Families are busier than ever, and that includes our children. Between a full school schedule during the day and all the extracurricular activities after school, when does your child have time for some down time? It’s important that children have interests outside of school, but how much is too much?
Having a busy life is great, but the potential for over-scheduling is a real concern. You lead a very busy life yourself with work, family, and household chores. Keeping your children busy may seem like the best thing to do, but maybe it can be too much of a good thing. You need relaxation time, and so do your children.
Over-Scheduling and Stress
Participating in tons of activities is fun, but it can also be stressful. And remember, homework, dinnertime, and fun with the family are all important, as well. If everyone is running in different directions, there won’t be any downtime. And, when there isn’t any downtime, stress starts to bubble up and boil over. Parents and kids both feel stress. When children are asked to be on the go 24/7, they feel exhausted and stressed. This may even cause your kids to lose the motivation they once had for the activities they love.
Busy Family Schedules
On an average night, your family may not get home until well after 5 or 6 o’clock. Then you run around getting dinner ready and the kids are headed off to do their homework. By the time you’re finished with dinner, you barely have time to relax before going to bed. Then, the alarm goes off and you are up and at it again. This crazy schedule, repeated day after day, is hard on you, and it’s certainly hard on your children.
Whether your children go to public school, private school, or are home schooled, they are busy with their schoolwork and activities and you’re busy with your work, week in and week out. But the weekend is coming, so you will all relax then, right? Wrong. The weekend produces more chores and errands. Your children may even have more games and more activities to attend. You find yourself running all weekend just like you did all week. When is your downtime going to happen? From the looks of it, not any time soon.
Scheduling Slow Down Time
You’re great at scheduling all your activities, so why not schedule in a bit of slow time for you and your kids, as well? You need time to clear your head and relax, and so does the rest of your family. Just because kids have all the energy in the world doesn’t mean they don’t need to slow down and relax. That high energy can fool parents into thinking their kids are always ready to go. It’s your job to give your child some downtime to relax, even when it doesn’t appear they need it.
It’s great to let your children enjoy extra-curricular activities throughout the year, but the key is to limit overlapping activities during each season. For example, your child can learn:
• karate in the summer
• soccer in the spring
• and football in the fall
There are so many good activities from which to choose. The key is to choose not just what’s good, but what’s best for your family. This way your child stays active all year without the stress of trying to do everything all at once.
Scatter a few sports events and some camping trips or weekend excursions with the family carefully throughout the year, but for every activity make sure you schedule some good downtime in between. Your child needs unscheduled time, too – time to pick wildflowers, build a snowman, listen to music, doodle, play games, play the piano or just dream, and you also need unscheduled time together as a family.
Whether your scheduled downtime includes a movie or game night or a picnic in the park, what’s important is that you and your children learn it’s not only okay to relax, it’s part of growing a healthy and happy family life!
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