Having a full life is great, but the potential for over-scheduling is a real concern. You probably lead a busy life yourself with work, family, and household chores. Keeping your child “busy” may seem like the best thing to do, but there can be too much of a good thing. You need down time, and so do your kiddos.
Over-Scheduling and Stress
Even though being in lots of activities is fun, it’s also stressful. Homework, dinnertime, and fun with the family are important, as well. If everyone is running around in different directions, there won’t be any downtime. And, when there isn’t any downtime, stress starts to bubble up and boil over. Parents and kids both feel this stress. When kids are asked to be on the go 24/7 they get exhausted and feel stress. This stress may even cause your kids to lose the motivation they once had for the activities they love.
Busy Family Scenario
On an average night, your family may not get home until well after 6 o’clock (or later!). Then you run around getting dinner ready and kids are headed off to do homework. By the time you’re finished with dinner, you barely have time to relax before going to bed. Then, the alarm goes off and you are up and at it again. This schedule, when repeated day in and day out, is hard on you, and it’s hard on your kids.
But, this is how it is all week since the kids are busy with school and you’re busy with work. The weekend’s coming so we can all just relax, right? Wrong. The weekend comes and you have chores and errands. The kids will probably have games and more activities to attend. You find yourself running all weekend just like you did all week. When is your downtime? From the looks of it, not very often.
Schedule Slow Time
You’re great at scheduling all your activities, right? Why not schedule in a bit of slow time for you and your kids, as well? Everyone needs to have a day off. You need time to clear your head and relax, and so does the rest of the family. Just because kids have all the energy in the world doesn’t mean they don’t need to slow down and relax. That high energy can fool parents into thinking their kids are always ready to go. It’s your job to give your child some downtime to relax, even when it doesn’t appear they need it.
You can let your child enjoy many extra-curricular activities throughout the year, but the key is to limit overlapping activities during each season. For example, your child can learn karate in the summer, soccer in the spring, and football in the fall. This way they stay active all year without the stress of trying to do everything all at once. Scatter a few short summer camps or weekend excursions carefully throughout the year, but for every activity make sure you schedule some good downtime in between. Your child needs unscheduled time, too – time to listen to music, doodle, play games, or just dream.
Whether your scheduled downtime includes a family game night, movie at home, or a picnic at the park, what’s important is that you and your kids learn it’s not only okay to relax, it’s part of your healthy and happy life!