I’m certainly not going to be the first person to point out that many children these days are overscheduled with lessons, sports and other activities. The choices are countless, and deciding between boy scouts, swimming, soccer, piano, dance, tuba, judo and skating can be tricky. Parents feel pressured to give their children every possible advantage they can afford. Waiting after school, you can often hear parental social secretaries attempting to book play dates between soccer games and dance rehearsals.
If you’re not one of these people, you’re definitely going to start questioning whether your child is missing out on important opportunities. (Oh, I have been down that road.)
Ok, so what is the problem with too many activities?
- Too many activities leads to more stress, more rushing around and more driving
- More activities mean less time spent together as a family
- Too much pressure on children from a young age is not healthy, and can create anxiety and depression
- Kids may not be able to spend adequate time on school work
- Time spent in gyms, classrooms or mowed fields is not time spent in nature (Why is that important? Read this link)
Talk about a First World problem! All those poor overprivileged children!
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s great to give children opportunities to try different things and pursue their passions. Participation in activities or sports can teach important life skills in things like discipline, patience or team work, as well as whatever specific skills they are learning.
The truth is, kids also need time to themselves.
Why give kids unstructured time?
- It promotes creativity.
- It promotes independence.
- It allows children to explore the world on their terms, without being told what to do or how to think.
- Children need time to relax, just as we do.
- “Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers
So, what is too much? Too little? We are left to define this balance independently. I decided to forget about what my social circles were doing, and do what was right for my family.
– If your family is eating more meals in a car than at a table, you might be overscheduled.
– If your preschooler is harder to book than One Direction, you might be overscheduled.
– If your equipment budget is higher than your mortgage payments, you might be overscheduled.
The funny thing is, changing this perspective actually means LESS work for parents. How many important things can you do for your kids that actually require LESS work?
Or maybe I’m just lazy. 😉
How does your family find balance?