We know how hectic you feel when you have tense shoulders, short tempers, and pure exhaustion, especially when there’s zero downtime in your day. Children are the same. Sports, after-school activities, and social commitments – all of these things compete for your child’s energy and attention daily. Switching from one activity to another, or constantly guiding your child’s play, can actually hinder their development. We always end up shuttling our kids from T-ball to tumbling and from dance class to karate lessons just to help them to be well-rounded, discover their passions, have a competitive edge and make friends. For we definitely don’t want our kids to be left behind. But it’s said that the most important activity during a child’s early years is free to play. It is essential for your kids to become better at problem-solving, making decisions, and self-regulation. Not to mention that having time to simply play reduces stress and increases happiness. And now that kids are busy surfing most of their time on social media at increasingly younger ages, the pressure to participate has become immense.
All those images of friends playing sports and posing together in a gleeful gaggle can cause your child to feel like their schedule doesn’t quite measure up to others. But no matter what, instead of keeping your kids busy 24*7, it’s every parent’s job to make sure children don’t fall into the over-scheduling trap. After all, at this age, what they need is you and your time so that they don’t feel compelled to constantly do-do-do. But have you ever wondered what measures to take to avoid over-scheduling your kids? If not, we have curated a few major points which every parent needs to take care of. But before we directly jump to the solutions, let’s find out how to identify if you are overscheduling your kids!
Signs you are overscheduling your kids
How many activities are too much for your overscheduled toddlers?
- If children are losing interest in activities that they once used to enjoy, then one of the reasons might be because they are over-scheduled and stressed. Sometimes, it’s harder for kids to speak up about their needs for downtime – mostly because our kids want us to be happy. If your children have no interest in previous things they once used to enjoy, then dear parents, please pay attention. It’s high time that they need to cut back on some activities.
- Burnout isn’t the only sign a child is over-scheduled. If he doesn’t have time for a social life for an hour or two, it’s going to be more difficult for him to learn how just to be him. Do you know it’s actually good for kids to be bored once in a while or sit and watch the paint on the wall? Reason? This will lead your little ones to creative spurts and can also help recharge so that they can process whatever they have learned throughout the day.
- Another sign a child is overscheduled is an increase in the number of mood swings or in the frequency of grumpy moods and tantrums. Kids who don’t get enough time just to sit or have open-ended play are also likely to have difficulty while sleeping.
- A final sign they are over-scheduled is that they start showing poor performance in school. If a child doesn’t have regular downtime and time free from scheduled commitments, then burnout is a real threat.
Tips to avoid overscheduling your kids
Learning how to manage a balanced schedule that sets the free time for all life activities is an important skill to have. Also, at the same time, it’s very important to ensure that the schedule has time for downtime and time for self-care. Whether you are eager to get your child’s schedule right from the get-go or you’ve realized that it needs some tweaking, here are a few tips to achieve a healthy balanced life for your tiny tots.
- Prioritize their calendar.
Before you add another activity into their busy mix, pause, and consider what’s already on your kid’s schedule. It’s too natural to want to finish it all, but saying yes to everything will only exhaust them and will cut off their family time. If you can help them manage another addition, consider it. If you can’t, then it’s time to prioritize.
- Focus on enrichment.
Does the activity bring more joy and energy into your child’s life, or does it create conflicts and anxiety? Joining the competitive basketball league may sound fun, but if your child does not enjoy the intensity level, then maybe the local intramural league is a better fit. Don’t assume the most expensive or competitive choice is always the best fit for your child’s needs. Sometimes less proves to be more.
- Shrug off kiddie competition.
The pressure to conform is ever-present in childhood. The kids next door participate in more activities than your kids? So what! If you make this a habit, kids will often compare their experiences with other kids and develop an inferiority complex. How many times have you heard that their parents let them do this or that? Strong, secure parents can hear this without giving in to pressure. “They do? That’s nice.
- Encourage personal development.
Kids need hobbies, just like adults. Private or personal activities that don’t have to be shared with others can be soothing, pleasurable, and often teach kids to become more self-directed. If your child loves to bake, knit, build models, or peer at the stars, support those interests, buy them all the ingredients, pretty yarn, three types of glue, or the slightly better telescope. By doing this, you are saying to them: ‘I see you, and I support the person you are becoming.’ After all, who doesn’t want to be praised and recognized? Everyone does! And so are your kids. This way you can help them overcome overscheduling and stress
- Watch for signals of overdoing.
Is your child happily content or often tired and irritable? Do you have a mutual admiration society at home, or are family members always sniping at each other? Is everyone sleeping well at night, or is exhaustion the norm? Are you in charge of the schedule, or do stress and pressure run the show? Whatever it is, please remember that your tots deserve to feel calm and content. So, don’t you think the way you take charge of how you spend your time and your children matters a lot?
As parents, we all need to take a step back and reassess what is becoming normal and the expectations we are inheriting. Are you overscheduling your kids because you think it will benefit their lives and their future? Or are you jumping on the bandwagon, trying to fit in with the other moms? Take a look at your motives behind before giving your kids multiple activities and sports. You need to ask your child if that’s what they really feel like doing. Chances are, with their free time, they will play games, draw pictures, pretend, have tea parties, play computer games, plan adventures, and actually play with their toys. More than anything, your kids need you. And kids need time to be kids. So, how do your tots choose to spend their free time? Please do share with us your story! We would love to hear from you!