Let's face it; we live in a busy world. Despite modern conveniences and advances in technology, it seems that today's families are busier than ever. We try to squeeze in as much as we can in a day under the assumption that the more we get done, the happier we'll be.
The reality, however, is that busyness can cause stress and health problems. Our bodies need to work but they also need time to rest. Being overscheduled can also keep us from forming and maintaining strong relationships. We can end up missing out on the enjoyment and fun of life.
If we don't have balance in our lives, we are not going to be as productive and satisfied with life as we could be. Unfortunately, we can also pass this down to our children. We are then left to wonder if our child is overscheduled.
Ask Your Child If They Are Overscheduled
There are some signs to look for in determining if your child is overscheduled. However, before even looking to the signs, the first thing a parent might want to do is ask their child if they feel they are taking on too much.
Too often parents are quick to make all the decisions about which activities their child will participate in. They may not ask for feedback, thoughts or opinions on the subject matter and just begin to schedule all these activities into their life.
Parents sometimes go by the rule that they are the adults and they should make the final decision. Although that is partly true, children have a right to voice their opinions as well. After all, they are the ones who have to endure the schedule of basketball on Monday, ballet on Tuesday, volunteer work on Wednesday, violin lessons on Thursday, play date on Friday and soccer on Saturday.
By talking to your child you may also discover that it has less to do with being overscheduled and more to do with participating in activities that they have no interest in. Perhaps your child doesn't mind keeping busy, as long as it includes activities that they actually care about.
Feedback from your child is important. Listening to their feelings and thoughts on the subject will teach them communication skills and hopefully will teach the parent listening skills.
Signs that Your Child Is Overscheduled
There are some signs that you can look for in trying to figure out if your child is overscheduled. Pay careful attention to these areas so that you can make a decision about what is best for your child.
Keep in mind that the "right" number of activities for each child will vary. It will depend on your child, their personality and interests, your family's lifestyle and any other number of factors. There is no one right way to balance things. It will be different for every family.
What Is Your Child's Attitude?
What kind of attitude does your child frequently display? Are they always on edge, grouchy and irritable? Does your child seem tired most of the time? These may be signs that your child is being overextended.
Of course at one time or another, children will display these attitudes and behaviors. The key is to note how often. If this is a frequent occurrence, then it just might be a sign that your child is overscheduled.
How Is Your Child Performing In School?
Consider how your child is performing in school. Are your child's grades slipping or does it seem like they are always falling behind? Do they seem to never have enough time to complete homework?
If your child is not doing well in school, then the focus should be placed on getting those grades back up. Doing homework on the go, in the car, during practice or wherever they can squeeze the time in is not very productive. Children need an adequate amount of time to sit down and do their homework.
If children are missing out on sleep because of being overscheduled, they may also be so tired at school that they are not able to pay attention. Talk to your child's teachers to find out if there are any classroom issues you should know about.
Is Your Child's Schedule Negatively Affecting the Family?
Children who are overscheduled are not the only ones affected. It usually affects the entire family. Families who are at odds with each other, constantly feeling stressed and drained are indications that things are out of balance.
Over scheduling one child is bad enough but when you have more than one child, the family can find themselves caught in a whirlwind of activity that sucks every ounce of energy and joy from within. If your family is not able to enjoy each other, then you might want to look at cutting out some activities from your children's routines.
Does Your Child Get Enough Downtime?
Downtime is important. Bodies need to work but they also need to rest. Without proper rest, they can begin to break down. If your child is constantly sick or complains of frequent headaches or stomach aches, they may be taking on too much.
Kids need time to just be kids. They need time to play, to rest and to socialize. If they never have time to just sit and do nothing, to hang out with friends or play at the park they are missing out on the joy of being a kid.
It's important that we don't try to make mini adults. Children only have a limited number of years to enjoy being a kid. The day will come soon enough when they will have the responsibilities that adults do. While they are young, let them enjoy it.
Is Your Child Overscheduled?
The signs are usually there. Sometimes parents will choose to ignore them. Parents can make the mistake of trying to live vicariously through their children. They want their children to do what they couldn't.
The problem is that the child may not be enjoying their overscheduled life at all and is waiting for you to finally pull the plug. They may also be afraid of disappointing you, so they don't say a word.
Take time to sit down and talk with your child. It won't take long to determine if your child is overscheduled.