Work Life Balance

Sick Of Driving Your Kids Around? Take A ‘Radical Sabbatical’

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One of the things that mildly bothered me growing up was how my parents made us get to our own activities. They were pretty cool about letting us take part in various things — I was always involved in Yearbook, choir and school plays while my brother was more into soccer and student government and my sister was into volleyball and community theater. But we had to get ourselves to and from these activities. We didn’t live in the city and this required a lot of planning — and walking or bike riding — on our part.

But you know what? My parents didn’t burn out. They were sure to pick us up if needed, but it wasn’t a constant juggling of activities for them. My dad, a pastor, had meetings and counseling and classes most after-school hours anyway. He was there in a pinch, but was not about to put our chauffeuring needs ahead of his parishioners.

The Kansas City Star reports on how mother Joanne Kraft got sick and tired of all the soccer practices, choir lessons, baseball games and bake sales she had to deal with after her full day of work as a dispatcher.

“I felt like a Third World taxi driver,” she joked.

So what did she do? Well, she and her husband decided their family would take a year off from everything other than school.

The daughter, who was playing soccer, taking vocal lessons and doing community theater, thought it was a joke. It wasn’t. Any activity that required Kraft’s driving services was off limits unless it was actual school or a school sport.

She called it a “radical sabbatical.” And the family had a good experience with. Kraft wrote a book that she hopes will give other parents the confidence to try it as well.

The kids say they developed more family memories out of the year off and one boy says his grades improved dramatically.

The family has since taken other sabbaticals, such as time off of television. That one actually stuck. I found myself so addicted to television that I took a year off from home viewing. If I wanted to see the Broncos play, I went to the bar. A particular television event that needed watching got watched at a friend’s house. It was a great year. But I’m glad I have my television back.

Anyway, saying no to all of these activities sounds like a brilliant idea. I hope this book starts a trend in more balanced family life.