We went on a baseball “strike” this summer.

When our oldest son was 4, my husband and I couldn’t wait for the umpire to yell, “Play Ball!”

We got an early start on signing him up for his first sport and then every sport after that – baseball, soccer, basketball, flag football, tennis, swim lessons. We couldn’t wait to see him perform.

Now, after 10 summers of watching him play baseball and a few summers of watching all three of our children play baseball or softball every night of June, we decided to take back our summer and send baseball to the dugout.

My 15-year-old son chose to be a fan of baseball from the stands this summer instead of spending nearly every weeknight and weekend playing Legion baseball. Our middle son wasn’t interested in the game because it doesn’t have enough action for him, and we didn’t even mention the softball registration to our youngest daughter.

We are a sports-loving family, and no doubt sports have such a great influence on kids in so many ways. They learn teamwork, build self-confidence, exercise their bodies and most importantly – sports keep kids busy enough to stay out of trouble.

However, family time can also have a great influence. And summer is the best time for family time.

Sure, we missed the fun baseball road trips and hot, buttery concession stand popcorn.

But, we traded parents yelling swear words at umpires for peaceful family bike rides (mainly peaceful, except for a few sibling squabbles).

We upgraded from sitting on benches around a baseball field to sitting in lawn chairs by the campfire roasting marshmallows.

Instead of spending a weekend in the hot sun or the cold wind watching tournaments, we went camping. We started new family traditions like the pizza cruise and the Sonic bike ride.

Sitting around the campfire or cruising in the boat, we enjoyed food and conversation free from distraction and baseball drama.

I learned all about my middle son’s friends when he became an open book as we cruised around the lake. My teen-aged son danced around the campfire like he was three again and told us about his hopes and dreams. My daughter loved the time she raced with her brother in the pool instead of watching him throw a ball from the stands.

I’m not trying to bash baseball, because we also have lots of great baseball memories from years past. There’s something about sitting watching a game at dusk on a still summer night. But, sometimes it’s nice to take a seventh-inning stretch and have a little time to breathe.

We will dust off our bleacher seats once again come fall to cheer our kids in football, volleyball and running. And, future summers may contain baseball again. But, I’ll never regret our baseball strike of 2015.

Thanks for the memories baseball “strike!”

Kristine Jacobson

Kristine Jacobson is a writer, a mother of three children and farm wife living in South-Central Nebraska. She puts her creative skills to use as editor of Nebraska Family Magazine at www.nebraskafamilymagazine.com and helps non-profits and small businesses share their stories in her public relations business, KRJPR.