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Your Kids: Are they Overscheduled?

As the fall season arrives, so do soccer games, football practice, dance class, and piano lessons.
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So many options for our kids and so little time!

My first grader is on a recreational soccer team for the first time this fall, with two practices a week and a game on Saturdays.  This will continue until the end of October.  There are days where we just don’t feel like getting back in the car after school.  Dinner needs to be prepped beforehand or eaten very early before practice begins.  It is a commitment and it takes work to make the schedule flow.  This comes with the territory when you participate in extracurricular activities.

I will say that he LOVES it.  I thought he had fun playing t-ball in the spring, but the joy on his face when he plays soccer is different.  He is having a great time.  Watching your child do something that he loves is a definite perk to being a parent and is worth the sacrifice.

That said, while watching practices and games, it appears that not every kid out there is loving it.  It got me thinking how difficult life would be if I had to drag him to practices and games every time.  If he dreaded going and I had to force him, that would be torture.  Who would that benefit?

When I see a parent dragging their child onto the field, I feel badly for the kid.  Was this her choice?  Does she love soccer and want to be there?  Her behavior lends me to believe that this may not be her passion.  As parents, do we feel pressured to push our kids into all of these activities?  Why is that?

As the season has progressed, it seems that many kids on the team are busy every night of the week.  This means they get home from school and within an hour or so, they are back in the car heading to whatever activity they have been signed up for.  I have to say that my little ones wouldn’t fare well with this arrangement.  After a long day at school, my son really just wants to come home and have some downtime.  Two days a week is enough for after school activities in our house.

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I think participating in sports and other activities is valuable.  Kids learn a lot from being on a team and relating to kids from other schools.  They also benefit from identifying with a hobby that they enjoy.  What happens, though, when those kids never have time to breathe?  It seems that they would never have the chance to really think about what THEY want to do.  That is a tragedy.

So, this fall, maybe our society needs to reevaluate where our kids spend their time.  Is it necessary that a six year old plays the guitar, participates in competitive soccer, and speaks Mandarin?  I’m not sure.

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How many activities is too many?

What I do know is that kids need time to be themselves in an unstructured environment once in a while.  In the rush of life, adults forget that their children really need quality time with mom or dad.  It really is that simple.

What do you think?  How many activities are your kids participating in this year?  How do you manage your family schedule?


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