"I quit something this week and it feels fantastic"

Mia Freedman is a quitter.

This week I quit violin lessons. Not mine, but my son’s. But it felt like mine. I had to write the break-up email to the (lovely) teacher, I had to deal with the emotional angst in the lead-up to making the final decision. I had to return the violin. Sheepishly.

I think I even said, “it’s not you, it’s me”. Because it is, really. I just wasn’t up to enforcing the daily practice and having the daily arguments about the daily practice. By the time we get home from after-school care and unpack the school bag and get showered and have dinner and do homework…’s too much.

He’s six.

“I felt a bit lighter, a bit freer, a bit richer.”

It was my husband who drew my attention to this fact. He was the one who said, “Let’s call this violin thing.” And my God it was a relief.

I’ve always been a bit tortured about my kids quitting activities. There’s the disciplinarian in me that feels like if I let them quit, it teaches them to be a quitter. And then they’ll go on to quit uni and quit jobs and quit therapy and quit relationships when things get a little hard.

Obviously, that would be bad.

So the result is that I usually make them keep doing something they hate for a good while after they start to hate it.

Suffer the children, you and your tennis lessons.

There’s quite a few things that we haven’t quit. Kids sport.

With three kids aged 6- 17 years, there are very few things we haven’t quit in our family. Drums. Guitar. Cello. Piano. Tennis. Surfing. Karate. Ballet. Drama. Soccer. Swimming. Gymnastics.

And I have to tell you I’ve felt a little lighter after each quitting. A little freer. A bit richer. A lot happier. I feel far less guilty about it than I used to, especially after talking to a girlfriend with four kids who recently let her daughter quit swimming squad and her son quit guitar. “What’s wrong with letting kids try different things to see what they like?” she says. “Isn’t that what adults do? Isn’t it how you work out what you enjoy?”

You know what I enjoy? Less stress. More time with my kids not spent in the car on the way to or from an activity. But not everyone feels the same.

Mamamia’s director of podcasts and the host of Mamamia Outloud, Monique Bowley (who used to play national league basketball) thinks I’m making a massive mistake by letting my kids quit things. We had it out in this week’s episode:

The full episode is here:

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Have many activities do your kids do every week? Would you ever let them quit?