Have you ever sat down with your calendar and mapped out all of the activities your children are involved in? For some, it’s like planning a full scale invasion as you look for ways to bend the family schedule around the activities.
It begs the question, how much is too much? Is there such a thing as too little? Where, if anywhere, is the median, and why should we care?
Exhaustion: This is one of the three reasons that taming the activities is so important. Let’s face it, kids have a lot of stamina, but it does have a finite limit. If your child is so busy after school that it’s difficult to get to bed at a sensible time on a regular basis, he or she is doing too much.
Studies indicate that adequate sleep is as important to your child’s health as exercise and proper diet. Sleep deprivation does a number on the immune system, putting your child at risk for whatever bug is going around. It also makes children have difficulty concentrating which can be a problem at school.
Homework: Can’t fit it in? Not having the time to prepare for the next day’s classes can lead to lower grades. This is another sign that there are too many activities and not enough day for all of them.
Burnout: If you get tired of all the pressure placed on you, you can bet your kids do as well. Choose one or two things at a time for your child to concentrate on, and then if necessary, change them around. Perhaps the keenest interest is a sport and learning to play a musical instrument. Sports have seasons, so having a change of sport can help prevent burnout.
Compulsive Problems: Many activities trigger the release of endorphins. This can be addicting. The mind can also develop a need to perform some exercises, along the lines of an obsessive/compulsive disorder. If your child develops this problem, you will need to consult some experts to change the habits.
What about not enough outside activities?
How you term outside activities may be part of the answer. As a teenager, I lived on a farm and believe me, I had outside activities. Not all of them were fun, but they were there. They’re called chores.
That’s not all we did, we were in various organizations within both church and school. This allowed us to have social interaction with people our age, and that’s important.
Children are social, and some activities are needed. This is even more true if there are few other chances to get some exercise. Combining the two needs can be an excellent means of providing your child’s needs.
If your child seems withdrawn, spends a lot of time alone or on the computer, it’s time to find something outside of school to help him or her learn how to function around other people. There are many to choose from, both religious and secular. Talk to your child to find out what they find interesting.
Extracurricular activities are important to our kids, but we have to be very careful. More than one activity per day is probably too much, so sit down with the kids and choose those that are most important to them.