After school activities provide a wonderful medium for exposing children to a variety of activities they may otherwise not have an opportunity to take part in. Schools have been facing budget cuts for years, and school have been forced to cut musical programs, athletic programs as well as many other clubs and groups. Parents have now taken the responsibility of providing their children with a myriad of choices that will enhance their life experiences, and hopefully give them an edge on their college applications.
Some families have taken after school activities to the extreme. Many children are now scheduled from the minute they wake up in the morning to the minute they go to bed. Families try to fit in gymnastics, piano and other activities BEFORE school so that after school there is time for soccer, football or orchestra. These demanding schedules take a toll on the children and the parents.
Before scheduling activities for your children, it is important to sit down as a family and decide what works. Make sure the children know what kind of time commitment and practice are required of them, and make sure your children are aware of what kind of time it will take for you to shuttle them around and make sure they are where they are supposed to be. Every activity has different requirements and schedules. When signing up for more than one activity, make sure that the schedules are compatible and that the practices won’t overlap.
Once everyone is in agreement about what activities to take part in, you need to be able to objectively ask, how much is too much. The easiest way to determine whether you have overscheduled is to take a step back, look at everything that is going on and ask are we having fun yet? When you have so much going on that you don’t have time to think about what you are doing and enjoy it, it becomes very difficult to want to continue in the activity. Parents don’t want to haul cranky children from place to place, fighting every step of the way because they have one more thing on the list to do.
As you plan your activities, make sure you schedule in time for each other. One of the major things we are lacking in our schedules today is time for one another. Regardless of the activities that have been have undertaken, if you aren’t enjoying them you really need to ask yourself whether or not they are worth participating in. One of the best activities to ensure that your children are well rounded individuals, is family time.