We will be discussing and highlighting all kinds of activities here on dsm4kids and we want to understand where the line between taking advantage of these opportunities is and being over-scheduled is.
Even though a lot of activities are beneficial, how do we decide how many are right for our kids and family? And, how do we manage to cut back activities when we run up against overenthusiastic coaches and instructors and kids who want to keep up with their friends?
Ultimately, activities should be chosen with a child’s age, personality, interests, and talents in mind. Apply the “Goldilocks Rule”, nothing too hard or too easy. And, keep in mind, when kids do something only to please their parents, it diminishes the benefits of the activity.
Some tips to keep your kids and family from becoming too over-scheduled:
Know your limits. For example, each child can participate in no more than three activities at a time or three evenings a week. Kids also need downtime and free time.
Know the time commitment. For example, how much practice is required for music lessons? In addition to weekly scout meetings, are there weekend commitments? Know what you’re signing up for.
Keep a family calendar to stay organized. Whether it’s an old-fashioned wall calendar or a digital calendar make sure that everybody in the family can stay up-to-date. It shouldn’t fall to one person to keep track of every family member’s schedule.
Try to carpool with other parents. When scheduling activities, check with your kids’ friends and neighbors to see if you can schedule activities at the same time and then set up a car pool schedule. It will make all families’ lives easier.
Carve out family time. Eating dinner together as a family is important. Family fun time, is also important, whether it’s playing a board game or going on a bike ride. If you have a blank spot on the calendar mark in “family time” and make a rule that no one can schedule anything else.
Set priorities. School and family should come first. If kids are having a hard time keeping up academically, they may need to drop an activity.
Know when enough is enough. If your child wants to add another activity they may need to consider dropping a current activity in exchange for the new one.
Take a moment and think about your child’s schedule. If it’s hectic, figure out where you can cut back. Make time to slow down and enjoy the gift of family and never forget how important it is for kids to have downtime to just be kids.
Your thoughts, how many extra-curricular activities is too many?