By Overscheduling Our Kids, We Took The Fun Out Of Their Childhood

overscheduling kids
Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

Does anyone else feel as if they need to take a deep cleansing breath before looking at your family’s calendar? It’s almost as if I need to prep myself for the upcoming day, week, or month ahead. September and the beginning of October, I basically live in the car after school and on the fields (court)on the weekends.

With our schedule so jammed packed, can you believe my kids only play one sport each?

This past summer, after an exhilarating swim team season, my oldest told me she wanted to do year round competitive swimming. As we began to look into this, it seemed as if we were headed into a huge commitment. On top of it, she also wanted to continue playing volleyball. I took her to the tryouts and she was all gung ho.

Woo hoo *note the sarcasm

Having A Full Calendar Doesn’t Equal A Full Life

I want my kids to engage in whatever activities they choose, so I pulled up my bootstraps, saddled in and prepare myself to accomplish an organizational feat so large even an event planner would shutter.

My colored pens arrived on the scene and began the task of filling in the activities for fall. Pink, my daughter’s color, took over our calendar and off we went. Then she hit me with a huge bomb after volleyball practice one night as we were driving home*.

*FYI- this is the best time to have deep conversations with your kids. They don’t have to look you in the eye and they have your undivided attention. 

She tells me something that allowed me to breathe a whole lot easier. “Mom, I don’t want to do swim team during the school year.”

Hallelujah!

Then she spoke these insightful words I will never forget: I want to make sure I have time to play with my friends.

Done and done. We hadn’t signed up yet so there was no love (or money) lost there. I immediately took a white out pen to my board and went to work.

Kids Are Extremely Insightful

This realization of being too busy coming from my 10 year old let me enforce a one sport/activity rule at a time. Oddly enough, not long after she had her epiphany about too many activities, she was planning her winter sport schedule.

Guess what? She wanted to do both basketball and ice skating lessons which I quickly put the Kibosh on, reminding her of her wise words. While I want them to be involved in an extracurricular, I don’t want it to be their main focus. They should be able to come home and play, be kids and spend time with the family instead of constantly being on the go.

By narrowing down our activity level, it has allowed me to slow down as well. I can breathe easier knowing that we don’t have to rush around from one activity to another. Even still, with four kids, many times we have to divide and conquer on practice nights and game days.

Living Your Dreams Vicariously Through Your Kid

I envision a life where my children are happy and stress free, not one where they are tied to a calendar. One where they feel comfortable saying no and not feel guilty about not participating in something. The way I look at it, sure I could push them harder, practice more at home and make them the best. But would that result in making them actually good or would they resent me?

I rarely watch practices (that’s another story for another time) but one time when my daughter asked me to stay and watch, she asked how she did. I told her truth. If she wants to get better than she needs to stop messing around during practice and focus on the ball. To which she most bluntly replied back, “Mom, I’m here to have fun.”

Well that hit me like a ton of bricks cause she nailed it. As a group, we are focus on the scholarships, the success and what other people think. We have forgotten the point of the game is learn a skill, play and most importantly to have fun.

When it becomes more about staying on schedule to make our children perform better by being overscheduled, then it’s time to look at your priorities. Is playing on the travel baseball team your dream or theirs? I bet if you asked them they would choose play over sitting in the car for 3 hours to play one game of ball.

Yes, we all want what is best for our children. By slowing down and letting go of our vision of their success, we can let them be kids. We can allow them to explore who they are, make mistakes, have less stress and again have fun!


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