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Breaking Down Kid’ Busy Schedules

child happyYou sit down on a Sunday night to review the week ahead:

  • Monday: Jake has soccer practice 3:30-6:30pm. Maddy has tennis 4:00-7:00pm.
  • Tuesday: Jake has soccer practice 3:30-6:30pm, then Honor’s Society meeting at 7pm. Maddy has drama club 3:30-5:00pm.
  • Wednesday: Jake has soccer practice 3:30-6:30pm. Maddy has voice lessons 4:00-5:00pm, then a play rehearsal at 6:00-9:00pm.
  • Thursday: Jake has soccer practice 3:30-6:30pm, then Honor’s society meeting at 7pm. Maddy has a group project meeting 3:30-4:00pm, tennis 4:00-6:00pm, then rehearsal from 6:30-8:00pm.
  • Friday: ….Where are the kids at?

This schedule is all too familiar to families of active kids. Driven by the need to keep up with the increasing demands on children today, many parents push their kids to be super-students: get amazing grades, be in the Honor’s society, and be involved in sports as well as the arts. Even though the lessons, rehearsals, and practices may seem like a good idea to prepare kids for college or the working world, it can lead to chaos.

As much as your kids may want to be involved in every sport and team, it’s better to help your kids create schedules that foster balance at an early age. Children who need to constantly be rehearsing or practicing may grow up to think that they should function that way in their personal and professional life, taking on too much and burning out quickly. This pattern teaches them that if they aren’t constantly doing something, they’re doing something wrong.

Children who are overly involved also risk losing out on precious time to just enjoy being a kid. If they are too involved in clubs, they will not have as much time to hang out with their friends outside of school. This may also disconnect them from friendships outside of their sports or club that may have otherwise flourished and become life-long.

Not only is a very busy schedule hard on kids—it’s hard on adults too. Parents’ lives get extremely hectic when they are attempting to manage multiple kids’ schedules on top of their own. Parents also tend to be the mode of transportation, helping shuffle each child place to place. Even though you may be spending time taking your children to practice, it isn’t quality time. Running from event to event will eventually take a toll on your relationship with your children.

As a parent myself, I know how hard it is to find this balance. When my kids were growing up, we struggled at times with them being overly involved in sports teams and other school activities. When I realized that we were losing out on time with them, I knew we needed to take a step back and choose only one activity to focus on. And I’m so glad we made that choice early on. I never wanted to say, “Wow, I missed out,” and thankfully, I didn’t have to. I can now look back at all the quality time we were able to spend together.

To make sure that your kids are finding the balance in their after-school schedules, prioritize. Choose which activities they really want to do and focus on those. This may mean that you have to make hard decisions, but what is more important: quality time or an extra lesson? By limiting your children’s activities to only one or two at a time, it will take the stress off, making them much more relieved in the long run.

Regardless of how busy your children are, it’s never too late to cut back. Don’t wait until your child turns 18 and realize that you have regrets. Parent with perspective, keeping the long term in mind, so that you can look back and know that you and your children were able to make wonderful, lasting memories together.

If you’re having a hard time finding a balance with your children’s activities, counselors at Stenzel clinical can help you create a healthier schedule. Contact us today.