The art of quitting

I will begin by saying that, when it comes to committing to something new, I always have the best intentions.

Actually, I put a lot of thought into the programs in which we participate, the events we choose to attend, the schedule we keep. I remember the first time I registered my newborn daughter for something other than lactation counseling. I agonized for hours over the choice between baby genius music class and infant phenom sport-palooza, even though our daughter was barely holding her head up at the time. I was so excited to get out and do something that I eventually signed up for both. And not too long thereafter, I quit. Both.

Our cumulative ‘quit list’ is as long as my arm. For one reason or another, our family has failed to last the entirety of the following activities: baby music, baby art, baby sport, (baby anything), ballet, gymnastics, ballet (2nd attempt), swimming, ballet (3rd attempt) and one ill-advised mommy boot camp when I was six-weeks post partum. (This was the only occasion in which I wanted my calm, contented newborn to fuss uncontrollably, while I breathlessly did my burpees. I was always jealous of the moms who had to sit out certain intervals to attend to their screaming, crying babies. Lucky ducks.)

Yeah, so we quit things. A lot. We never quite know when the quit is coming, but there are some warning signs. They usually fall into four categories:

Convenience. Swimming is our thing. Knowing this, it may surprise you to see that swimming is on our quit list. This was the season that we failed to get into our preferred pool program and tried a new location. Close to downtown. At 5pm. Rushing to make a swimming lesson in rush hour? Sorry, no. This one lasted two lessons.

Cost. Gymnastics was new and exciting for my husband and I, and it’s one of the least lame programs for very young kids. So as soon as our first born hit the 18-month mark, we were ready for the rings. The classes were… fun, and we eventually enrolled our second born for balance-beam training, but when it came time to sign up for a second semester ($$$), we bowed out. Average attendance: five lessons.

Enjoyability. Here’s where most of the music, art, sport, yoga, salsa-dancing, craft-making endeavors fit into. Basically, they were kind of basic. Once the kids got older and could actually enjoy music and and sport and performing, things changed, but for years there were a lot of empty spots in semi-circles throughout southeast Calgary because we just simply lost interest. After about one lesson.

Vibe. This is a big one. Even when all the other factors fall into place, this is the kicker. Like ballet. We have three daughters who love all things pink. Ballet, buns and body suits were seemingly inescapable. But each time we took the plunge, the vibe just wasn’t right. I can’t explain, except to say that things were a little too serious for a three-year-old in a tutu. So we quit. (But kept the tutus for amateur use.) On average, we lasted about a month or two each time.

So there you have it. The encouraging news is we haven’t quit a single program in almost a year. I’m not sure if this is because I’ve become better at selection, or because the quality of the programs have improved, or because our kids have become too old to swallow the line, “Sorry, honey, but ballet always ends in November.”

Either way, we’re on a roll. Maybe it’s a good time for another mommy boot camp?*

*It’s never/always a good time for mommy boot camp.

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