Do We Over-Schedule Our Kids?

Taking an Extra-Curricular Break

I don't know about you, but whenever a school break comes around, I'm as excited as my kids. For me, the school break signifies a break from all other extracurricular activities. At least for a week or two anyway.

My schedule doesn't even compare to those whose kids are involved in competitive dance or a hockey league which demands hours of everyone's time. Multiply that by two or three children and the running around can leave you feeling ragged.

This lifestyle, it appears, is considered normal by most. It's just part of the whole parenting package, exhausted parents report.

It's true that being involved in extracurricular activities can be extremely beneficial, possibly  even leading a child down a path towards a career. However, I try to remember how important it is not to jump on the band wagon just because you think that's what “good” parents are supposed to do.

I've always encouraged parents, and tried to follow my own good advice, to not enroll their children in more than two extracurricular activities per week. Religious school may be a third, depending on the family's inclination and the age of the child.

Children, like adults, can feel overwhelmed from always being on the run. A sandwich for dinner in the car three nights a week is not ideal. As well, by occupying our children every waking moment, we don't teach them the value of enjoying their own company during quiet moments.

So, next calendar year maybe think about what you want for your child, for yourself and for your family. Instead of piano or dance being that extracurricular activity, make family night the activity instead.

It may sound old fashioned, but reconnecting once or twice a week, instead of passing each other like ships in the night, can make all the difference.

Sara Dimerman is registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario and provides counselling to individuals, couples and families. She is the author of two parenting books: Am I A Normal Parent? and Character Is the Key and is one of North America’s leading parenting experts.

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