“Soccer on Mondays. Swimming on Tuesdays. Violin on Wednesdays. Thursdays is tap. She takes a little break on Fridays. And then she has gymnastics on Saturdays.” I listened in amazement as another mom rattled off her daughter’s extracurricular activities. I was tired just listening to her. Her poor daughter was only in first grade. I bet that child is tired and stressed out!
We all know that extracurricular activities are good for children. But I think some parents really overdo it with their children’s schedules. Since I was a child, I’ve always been overly involved in activities. As a teen my afterschool schedule was jam-packed, and in college I was involved in way too many clubs. Even today, I struggle not to volunteer for all the church committees, the PTA and my women’s clubs. When I became a mom, I swore that I would not push my tendency to get over involved on my child. I’ve experienced first-hand how stressful it can be to do too much.
If you’re like me, you may wonder how to help your children find a balance between enough extracurricular activities to keep them well-rounded and not so many that they experience kiddie burnout. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up from my past experience as an overactive kid:
School first, activities second. Always remember that your child’s school schedule comes first. That means that they can’t have so many activities after school that they are exhausted during school. I try to schedule my daughter’s activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays because they tend to be light homework days.
Focus on what your child likes. Some parents focus on what they want their children to be involved in. Then they enroll them in the activity hoping to produce the next Gabby Douglass or Justin Bieber. My approach is a little different. I’ve studied my daughter to see what she likes, and that’s what I get her involved in. If she has no interest in the activity, she doesn’t do it. My goal is simply to keep her little mind stimulated. If she happens to develop a talent in the area, even better. But there’s no pressure.
Work those weekends. Whenever possible, I schedule my daughter’s activities on a Saturday. That way she doesn’t have the stress of doing activities after school and still completing homework. And I prefer her to be active on weekends instead of just watching TV.
Value free play. When I decide on my daughter’s extracurricular schedule, I make sure that it allows time for just having fun. Let’s face it, kids love to play. And it’s through playing that kids learn the importance of downtime (and don’t end up stressed out like their parents!).
Go ahead and get your kids involved, but help them find a balance. Remember, children get stressed and tired too!
How many activities are your kids involved in? How do you help them balance it all?
Words: Yolanda Darville
Yolanda Darville is a mom, writer, and blogger focusing on philanthropy and empowering women. Learn more about her on her blog www.bahamamommyinc.com.