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How Much Is Too Much?

Are you in a never-ending game of Beat-the-Clock? Does your to-do list go on and on, and you rush through your days checking off item by item in a race to finish the day "DONE", just to start again in the morning? It's exhausting and overwhelming.

In the same way, we schedule our kids to within minutes of bedtime., we schedule our kids to within minutes of bedtime. School, homework, sports, tutoring, martial arts, extended day, enrichment activities. We don't want them to miss out on anything. We want to give our kids every advantage possible. We don't want them to miss out on anything.

The desire to want to mold and shape our kids is undeniable. They are accomplished - proof to ourselves and others that we are "good" parents who will give their kids anything and everything. We feel good when our kids participate in activities. They are productive. We're exposing them to different skills and enhancing their abilities. So, what's the harm? It's just as easy for them to get caught up in the rat race, being led from activity to activity. But they have their own unique identities. And, although that potential for greatness lies within them, it needs to develop slowly, not with a to-do list that overwhelms and causes anxiety. When overscheduled, you run the risk of sidetracking their natural development. They need time to lie around, use their imagination on their own terms, play for the sake of play (with no goal in mind). There's absolutely nothing wrong with enrichment activities as long as they are balanced with downtime. How many activities depends largely on the age and temperament of your child.

Some signs that your child is overscheduled:

  • S/he is overly moody (swings from one emotion to another with no apparent cause.

  • More anxious (throws tantrums, develops nervous tics, cries easily)

  • You can't remember the last time you had a meal together as a family.

  • Your child becomes clingy, sullen, obstinant.

  • Your whole family is exhausted.

  • Your child has a different activity scheduled every day - you've gone over the limit - no matter the age or the child.

The solution is to take some time to let them kick back. Have a "stay-in-your-pajamas all day" day, a "do nothing" day a whatever you want to call it day. And do it on a regular basis (schedule it in, if you have to). The world won't end. Your child will not lose out. They'll actually pick up some really good life skills. Try it out and let me know how it goes. You might actually like it!

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