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Taking Time to Relax...and Sing

© 1999, by Lisa M. Roberts

Friday night at the Roberts household is "Take Time to Relax" night. With weekends being just as busy as weekdays for us, if we don't make relaxation mandatory at least once a week it just won't happen.

I first got my inspiration for Friday nights from a little book I bought for my daughter long ago, called (naturally) "Take Time to Relax" by Nancy Carlson. It's about two parents and their daughter who are busy every day, every night, weekday-in and weekend-out. Their "enriching" lives include cooking, aerobic, tennis, swimming, computer classes and more, in addition to their career and academic obligations. Saturdays are filled with chores from dawn to dusk and by Sundays they are all pooped out to move.
It isn't until this family is snowed in -- and absolutely can't go anywhere -- that they "take time to relax," enjoying each other's company...plain and simple. The book served as a warning to me not to sign my kids (or myself) up for too many activities, less we grow apart rather than together as the years pass by.
EPs in particular need to be cautious about warding off activity overload. Because we work at home and are physically on the homefront, the temptation to volunteer for our children's school events is strong. While it's great to take advantage of our physical locale by attending daytime school events (such as plays, concerts, holiday parties, etc.), we should be careful not to lead up too many of them if the time commitment will compete with our income-producing activities.
For myself, I have taken the year off from all volunteer commitments for the first time in ten years. Even so, my kids are as busy as ever (even AFTER dropping Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts from their schedules). My daughter (age11) attends religious class, piano and basketball, plus she's involved (by choice) in community service, sign language and a math team. My son (age 8), has religious class, piano and basketball, plus "Odyssey of the Mind." Between these after-school activities, homework, dinner and bedtime rituals, we have a no-TV, no-computer-games during weekdays house rule to keep them focused.
Which brings me back to our Friday "Take Time to Relax" tradition of a video, pizza and no-shower-tonight policy. By week's end the kids are more than ready to veg out in front of the TV screen, and lately I've hit on a treasure trove of entertainment I'd like to share. Old movie musicals. Nothing beats clean, simple fun (OK, I admit, my husband purposely doesn't come home from work until the closing credits of the so-called "family" movie, but the rest of us consider it fun!). To top it all off, Saturday morning chores now have a new sound that will be eternally etched on our collective family memory. I mean, which one of us will ever forget:
"Mess maker, mess maker, make me a mess!" (from Fiddler on the Roof's "Matchmaker," sung by the older kids to their little brother Thomas); or "If you want your Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La and Po...just leave everything to me!" (from Hello Dolly's opening song, with "TeleTubby" names stuck in to fill the can't-understand-what-she's-saying void); and "What's playing at Rox City? I'll tell you what's playing at Rox City! A guy meets a doll and trips on his shoes, that's what's playing at Rox City!" (from Guys & Dolls signature song, another improvisational version); or "Melissa....I just met a girl named Melissa..." (from West Side Story's "Maria," the day after my oldest son met the new girl down the block...)
This week, try a musical on your kids for size. See how it fits. After all, with such entertaining musical interpretations that could last for months, filling the house with cheer and chuckle, what more can you ask from a Friday night?

Lisa Roberts is the mother of four, owner of The Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family & A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business (Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for purchase at EP and through Amazon.

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