How much is too much?
I get that that headline is vague, and it could be in reference to plenty of things, food, drinks, TV. We have been told over and over too much of even a good thing is bad for you. Today however, I am talking about extracurricular activities for your children. As a parent of toddlers (6 & 4) we are at a point where we have started discussing getting our children into extracurricular activities.
Now first off, I will be honest, this article is probably going to be a stream of consciousness article where I just type out concerns, fear, thoughts I've been having as of late in regard to this. I am also probably not alone when it comes to the anxiety that parents feel in this area as well.
When I went back to my hometown for vacation recently, I was talking to my family members about just this. Some of my relatives have their kids in so many activities they are running around all day long from practices to tournaments to dance recitals, never seeming to stop from one activity to the next.
While other relatives refused to put their kids into anything over the summer due to not wanting the commitment it requires of the parents, and the inability to perhaps schedule a family vacation, or even just a "hey it's a nice day, who wants to go the/do (blank)"
And that's the parents, I'm more wondering about the kids themselves. At what point are we having our kids involved in so many activities it is harming them. As a parent we face all sorts of peer pressure (sadly I was mistaken to think that ended in high school) to make sure our children are not missing out or getting left behind. Social Media does no favors here when you see your friend group talking about all the activities their children are in.
But there must be a breaking point, right? I have heard from parents of older children who have had regrets of pushing their kids into too many things. Either from tears of exhaustion from the constant run around, or even burn out before they hit high school. Then there is the potential of injuries from the shift to "year-round training/specialization training". Plus, let us face it, what your child is interested in at age 6 is different week to week if not day to day.
None of what I have talked about is even including homework into the equation. Not to mention doctor visits, dentist exams, swim lessons, or the multitude of other ways that we need to help our children be healthy and happy. Nor have I included a two-job household where both parents need to find time to work around their work schedules. Plus, there is the cost aspect which can be a hurdle to overcome for families as well.
There must be a happy medium right? When I was younger, I was in one activity at a time. Baseball in the summer, cross country or football in the fall, basketball in the winter with track in the spring. That changed a bit when I realized the limitations of my athletic ability and saw that drama along with speech and debate were more my strong points in high school. It still was just one activity at a time however.
I want my kids to be more than couch potatoes and I want them in activities for the positives they bring, working in a group, leadership skills, following directions/coaching, confidence building from accomplishments, learning how to lose.
This however all brings me back to my headline, "how much is too much". Let us know in the comments your thoughts or what you found to work for your family.