Taking the Time to Quit

Melissa Roja Lawlor
Sept. 13, 2012

Blogger Stephanie Lema shares her unique approach to handling quitting as part of the Care.com Interview Series

Blogger Stephanie Lema, who chronicles her life in Silicon Valley at Be Positive Mom, often considers her father's advice before making tough decisions: think it through. Even just recently when laying the groundwork to start her own business seemed too overwhelming, Lema pushed herself to consider all her options. And when it comes to her kids' relationship with quitting, Lema advises not to rush, and to use a unique approach she calls "regroup and reset" when all they want to do is throw in the towel (or, in her son's case, his golf club).

How active are your kids and family?

My daughter is in pre-school full-time and we have her in a "gymster" program as well as a music class. My son just started Kindergarten and we are exploring the activities he can join through the school as well. We stay pretty active by visiting the local zoo, going on evening walks, playing ball in the backyard, and my husband and son golf together. My son likes to do yoga with me and thinks "the ball" is pretty cool. He also picked out little weights at the store one day instead of a toy!

What is your personal philosophy on quitting?

Oh quitting. It is easy and tempting to do when we are out of our comfort zone. Different life situations present themselves to us and often make us want to quit. I've wanted to quit already in the process of getting my business running.

As I've gotten older, I see how big changes come with transition periods. Things take time to settle in. My philosophy for quitting is pretty simple. Give something the time it deserves to evolve with your goals in mind. Evaluate the progress. Reset your approach if needed. Then, decide what to do next. Quitting, or "moving on," may be the best option that fits the situation. If moving on to something else makes sense, then yes, by all means because it may just be the right choice. The key is to give it time. The time you give it may just keep you engaged and be the best thing in the long run.

Have you ever felt that your kids are doing too much?

I haven't reached the point of feeling like they are doing too much, maybe because they are still young. I want them to enjoy what they are doing. Running around from soccer to violin lessons to karate seems stressful to me and could potentially be for them as well.

Growing up, how did your parents handle quitting?

I remember wanting to quit different things because they were new or felt overwhelming. My dad would always say, "Think it through." Those words have guided me in a lot of ways because it slows me down, allowing me to make a conscious decision and not a rash choice.

Have your children expressed a desire to quit an activity or sport before? What was your response?

My son and husband enjoy golfing together. I remember when my son started trying to swing his mini-clubs around three years old. He would get frustrated and throw the club down. My husband and I would talk to him about trying again with a different approach. Basically we taught him to "regroup and reset" and not just give up.

At what point do you feel it's ok to let your kids quit?

I think it is important to fully understand the situation and why the child wants to quit. What will he or she want to achieve by quitting? Are they quitting because the schedule is too overwhelming and they need relief? I would gather as much information as possible so we come to the best decision for our child. In the end, the things we see through can teach us the best life lessons.

There are some who believe that not letting your child quit an activity is a learning experience in and of itself. Do you agree or disagree?

I do believe in some situations that seeing something through to the end will teach valuable life lessons. I don't believe in pushing so much that my child will be emotionally distraught over an activity or a crammed activity schedule. I would love my children to learn, enjoy and take away positive experiences from the activities they join.

What lessons, if any, have your family learned from quitting (or not quitting)?

Both quitting and not quitting have taught me lessons over the years. Whether it was the drama of quitting something or resetting things to make it work, feeling that I could communicate with my parents played a major role in the decisions I made in the end.

The difference between then and today is the pace of life. We are so fast-paced with compacted schedules that we don't take the time to slow down and enjoy the things we are involved in, even when it comes to our children's activities. Less can mean much more when it comes to the activities our children participate in each year. Slow down as parents so they can enjoy the childhood years and the wonderful activities they do.

Stephanie Lema started blogging a few years ago because she wanted something more than just being a working mom; she needed a creative outlet. Her blog, Be Positive Mom, enabled her to write about the challenges of career and motherhood. It has also been a tribute to her sister Stacy, who passed away from Ovarian Cancer in 2007. You can find Stephanie on Facebook and Twitter.

For more advice on how to handle discussions about quitting, visit the Care.com Interview Series: When Is It OK for Your Child to Quit? »

Photo used with permission from Stephanie Lema.

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