When Lucy was 10 years old she loved swimming, dancing, and being a Girl Scout. Upon her daughter’s request, Lucy’s mother signed her up for the swim team, ballet, church youth group, and Girl Scouts. Within weeks, Lucy’s parents discussed how busy their lives were becoming due to Lucy’s schedule, but Lucy insisted that she wanted to keep participating in every extracurricular activity.
Three mornings a week, before school started, Lucy had swim practice. One evening a week she had youth group and Girl Scouts and two evenings a week she attended ballet classes. Most evenings, Lucy didn’t get home until 7 pm and she often did homework and ate dinner in the car. On the weekends, Lucy often had swim meets or activities at church. After six months of a full schedule, Lucy began to complain that she felt tired and she started to worry about things she never worried about before. Additionally, she started to complain that her stomach hurt in the mornings and she didn’t want to be on the swim team anymore. After visiting her pediatrician, Lucy’s parents decided that Lucy needed to pick at least one activity to give up. After she chose to stop swimming and only do ballet one night a week, she returned to her “old self”.
Is Your Child’s Schedule Too Full?
As a parent there’s lots of pressure to make sure that your child is involved in extracurricular activities. Not only will his or her participation in sports, art, and volunteering look good on a college application, but extra curricular activities are supposed to help children stay active, learn to be social, and stay away from trouble or boredom.
However a good question to ask is, can there be too much of a seemingly good thing? Before you answer that, think about your child’s extracurricular activities. Is he or she signed up for various activities because he or she wants to or because you want him or her to have a busy and “enriching” schedule? If your child is busy because of you, you may want to reexamine the purpose or intentions and see how your child really feels.
If your child has a busy schedule full of after school activities, there’s a good chance that he or she could end up feeling burned out. Here are some signs that your child may be too busy:
Feeling Tired, Anxious, or Unhappy
If your child is physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy, he or she should not be tired, anxious, or unhappy on a regular basis. While every kid has a bad day every now and again or he or she complains of being tired a few times a month, it’s important to monitor these complaints or signs to see if they become more frequent and if they are, it’s time to consider some changes in your child’s schedule.
No Schedule for Free Time
If you begin to notice that your child rarely has time to do absolutely nothing, then it’s time to rearrange his or her schedule. Keep in mind, it’s okay for kids to be kids and do fun things without a goal or a purpose. Has he or she stopped having playdates? Does he or she have no time to care for the family pet or keep up on household chores or homework? Are his or her grades dropping or does he or she show general disinterest in things that he or she used to love? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it’s time to free up your child’s schedule and let him or her enjoy childhood a little bit more.