Kids Sports & Activities: When Is It Too Much?
Prior to having children, I swore I would not be a parent who overscheduled her children with sports, activities, and jam-packed days. I harbored the opinion that today’s youths are too busy and pushed into sports and activities by parents to the detriment of a more carefree childhood. Nope – not my future children. Boy, did I have it all wrong.
What I never considered in my narrow-minded opinion about kids sports and activities and the overscheduled child is that, just maybe, children were actually enjoying themselves and benefiting from these activities. For the past couple of years, Olivia (age 7) has taken a variety of classes – dance, soccer, gymnastics, art, music, acting, skiing. As she gets older, her interests have grown along with the time commitment for her favorite classes. What was a single combined ballet and tap class has become four dance classes per week. Her once-a-week soccer practice/game is now a practice, a game, and extra clinics. As we planned her fall activities, naturally, the guilt set in and I had to pause to think long and hard about the question – “When is it too much?”
As I pondered this question, I realized that there are a lot of good about her interest and enthusiasm for sports and activities.
First, I rationalized that her going to an after-school sport or enrichment class was not really that different from her regular schedule. With two working parents, she was already attending an after-school care program. This was simply another way for her to spend her after-school hours – and she was learning a skill.
Second, I realized that she actually loves to do these things. I often talk with her about her schedule letting her know that 1) homework must come first and 2) she can drop anything when it no longer feels fun or rewarding to her. It’s important that she feels ownership of her schedule as much as possible.
Third, I realized that there is an important social component to sports. Recently, I was speaking to another mom at dance and she mentioned that she loved all the time her daughter spent at the studio because, come middle school, it seemed like a safe and cooperative environment for her daughter. It was a great perspective. And the way Olivia’s soccer friends were congratulating and uplifting each other on the field at their last game – priceless.
It’s only been a couple of weeks of our new busy schedule. Although we’re still sorting through the finer details of how to juggle it all, it’s been going fairly well – for now. I accept that her sports and activities schedule will be something that needs continuous evaluation and “happiness” checks. In the meantime, we’re just going to have fun!
- E-family news: Children’s Schedule – Not Enough, Too Much or Just Right?
- Bright Horizons Online Community: Over-scheduled Kids?
- Read more posts about family routine and posts about sports from the Family Room bloggers