After school activities are important for your children to be involved in. It teaches them responsibility, team effort, communication skills, and it just all around helps them to become a more social being. The problem for parents arises when their child wants to be involved in more than one. How do you decide as a parent how many activities you will allow them to be involved in?
This question becomes more important the more kids you have, because as the parent you are the one running them to and from the activities. You can only do so much; you time is limited and thus you need to take this into consideration when your kids do sign up for after school activities, clubs, music lessons or community sports.
Many parents are under the false impression that the more activities their children are involved in the better they will do later in life. According to several research studies this is not necessarily the case. What just might be the case is that having your child enrolled in too many extracurricular activities may be detrimental not only to the child, but to the parents’ health as well as the family budget.
You need to think about the whole activities question before it arises so that you will be prepared to deal with it. So how do you know if your child is over scheduled? You would think that just asking them would be sufficient. The problem is that many kids are afraid to speak up because they see what overachievers their parents are and they think they need to be the same way. Below are some signs you should be looking for to determine if your child is “overbooked.”
Your Child is Always Tired
It is a sure bet if your child is falling asleep in the car on the way home from some or all of their activities that they are overextended. The problem here is that they are involved in so many activities that they are not getting enough sleep. Studies have shown that those who are five need at least 12 hours of sleep. Teens need eight and a half to nine and a half, and ten year old children around 10 hours. A study done by the National Sleep Foundation in 2006 found that only 20% of teens were getting the required amount of sleep they should. If your child is involved in too much they will lack the adequate amount of sleep causing them to them to fall asleep in the car, at dinner and even at school.
They act like an old lady
Does your child constantly complain of aches and pains that you would expect out of an old lady or man, but not from a vibrant, young, healthy child? Are they irritable and grumpy all the time? These are all signs that they are being overworked and need more time to sleep and just enjoy themselves.
The Big “No” to everything
When your child starts saying no to all those things that used to be their favorite things to do, put your alert button on standby. Not to worry if it is just one or two “no’s” sporadically, but stand up and take notice if they continually refuse there once favorite foods, activities, TV shows, etc.
They are never “just hanging out.”
If you begin to notice that your child has no time just to hang out and be themselves, then this too is a good indicator that their cup runneth over. They can’t hang out with the rest of you after dinner? They don’t want to go and get ice cream with the rest of the family? It is obvious that they feel crushed for time and that they need some free time.
School Performance Drops
If your child is over scheduled for things they often times let their homework slide which will lead to a drop in their grades. If your child was once a straight B student and now they are struggling to get C’s take note. It may not only be that they don’t have time for the homework but they may be falling asleep in class.
Your Car becomes your Meeting Place
When you notice that you are spending the majority of your time with your child in the car there is something wrong. If your monthly gas bill has increased dramatically and it is a result of taking the kids to their activities you may want to investigate what it is that necessitates all this running around.
Quality family time
Does your child still take part in family outings? Do they the take the time on the weekend to hang out with the rest of the family to watch the Saturday movie while you all munch on a big bowl of popcorn? Are they missing meals because they are at practice or meets all the time? Another sign that are too many demands on your child’s time.
The Disappearing Act
Their best friend that used to be tied to their hip stops dropping by. Your child’s life is so tied up that they don’t have time for this friend anymore and the two drift apart.
They Ask to Quit
Although this seems like a no-brainer, many times kids will beg to quit the dance or music lessons they just started the week before. The trick here is setting up a guideline for when a child joins up for something. You don’t want to give in every time they want to quit right off.
This serves only to teach them a bad lesson in life that it is OK to quit something in “real life” events later on in life. They learn to be a quitter. If your child asks to quit something, you should do your best to ascertain why they want to. It may be for reasons you never expected.
Deciding how many extracurricular activities is no easy task. It has been shown that girls are more likely than boys to get over scheduled and that these overwhelmed kids are usually from families where the parents are overbooked themselves. Pay attention to the signs and take and take heed when you start to see a pattern of the above behaviors. Sit down and talk to your child and decide with them how to make things better.