. But it should not be the only direction we go. We should try ourselves in different ectivities and learn different things throughout all our lives.