As a parent I want to provide the best life I can for my children. Obviously I strive to make sure my home is a loving one. I make an effort to feed my kids wholesome nutritious meals most days (whether or not they choose to eat those meals is a post for another day). And I try to give my girls experiences I think they will love. But, I often wonder, are the activities too much? In my attempt to enrich my daughters’ lives, am I actually adding stress and unhappiness to it?
Now, I’m not saying activities are bad. I was in dance from 1st-12th grade, took piano lessons and was also involved in marching band. I believe giving kids different experiences is important, but I also think we need to make sure that we are still allowing our children to have a childhood. Sure I danced, but I also remember running around outside with neighborhood kids, making up our own intricate games. I remember spending time with my family just having fun together. I never felt like I was over booked.
Today it seems that free time for children is fleeting. Is it just me or are there way more activities to schedule our young children in these days? Sports, dance, music, language lessons, coding classes, the list goes on and on. Like I said earlier, I think enriching our kids is great, but, I’ve got to wonder, why do we feel the need to enroll our kids in so much at a young age? Is it to give our kids enriching experiences? Maybe as a child money was tight, so you want to give your kids things you weren’t able to have. Or perhaps it’s the competitive society we seem to live in. Wanting to give our children a “leg up”. Whatever the reason I think we can all agree we don’t want our kids stressed and unhappy. Trying to figure how many activities to enroll my daughters in has been tough, but these are some pointers I try to keep in mind.
1. Pay attention to your child. Do they drag their feet when it’s time go to soccer practice? Do they seem mopey on dance night? That my be way of saying they aren’t interested in the activity. Talk to them about the activities they are enrolled in and make sure they actually want to be involved.
2. Be sure they have downtime. Think about it. How do you feel when you’ve been running around all week with no time to sit and relax? If you are anything like me, not pretty good. Kids are the same. They need time to relax. Time to play and use their imagination. Free play in younger children is in particularly important to their development.
3. Check your stress. Similar to number two, but if you are stressed out about getting your kids to all of their activities, then the kids are probably stressed too. If you don’t want to take them to an activity then perhaps there is too much on your plate. This is one of the reasons I have limited our activities to swim and dance. Adding a third activity would be way to stressful for me.
4. Be sure your child knows you love them no matter what. Often times our children will continue with an extra curricular activity because they don’t want to disappoint us. It is important that they know, if they don’t want to continue with an activity, they don’t have to.
In the end there really isn’t any hard or fast rule about whats right. It’s really all about what’s right for your child and for your family.
Do you have your child enrolled in extra curricular activities?