Kevin Stecko is the founder and president of 80sTees.com.  He's been operating the business since December of 1999.

Family Post: The Stress of Keeping Up with Sports

Since I’ve scaled down the business I’ve had a lot of time to spend however I choose. Some of that time has been dedicated to working out (both with a trainer and solo on my days off from the trainer). The other portion of that time has largely been dedicated to hanging out with the family. My oldest is almost 9, middle is 6, and youngest is almost 4.

We’ve spent a large portion of the summer swimming. And many evenings we’ll ride bikes or shoot basketball. Sometimes our neighbor’s 2 kids are along for the fun, usually we are solo. This morning I dropped the oldest boy off at a basketball camp and the younger boys and I went to eat breakfast and then to a playground. I realize how lucky I am to be able to spend this time with the boys since most fathers have to be at work. My hope is that my kids will remember these days with great fondness.

I read a book called Simplicity Parenting recently, and I’m totally on board with it. The TLDR version of the book is that kids have too much these days. The stuff they have too much of would be material goods and sports or activities. That’s one reason I love camps and Vacation Bible Schools. It’s usually a week or less and then it’s over.

So our summer is pretty open. That means on any given day we are up for an adventure or maybe we need a down day and we chill. Our middle boy is very gregarious and outgoing, and therefore he gets invited over to hang with friends he has made at school quite often. Usually the kids inviting him don’t have brothers, so the moms like their child having someone else to play with. Our oldest boy, though, is not quite as outgoing and doesn’t have quite the rolodex of friends. He has wanted to have a friend over to swim and play Nerf gun games, etc. So we have invited a few friends over and it’s been quite an experience trying to schedule a time for a friend to come over. Travel baseball, even for 8 year olds, is quite intense in terms of scheduling.

Our oldest likes basketball and our middle likes baseball and basketball, but so far we’ve stuck to clinics and local recreation leagues. But I have to admit to feeling stressed when I see how much time other children are spending at these travel sports. It makes me think that someday my kids might decide they want to play sports and they’ll be too far behind the other kids by then.

But I don’t want my life to be ruled by outside forces like sports. I don’t want to have to tell my family that we can’t see them on their birthday because of a game or practice. I don’t want to spend every Mother’s Day at a tournament like my brother’s family has done. I am not condemning people who make that choice. It seems that there is usually an unofficial “family” formed around the travel leagues and they seem to have great fun together. But as the children get older and the competition gets more intense the family shrinks. Real families don’t shrink. And I imagine that most of the “sports family” fizzles apart quickly once the sport is done.

So I am writing this post as a reminder to myself of what I value. I value my family. I want to make great memories within my family. I want my kids to see Grandma on Mother’s Day and to spend the day with their Mom. I’ll show this post to my wife, to my kids, and to myself as we are forced to make decisions about how far to go with sports or other activities.

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