inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #0 of 107: Ed Ward (captward) Mon 1 Oct 12 09:53
    
The Well is happy to welcome our own Susan Sachs Lipman, known to us
as <sooz>, to discuss her new book on "slow parenting," Fed Up With
Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World. 

Interviewing her is Jessica Mann Gutteridge, also a Well member,
<jessica> 

Now tell us a bit about yourselves, and get talking!
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #1 of 107: Ed Ward (captward) Tue 2 Oct 12 15:49
    
Susan Sachs Lipman (Suz) is the author of Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow
Parenting in a Fast-Moving World. Her book outlines the factors that
create frenzied families; the benefits of slowing down, free time and
play; and the many ways families can reconnect through fun and
affordable activities, games, crafts and more.

Suz blogs at the award-winning Slow Family Online. Her writing has
been featured in the New York Times’ Motherlode blog and the Christian
Science Monitor’s Modern Parenthood blog. Suz is the Social Media
Director for the Children & Nature Network, an international movement
to connect all children and their families to nature, and a 20-year
member of The WELL.  
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #2 of 107: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Tue 2 Oct 12 18:10
    
I am very delighted to get to interview our own <sooz> about her
wonderful book and looking forward to a lively discussion.

A bit about me -- I'm the mother of three boys (ages 10, 6, and 21
months) and work full-time as a lawyer for a large cable company in New
York. I'm also the past president and active board executive committee
member of a community organization in my town which combines a
community center and theater presenting live entertainment. In my
previous life I worked in the theater as a dramaturg and occasional
director, which is how I met my husband, Corin, formerly of Vancouver,
formerly a theater tech guy, and now a creative director for
experiential and event marketing. We live on the north shore of Long
Island, rather a hotbed of overachievement, helicopter parenting, and
frenzy.

So I'll kick us off, and I hope others will chime in with their
thoughts and questions.

Suz, you start the book (following your daughter's lovely foreword)
with some background about how you came to identify that a slowness and
gentleness and connectedness that seemed very natural when your
daughter was small was getting lost somewhere in the frenzy as she grew
older. For those who may not yet be familiar with how this all got
started, can you talk a little here about how you came to notice this
in your own family, and then began to identify an issue in the wider
world you wanted to address?
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #3 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Tue 2 Oct 12 20:21
    
Hello, Jessica, Ed and everyone! I'm thrilled to be here, chatting
about my book and about the Slow Parenting movement. Thank you for the
nice note about my daughter's Foreword. My daughter, Anna, is 16. Her
Foreword is very sweet and reflects a closeness and a frankness that
we've always had. It also reflects her unique spirit and her
appreciation of nature, which was lovely to see. Another fun note about
the book is that my husband, Michael (who goes by the name Lippy) did
the book's illustrations. So, in addition to containing much of our
family lore and traditions, the creation of the book was a family
affair as well.  
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #4 of 107: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Tue 2 Oct 12 20:27
    
When you make a family scrapbook, you don't mess around!
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #5 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Tue 2 Oct 12 20:58
    
Ha, you're right! (And you slipped in while I was composing my
answer.) A family scrapbook is a really nice metaphor.

Now, on to your answer! In the book's intro I outline the joy that our
family experienced during Anna's preschool years -- time spent making
jam and visiting farms and creating art and celebrating seasonal and
other changes with the preschool and neighborhood community. 

Then she entered elementary school and much of that activity seemed to
stop. People suddenly seemed a bit frantic and overscheduled. Children
were dropped off at activities, rather than the whole family playing
and doing things together. The apex of this experience was summed up
for me in the school drop-off zone. Do you all have those? This is the
curb-side lane for cars that makes school drop-off (and pick-up) easy
for working parents but seemed a bit abrupt to me, with parents honking
and cutting in, and signs that read, "Drop, don't stop." It occurred
to me that I could take 10 minutes out of each morning, park a few
blocks from school, and walk Anna in. Those mornings during which we
removed ourselves from the chaos proved delightful. We talked as I
walked her into school. We both made friends along the way (that we
still have to this day.) The act of sidestepping frenzy in one small
way was extremely powerful and rewarding.

The more I talked to other parents, while we volunteered at school or
watched team sports, the more it occurred to me that many other people
shared a sense of frenzy, as well as a yearning for simple things like
family dinners and even down time. While there seemed to be a general
agreement that something was out of balance, that childhood and family
life could be more rewarding, connected and fun, no one knew quite what
to do about it. 

At about this time, I also began serving as a Girl Scout leader
(something I ended up doing for 7 years). I saw that a lot of kids
didn't normally have much opportunity for free play and outdoor play,
for running around, for walking in their own neighborhoods, for making
classic crafts or for playing a lot of the games I had so much fun
playing when I was a kid. I thought I might encourage families to slow
down and enjoy one another (unearthing research about the benefits of
free play and family time in the process) and I thought I might share
some of the resources and activitiesI had learned as a scout leader and
remembered from my own childhood. 

Of course I took a cue from the Slow Food movement, which had begun
years before in Italy, in response to quickly prepared and consumed
fast food. Slow Parenting seemed like a nice way to identify an
alternative lifestyle to the one typically seen among the set of
parents who are very achievement-oriented and see down time as wasted
time, instead of something to be treasured and enjoyed. 
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #6 of 107: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Wed 3 Oct 12 04:47
    
To me, a Slow approach is a no-brainer -- my instinct since my first
child was born was to resist toys that seemed to play with him instead
of the other way around and to build in time for just being and
playing. But there is definitely a strong cultural thread pressing in
the other direction. What do you say to a parent worried that if her or
his family goes Slow the children will be missing out on important
academics and activities?
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #7 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Wed 3 Oct 12 16:38
    
First off, I applaud your instincts about what child-development
experts refer to (and champion) as open-ended toys and play - and "toys
that play with him instead of the other way around" is a terrific
description. Likewise, your thoughts about family and down time, which
those same experts (and I can cite specifics if people would like) tell
us is crucial for all aspects of child development and family bonding.

But there may be no statistic in the world that is powerful enough to
counter some very deep cultural notions that time is finite and should
be used for "productive" and "useful" activities (play not being one of
those) and that children who don't partake in an array of
extracurricular and academic activities will be left behind. 

The good news is that that simply isn't true. A growing body of
research shows that play time and family time, especially in early
childhood, are actually the greatest determinants of academic and other
success. Children learn through play. For that reason, in addition to
many physical and psychological benefits (which I can also go into), we
should place more value on family time and play than we typically do. 

While organized extracurricular activities can be terrific, they
aren't the only way to expand a child's universe. In many cases, they
can inhibit children's learning, experimentation, discovery and family
bonding time. 
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #8 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Wed 3 Oct 12 16:46
    <scribbled by sooz Wed 3 Oct 12 17:06>
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #9 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Wed 3 Oct 12 16:58
    <scribbled by sooz Wed 3 Oct 12 17:06>
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #10 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Wed 3 Oct 12 17:12
    
The third time will be the charm.

This might help people think about the idea of "learning through
play". It comes from Alison Gopnik, psychology professor and author of
The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth,
Love, and the Meaning of Life. Gopnik refers to “guided discovery”, the
notion that small children learn best through exploration and
interaction, wonder and play. Schools teach mastery, which is
wonderful, writes Gopnick, but mastery should follow discovery. She
uses an example from baseball:      

"Routinized learning is not an end in itself. A good coach may well
make his players throw the ball to first base 50 times or swing again
and again in the batting cage. That will help, but by itself it won't
make a strong player. The game itself -- reacting to different pitches,
strategizing about base running -- requires thought, flexibility and
inventiveness." 


It is largely through play, especially for young children, that those
qualities are fostered. We tend to want to rush right through to
mastery (or something that appears like it).

  
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #11 of 107: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Thu 4 Oct 12 07:17
    
I am nothing like a sports person, but that example of drilling
specific skills vs. playing the entire game really resonates for me.

Clearly, debates over parenting approaches are as old as parenting
itself, but it does seem like we are living in a moment that has a lot
of activity on various sides of these issues. Your book has a
remarkably useful appendix loaded with resources and references to
writers talking about Slow Parenting, Mindful Parenting, Free-Range
Parenting, Simplicity Parenting, and so on, and we've also seen a lot
of attention paid to Tiger Moms and similar approaches arguing that
kids need more structure, more academic drilling, more competition. Do
you think these "camps" (for lack of a better term) have anything they
can learn from each other? And how can parents take all this in and
find their way through to an approach they can assimilate into their
lives?
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #12 of 107: those Andropovian bongs (rik) Thu 4 Oct 12 11:44
    
I can't keep up with all this.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #13 of 107: Ruth Bernstein (ruthb) Thu 4 Oct 12 11:47
    
That is a great question and I am very curious about the answer!

I live in Newton, Mass., where I pass at least 3 institutions that aim
to drill kids in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)
subjects in various afterschool programs on my way from my kids' school
back to our house. My kids and I are "straddlers," I think, neither
pursuing a slow style nor pushing ourselves to achieve--I think I
encourage my kids to achieve, but we also spend a fair amount of time
hanging around the house and reading, playing catch (a real comedy of
errors, since none of us is at all athletic), making music,  and
walking around the various parks and cityscapes we have her (I did not
grow up in Boston and I think I appreciate it as only an outsider can. 

I do sometimes worry that my kids are not benefiting as they should
from Russian Math/extreme tennis/drama for geniuses, or that I have
neglected to nurse some eccentricity or other. 
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #14 of 107: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Thu 4 Oct 12 11:52
    
I love love love that notion of being a tourist in your own town. When
I was on my most recent maternity leave, which took me through March
2011, I spent the last couple of weeks as the weather improved taking
long, long walks around town with my husband and the baby while the big
kids were in school, with coffee or lunch overlooking the bay as the
destination/treat. It's amazing what you can see at street level that
you never notice when you're driving by. My kids (especially the middle
one) sometimes complain about being "forced" to go on walks, but by
the time we're out there they always find something new and interesting
to look at -- the ruins of an old pier, a piece of sculpture in a park
we never noticed, a plaque with a bit of history on it.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #15 of 107: Dick (argh) Thu 4 Oct 12 12:05
    
Even 20+ years ago my wife and I strove to keep the level of
extra-curricular activities and extras to a low/manageable level.
Unfortunately, at that time there wasn't any organized theory in
support of this approach to parenting so we simply had to plead that we
were lazy sods and hated our children -- something the other parents
(not to mention the children) never seemed to have trouble believing. 

Seriously, though I think slowing down is a concept that moves in the
right direction, particularly given how utterly disruptive and
intrusive into the home the rest of the world has become in the last
couple of decades. If I'd had to deal with my kids tweeting during
dinner I'd probably still be in prison for child abuse.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #16 of 107: Katie (katelich) Thu 4 Oct 12 12:48
    

I'm definitely a slow parent type in philosophy, but I see how it's
relatively easy when the kids are young and might get harder as they get
older and more of their own interests, rhythms, friendships, etc. come
into play. My kids are currently 8 and 5; they get downtime/freerange time
after school, but between 4 and 6 PM we have something scheduled 4 out of
5 days a week. And that's just with one activity/sport each, which doesn't
seem extreme to me. So I'm curious to hear strategies for keeping the
family pace as mellow as possible as kids get older.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #17 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Thu 4 Oct 12 16:08
    
It’s wonderful to see you all here! You all bring up terrific and
heartfelt points. One of the things I’d like to convey about Slow
Parenting is that the term may be a bit of a misnomer. I don’t think
Slow Parenting is so much about moving at a snail's pace, but rather
about doing things at a pace that is right for the family -- and that
pace may change on any given day. Intentional Parenting is probably a
closer term to what I’m describing. “Slow” helps place it in people’s
minds with other similar movements, and it does serve as an antidote to
the feeling many have that the world is moving a little quickly and at
times heedlessly. 

Dick mentioned technology. I talk a bit about technology in my book.
Of course, it has its uses (witness our discussion), but technology can
also be extremely disruptive to parent-child bonds and to enjoying
other activities, including physical and free play. There are figures
out from the Kaiser Family Foundation that children now spend an
average of 53 hours a week on some form of electronic media. That’s
pretty astounding. And Sherry Turkle, Director of MIT's Initiative on
Technology and Self, has done research on the disruptive use of media
by parents. She interviewed kids who wanted more parental attention
than they were getting because the parents seemed distracted by media.
So there is an intentional piece about deciding where the family’s
technology threshold is, and then acting on it, whether that means
calling a full-blown media vacation, or just taking an afternoon or an
evening off and filling that time with low-key games, crafts, down time
or quiet time.

The “Slow” way is also still far from being the cultural norm (at
least in much of the first world.) Many parents are anxious and
achievement-oriented. There is a remarkably narrow range of what is
considered successful (think eventual Ivy League). Because of this, it
seemed important to me to put a stake in the ground, and stand with the
Simplicity Parenting and other folks who are putting out similar
messages about letting kids have a childhood. Since I haven’t read the
“Tiger Mom” book, I’m not sure what I might glean from it, except that
we all probably love our kids and want what we think is best for them.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #18 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Thu 4 Oct 12 16:15
    
As for Ruth’s concern that she is failing to expose her kids to
something or to nurse an eccentricity, I think we’ve all had that
feeling with our kids. My daughter tried all kinds of things, including
theater, sewing, sports, ballet, piano, scouting, and extracurricular
language lessons. Like Katie does, we tended to have her do one extra
activity at a time and choose things that weren’t terribly disruptive
to family life. For instance, there are sports teams in our town that
meet multiple days a week and travel to games when the kids are young,
and that just seemed like too much a commitment for someone like my
daughter who wanted to dabble and try things. Luckily our community
offered a lot of Park and Rec. and other programs for dabblers. It’s a
loss, frankly, that that isn’t often the case. If kids don’t try lots
of different things when they’re young, when will they? 

Ruth, your family life sounds very lovely and happy, and the things
you do sound fun and bonding. It seems that the eccentricity your
children might display would arise precisely from their free and down
time, and then once it does, you can always act on it and find a way to
enhance their participation in the activity. It is that kind of
organic interest, expressed by a child, that so often proves the most
fruitful anyway. When the parents are programming everything and all
the time is filled, children can miss out on the chance to discover
their unique passions and gifts.

To Katie’s question, my daughter Anna got really busy in high school.
She decided she wanted to go out for sports, having never really done
any of note and now she does one sport at a time (water polo, mountain
biking and lacrosse – how’s that for jumping in?) She’s also on an
ultra-competitive Mock Trial team. She chose all these things and she
convinced us she wanted to try them and she could handle the load.
She’s a senior and she’s really happy. We no longer eat every dinner
together (though we still share as many meals as possible), but I
firmly believe that all the family time we spent when she was younger
-- reading stories nightly, putting on puppet shows and doing crafts,
going on long hikes and floating origami boats in the local creek while
many of her peers were at soccer practice – completely bonded us. We
see each other less now, but we are all very close and have a lot of
fun when we do. I feel that her current activity level is
age-appropriate and chosen by her. It’s also a joy to Anna and to the
family, rather than a cause of stress. That, is seems, should be the
primary question when adding or dropping any activity or exploring the
pace of the family. 

And, Jessica, do you know I have a short section in my book that
advocates being a Tourist in Your Town? That’s a great way to
experience gratitude and the simple, local and daily pleasures of one’s
place and routine.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #19 of 107: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Thu 4 Oct 12 16:44
    
I do! I was trying to find the page number while at the office and
couldn't put my finger on it, but I knew it was in there. 

We live close to New York City, so we also get lots of joy in
exploring NYC that way. Rafe got interested in Old New York, so we
found a free walking tour around lower Manhattan (in the freezing cold
in February) that showed us things we'd never seen. Sometimes we go to
an old favorite, like the Museum of Natural History, and go out of our
way to find something we've never noticed before. 

One thing I found really striking about your book is how focused it is
on getting away from materialism. I don't think of us as a family that
buys the kids every little thing they want, and yet I always feel I'm
tripping over toys and gear. Your craft and activity ideas, for the
most part, require little or nothing in terms of supplies, and the
necessary items are typically things you'd have around the house. It
put me in mind of cooking from a well-stocked pantry, only here the
pantry includes crayons, old paper towel tubes, and so on. It allows
for so much spontaneity -- you don't have to take a trip to the store
before you do a project. 

So with that in mind, I find myself facing the annual Gift Giving
Season of Death -- kid birthdays on Dec. 27 and Jan 4, and Hanukkah,
Christmas, and Yule are all celebrated in our home. How do you handle
holidays and gifts, and how do you explain what you're trying to do to
friends and grandparents?
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #20 of 107: Paula Span (pspan) Thu 4 Oct 12 17:07
    
Oy, don't remind me.

Sooz, congrats on the book and its success!  I wanted to ask if you really
think this approach qualifies as a movement yet.  Do you see evidence around
the country of people talking about slow parenting, trying to adopt it,
perhaps even lobbying schools for less structured activity and more play?
Or is it still sort of inchoate -- we know something is wrong but we're not
clear how to fix it?

By the way, one thing I did when my now 30-year-old was little was, we
vacationed every summer in the same lovely town (Wellfleet, Massachusetts),
mostly because it was so restful for overworked parents to go someplace
known and cherished, rather than map out some new plan each August and go
traipsing.  I always wondered if we should have been "exposing" her to other
places!  and new cultures!  and foreign climes!  But we just didn't.

And it's still, 25 years later, a place we reconnect each summer and love
deeply, and she can go traipsing on her own.  It was our own slow parenting
experience.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #21 of 107: David Albert (aslan) Fri 5 Oct 12 05:11
    
Sooz, thanks for the book!  I have given a copy to my sister, who has
a two-year-old and was very glad to have so many suggested activities
to look through.  They are very much trying to slow things down when
possible.

I'm just wondering, though:  my family (and my sister's family) are
already fully onboard with the idea of slowing down where possible; not
over-programming (although everyone's idea of "over" is different, I
suppose).  Are you finding that your book actually makes a difference
to families that were NOT already in that mindset?  Or is that not the
purpose of the book?
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #22 of 107: Jessica Mann Gutteridge (jessica) Fri 5 Oct 12 11:33
    
Great questions!

While we anticipate sooz's responses, I do encourage you all to chime
in with your thoughts and experiences. As parents, how do you approach
these questions? Any Slow traditions from your own childhoods you're
bringing into your kids' lives? Do you think childhood has changed in
this regard from when you were a kid?
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #23 of 107: Some Things Are Explained (obizuth) Fri 5 Oct 12 15:33
    
i was so determined not to be one of those overscheduling parents. but 
josie, almost 11, has hebrew school 2x/week, a flute lesson and a flute 
group session 1/x week each, debate team 1/x week, and soon she will have 
play rehearsal 1/week getting up to 3x/week in the spring. maxie, 
almost 8, has hebrew school 2x/week and cello 1x/week. we are frequently 
stretched thin and cranky. josie is mak9ing noises about quitting flute 
again, and i'm inclined to agree, but my husband will be SO BUMMED and 
distressed. it's hard for me to lay down the law on this when a) i'm 
ambivalent myself and b) i'm not willing to compromise on hebrew school. 
any thoughts when parents aren't on the same page, suz? and how do we 
weork thru our own ambivalence about cutting something a kid sorta likes, 
in the interest of making family life more serene overall and helping the 
kid focus on and enjoy more the activities she has left? 
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #24 of 107: David Albert (aslan) Fri 5 Oct 12 18:31
    
We tried to listen to our daughter's needs and we tried to be
sensible.  When she first started kindergarten, we signed her up for
just one regular after-school activity (a ceramics class).

But she had a lot of interests, and while she was great at doing
crafts and such at home, there was a limit to how much music or
gymnastics or acting she could do alone at home.  So each year she
seemed to be doing more and more until she was busy nearly every day.

With the start of middle school, though, she has cut way back on her
own accord -- until she can gauge the amount of time she'll have after
getting all her homework done -- so for the fall she's down to two
activities, and has many unscheduled afternoons each week, along with
most weekends free.  And indeed she has a lot more homework with which
to fill that time.
  
inkwell.vue.457 : Susan Sachs Lipman: Fed Up With Frenzy
permalink #25 of 107: Susan Sachs Lipman (sooz) Fri 5 Oct 12 20:13
    
David, your solution sounds so sensible! I think much of its beauty is
that it is truly child-centered and based on the changing needs of
your daughter, which happily seem to dovetail with your family’s. As
with Anna, there have been times during which she thrived with a lot of
activity and other times when cutting back was best for everyone. I
think it’s an especially big challenge if a child truly enjoys an
activity that just pushes the family over the edge. (I’ve seen this
happen, and I’ve seen families continue to be stretched to the point
where everyone is miserable except the busy child.)

With music lessons, we honestly kept Anna going past the point at
which she was enjoying them. The issue then wasn't overscheduling, but
both of us parents really valuing a background in music and not wanting
her to give up too soon. It was really hard but we did ultimately face
the fact that music just wasn't working for her and that we had given
her the benefit of lessons – we weren’t depriving her! 

Marjorie, your situation is especially tough. It does sound like
there’s an obvious activity to drop (flute), as it’s giving your
daughter the least pleasure of all the activities, while possibly
pushing the family over the edge. I think family harmony may have to
win out. She’ll still have a very art- and culture-rich life (she
sounds very verbal :) ) even without flute. It was disappointing for us
to stop Anna’s music lessons (granted, that had more to do with our
own projections and desires -- she really had stopped enjoying them.
But it was still hard.) She since got involved in drama, mock trial,
and other things that music probably wouldn’t have allowed. They can’t
do everything and they can’t do it all at once! 

Music does present a somewhat unique challenge, in that the skills
build, so that it is harder to pick up again than some other interests.
The individual and group lessons do present a double load (and then
there is practicing), so it’s a particularly time-intense commitment.
That said, it may be hard to play flute less, unless there’s another
opportunity with only one class a week. This is a tough one. I
sympathize! Especially because you and your husband don’t agree on it.
Must she add the other things? There might have to be a real family
heart-to-heart, with the idea that something has to give, and an end
goal of dropping one thing, at least for now. I hope you’ll keep us
posted on your progress.

Do others have ideas about this?

Paula, your description of your vacation tradition is especially
lovely. I think a lot of us wonder if we should be repeating favorite
activities at the expense of exploring new ones. (It occurs to me that
this can be a luxury and that many of us who have overscheduling and
similar issues come from a place of abundance and choice.)  

While my family has our share of new experiences, it is often the
repeated ones that form exceedingly strong and warm memories and bonds.
We sometimes visit the same spot in Hawaii where my parents used to
vacation, and we’ve gotten to know some of the people there the way my
parents did. I also feel like my daughter will return on her own, as
yours does Wellfleet. It’s wonderful to have these experiences as a
family – and again, one choice (the familiar) naturally precludes
another (the new.)  

As lovely as the tried-and-true experiences are, my husband and
daughter want to repeat them more than I do – so I give in sometimes
and push the new sometimes, usually to fine results either way. Anna’s
now looking at colleges and, while there’s no Hawaii in the picture,
the places she’s thinking of going are all places we visited as a
family more than once over the years. So she clearly finds those
destinations and memories very cherished as well. 

I’ll be back with some thoughts about holidays and consumerism, which
Jessica asked about. A big topic, to be sure! 
  

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