Overscheduled Kids: When is it too much?
Reportedly, Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I had 60 minutes to cut down a tree, I would spend 40 minutes sharpening the ax and 20 minutes cutting it down.” President Lincoln knew you have to take time to make time.
Whether you have one child or several, their activities can take up a lot of time and leave the evenings and weekends stretched very thin. While sports are the most popular activity with kids, there are many other options for children, such as, foreign language, music, art, scouts, charity work, religious studies, gymnastics, dance, martial arts, etc…and this leaves little time for school work. So how do you fit it all in?
Prioritizing your children’s school year is the first step towards time management and preventing overscheduled kids. While it is important to get your child’s input, it is also good to keep in mind they are thinking with the mind of a child, while you have the wisdom as an adult. You wouldn’t let your child pick your car, but your child probably had an opinion on which car you bought. So, it is useful to have your own personal priorities already noted before you begin a discussion with your child.
Areas to consider in choosing your child’s activities:
- What is your child passionate about? There is a problem today with many kids lacking passion and motivation. Sometimes it takes an adult to encourage a child to explore different areas so that they may find an activity that lights a fire under them.
- What is your child good at doing? You want to choose activities your child will be moderately successful with to avoid diminishing their self-esteem.
- What is your child’s personality? In some cases, it is good not to push a sport on your child just because you played that sport in school. Would they be more successful in a team or individual sport?
- Keeping your own tolerance level in mind, how many children’s activities can you handle without over-functioning? How do you know when you are over-functioning or have overscheduled? Two clues are flaky behavior and cranky behavior.
- For example, if you are forgetting to pick up your child at an event and often leave your phone at home, and find you are always running late, you probably have too much on your plate.
- Or if you become hysterical when you come home from picking up your child at practice because you realize your husband forgot to pick up milk like you had asked …you probably have too much on your plate.
- Unfortunately many parents, especially moms, compare themselves to their friends and other parents. However, just like kids, parents have different personalities and different areas where they thrive. One parent may have four kids and each kid in four activities and function fine, whereas another parent may have two kids and be overwhelmed with their few activities and feel overscheduled. Know yourself, without being too hard on yourself.
- Once you decide how much you can handle and what your own personal priorities are for you and your family, it is time to sit down with your child and decide how to best plan a fun, successful year.