“Oh the noise, noise, NOISE,” said the Grinch in the famous movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. As a parent raising a child in Washington, DC, I often want to cover my ears to keep out the noise. No, I am not talking about traffic barreling down the avenues or the long parade of sirens as a motorcade goes by. I am talking about listening to other parents as they relay the laundry list of activities that their children are involved in, the boasting of achievements their children have earned, the multiple languages their young children can speak, what school they go to, what cotillion they belong to or summer camps their children attend.
Now, before you object or become defensive to any of those stated above, let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with any of them. In some ways, it is also the beauty of raising your child in the Nation’s Capital. There are so many choices, and often it can feel overwhelming. As parents, we have all been in the school parking lot or on the sidelines at various sporting event and our friends, usually well intentioned, regale us with the numerous activities in which their child participates. Or, we may be trying to schedule a play date (yes, in DC, those often need to be scheduled) and we find that there is only a sliver of time available where the two children’s schedules overlap with any free time. All of the above is my definition of noise of parenting in DC.
So, now what? What do we do to contain the noise? Here are two helpful guidelines:
- What are your family values?
The noise is louder if you don’t have your family values in clear focus. Decide what YOU value. Decide how best to allocate your family’s precious time. What is a comfortable level of busy in order for your family to function at its best? When families are overscheduled and feel too many pressures, various dysfunctions begin to present themselves: acting out behavior, poor sleeping habits, discord between family members, the list goes on. Decide what is important to you and STICK TO IT.
- Don’t try and keep up with the Jones because you will lose every time.
If you try to keep up with what everyone else is doing, you will eventually burn out. Your child does not have enough hours in the day to be involved with all of the available activities in Washington. Competing will leave you feeling like nothing is ever good enough. Stop competing, you’re good enough already!
Quieting the noise of parenting your children in Washington begins with you. Treat less like a new way of life rather than a four-letter word. Your family will thank you.