When You Can’t Do It All: How to Avoid Overscheduling Your Kids
Is your child racing from soccer to gymnastics to piano lessons? Learn how to stop the madness and choose the right extracurricular activities for your child.
Engage Your Child: Ask your child what sorts of activities she is interested in. Review the activities that you see as non-negotiable and explain why you feel these activities are important. Allow your child the opportunity to brainstorm a list of activities she’d like to do in addition to the non-negotiable activities. Young children often don’t know their limits, and you’ll need to remind your child that she cannot do it all. If your child creates a long list of activities, ask her to choose one or two she’d most enjoy. See if her list matches your own. If not, share some of your ideas to engage her interest.
Limit Activities: Look critically at your weekly schedule and evaluate how much time you and your child really have to participate in after-school activities. Assess your child’s tolerance for a variety of activities and limit your choices so that the schedule is manageable for everyone. Remember to think about yourself. An overscheduled child can often be shadowed by a stressed out, overscheduled parent. Take into account the amount of driving and coordination that is necessary to make the activities you choose a success.
Be Intentional: Be sure to intentionally schedule free or unstructured time. Free time lets your child unwind after a busy school day and allows you to experience fun and spontaneous moments with your child. Scheduling unstructured time can also give your child the chance to nurture her creativity and imagination.
Be Vigilant: Consistently assess whether or not your child is becoming overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious about her schedule. Signs of being overscheduled include trouble sleeping, changes in school performance, or changes in behavior. Engage your child in open conversation, gauging how she feels about her schedule. Be flexible and willing to discontinue certain activities or allow for a day off if necessary.
Trust your intuition and remember that you are the expert when it comes to your child. It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of extracurricular activities, so take time to slow down. If you recognize your intentions and carefully evaluate the motivation behind your choices, your child will undoubtedly have a very successful and well-balanced extracurricular life.
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