General Question

cak's avatar

Do you think parents over schedule their kids?

Asked by cak (15836points) August 29th, 2008

I’m a parent and have been know to take on too much, at one time. I try to be careful with my children; however, they both do have activities, but this year we paired back their schedules. My son only has a sport, my daughter has a few things – not all on the same day, though.

Compared to some parents, my kids look like slackers! What are the benefits and drawbacks of keeping your kids busy?

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25 Answers

hollym's avatar

I think a lot of parents do over task their kids. I think kids are smart enough to make a lot of choices and decisions on their own and parents should try listening to them. If your kid wants to participate in several activities, let them! Keep and eye out and make sure they’re not becoming run down or falling behind in school, but if they’re happy and healthy, let them be, one activity or 10 (okay, that’s way too many!). Also, if they want to quit something, I don’t think it should be the end of the world. A lot of parents pressure kids to keep up with things that they simply do not enjoy just because the neighbor’s kids are doing it… but, like I said, kids are smart and they know if they like playing soccer better than piano.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

I think parents today can over schedule their kids. They don’t have to have something to DO every minute. They need time to just ‘be,’ and to ‘daydream’ and to be bored, so they appreciate the opposite of bored. And I think they need time so they have to invent what to do to stimulate themselves…but that’s just me… Cak, I think you are onto something!

cak's avatar

@hollym – great advice! I let my daughter decide this year, she made some changes and I think it works better for her. My son, he’s only 5 – soccer is his second passion, Transformers – his first!

cak's avatar

@SeekerSeeking – thank you – but geez…after 14 years with my daughter…I’m a SLOW learner! ;~)

I agree with your thinking. Sometimes, I also think it’s so they can get them into better schools or for appearances. OR…worse…they are living their lives thorugh their children.

Sometimes, even kids, need to be able to just stop and smell the roses.

augustlan's avatar

I have 3 children (the oldest is 14) and decided long ago that for the sanity of everyone in the family, only 1 activity per child at a time is allowed. Exceptions can be made, and sometimes things overlap, but for the most part we’ve stuck to it. The activities themselves are varied as to the interests of each child, and change as they change. As far as quitting an activity goes, if it’s not a team situation, where others are depending on your presence, we allow it. If it is a team situation, we strongly encourage them to stick it out till the end of the season/camp.

Tantigirl's avatar

I totally agree with what everyone has said. Too many children today seem to have every spare minute away from school and homework scheduled for them. My children have after school activities a couple of days during the week, however, like others here, it is what they have said they’d like to do. I refuse to overload them, I don’t think they need to have outside activities planned for them every day of the week.

In a way, I like it when they say they are bored, because it means that, again, they can find something that they want to do to entertain themselves. They know that there is time to play, go to the movies, and in my teen daughter’s case, hang out with friends. Both of my kids love to read, and I want them to be able to take the time to pick up their favourite book and enjoy it. My daughter will ask if she can do some baking, or she will ask if she can choose a meal that she can cook for us for dinner. She often includes her 7 year old brother in this too, which he enjoys enormously.

We have time for our kids to do these things and enjoy them, and we can do these things and enjoy it with them without having to hurry them through it because we’re going to have to throw them into the car for an unwanted activity that they really don’t want to participate in. We are able to eat as a family every day, because we aren’t running here and there with no time to do anything except stop on the way home for a pick-me-up meal. It seems that in our neighborhood, sadly, we are in the minority.

RandomMrdan's avatar

from my point of view (once being a child, but not having children)...I my only activities in school were athletics, virtually year round. I do wish that my parents would have enrolled me in some sort of musical course to learn an instrument like piano, guitar, or something. And now, I simply don’t have the time to learn an instrument.

I would suggest learning an instrument if they haven’t already begun to do that….I forgot where I read it, or heard it, but I hear children who learn instruments typically turn out better educated and more successful.

cak's avatar

@RandomMrdan – very true, music has been linked to helping children in their studies.

I taught my daughter how to play – and my son will be learning, too. He can play 2 simple songs on the guitar…but has asked for piano lessons, too.

Good answer. :)

cak's avatar

@augustlan – that’s a good strategy. Especially important is the point you made about team sports – that is a biggie for us. They can drop something that isn’t a “team” sport, but can decide that another activity is too much.

augustlan's avatar

My oldest tried, and gave up on violin, my middle did chorus, and my youngest plays the clarinet. These activities were always in school though, so we didn’t count them towards the 1 activity per child limit. The rest were more physical things: dance, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, volleyball and color guard. I like that they’ve been exposed to so many different things…just couldn’t be all at once.

cak's avatar

@Tantigirl – I’m so glad to hear that we aren’t the only ones that still do the family dinner thing! WE get very odd looks, at times!

BarbieM's avatar

@cak: Don’t worry – my kids are slackers along with yours, and I bet they are happier for it. My kids do have some activities, but they also have a lot of time to play, read, ride bikes, etc. You know, be kids. We usually stick to one activity at a time too, but my son sometimes overlaps because choir runs off and on all year.

We also sit down for dinner every night as a family too. It seems strange to my kids’ friends sometimes when they come over, but a couple of them really like it because they don’t do it at home. One of my son’s friends in particular loves eating dinner at our house, so I love cooking for him.

SeekerSeekiing's avatar

Cak, the thing is you got it NOW! That will make all the difference…

cookieman's avatar

Great advice from everyone. I’m so relieved to hear it.

My cousins have their kids in 4 to 6 activities per season. They are up at 4AM everyday and don’t get home until after 8PM at least 3 nights a week. The kids all look exhausted.

This one cousin insists it is necessary to get into better schools/avoid ridicule/keep up with the other parents/etc.

She is constantly insisting my wife and I get our 5-year-old enrolled up to her ears so she doesn’t “suffer”.

I just think it’s insane.

cak's avatar

@BarbieM – woohoo! I’m so glad someone else is in my category. Seriously, though, I’m ok with activities, but I find it amazing when people over schedule so much that they just don’t have time to breathe!

My daughter has a few friends that just love to eat at our house. We sit at the table, conversation is lively and everyone asks questions. Even my 5 year old enjoys dinner. It’s a much better way to make sure they are eating and better than eating junk on the fly.

@Seeker – that’s true! My daughter is much happier with her schedule, she has “off” nights. She isn’t as tired and is enjoying the activities. Thanks for your posts on the DB!

@cprevite – UGH! Yeah, been there, done that ans see it all too often! 11yr olds should not have dark circles! I’ve seen parents doing this and not being able to figure out why their children are grumpy or why they aren’t thriving in school. Some children can handle it, but some, they get so burned out that they can’t function. 5 yrs old, in my mind, one activity! I don’t get why people think they need to keep them going from sunrise to sunset. You are not alone!!

@everyone – thank you so much for your time! :)

Darwin's avatar

When my kids were younger I restricted them to two activities during the week. My son typically chose two sports and often wanted to drop out of those. The rule in our house is if it is a team sport, you have to finish the season. After that you never have to play it again. That seemed sufficient for him, and he still has typically two activities. Right now it is managing various sports teams at school and taking SCUBA lessons. Oh, and taking care of babies at church.

My daughter at that time was interested in theater so it was a constant battle to keep her down to just two (she wanted piano lessons, and jazz and tap lessons, and to hit every audition, plus she liked kickball and church basketball and Girl Scouts). In her case we gradually allowed her to add a few more as long as her grades stayed all As and her health stayed good.

Nowadays she is active in sports (usually only one at a particular time but sometimes two), church, a school-based social group, an honors club, and gets As, and will deliberately schedule sleep time so she gets enough. She is very organized and makes sure her homework gets done, too (often at the gym or on the bus waiting for her team to play). However, as long as she is that busy she is not allowed to get a job more complicated than periodic baby-sitting.

I have never scheduled either of the kids into something that they didn’t ask for (or in my son’s case, demand). Since there is only one driver (well, 1 1/2 – my daughter has her permit and drives to school and church but I have to be with her), we have to double check all scheduling before anyone can add another activity to the list, and above all, grades stay up and health stays good!

As to family dinners – we always eat together. Sometimes we eat late, after everyone is home, and sometimes we eat early so I can get everyone to whatever activity there is. We also go to sports events as a family, so while 1 child is playing (and pantomiming that they will DIE if they don’t get a blue Gatorade right now), the rest of the family is watching. Then we can talk about it on the way home.

One of the things we always have to consider is that one child is a major go-getter with established career plans, while the other is bipolar and very immature emotionally. So what we try to do is encourage and allow activities that will make each child happy and will develop their own talents and interests. At the same time we monitor them to make sure they stay healthy, happy and productive at school. Well, maybe we don’t worry quite so much about my son’s productivity. It is more a case of making sure he doesn’t throw any more desks at teachers and that he does actual work at school each day.

Saturday nite, Aug. 30

DevilDiva's avatar

I don’t keep my kids too busy. They need time to relax and have fun. Until they think it’s time to have fun by annoying me. THEN, I give something to do.

Judi's avatar

Trust your instincts mom. YOU are the best student of your children. YOU know what’s best for them. If they need more, you will know better than anyone else. If they need to back off you will know. Don’t judge your parenting my what the neighbors do. Your instincts about your children are better than anyone else’s.

cak's avatar

@Darwin – great answer! It’s hard, especially when the child is driven – mine seems to be heading the same direction (of being so driven) as yours. I know, for now, it’s just not possible for her to do more than what she is doing now.

I’m glad you still have time for family dinners. I remember growing up without them and swore that would be the one thing we would not go without!

cak's avatar

@DD – good balance!

@Judi – that’s one of those things I am working on. Sometimes, that doubt creeps in and just trashes all other logic. Probably, after I return home, I’ll feel more in control and that doubt will be easier to manage. :)

augustlan's avatar

@cak: What’s the latest in your treatment saga? Are you feeling any more hopeful?

cak's avatar

Hi Augustian – luckily, I’ve received better news. I did find out that I also have breast cancer and started chemo, today (again!) but it’s ok. 6 treatments and I’m also starting to hear the words I’ve been needing to hear…discharge!! I’ve been in all summer – it gets very depressing. There was also something wrong in my med records that made things look very, very bad for me. If it had been correct, there would have been little more to help me. I

Thank you for asking! :)

augustlan's avatar

Sorry about the additional chemo, but glad things are looking up!

Judi's avatar

@cak;
Glad you’‘re being discharged!! Yeah!!!!!
Mommy guilt is a fact of life. Should I have done more? Did I do to much? Maybe I babied them, Maybe I didn’t give them enough attention. The truth is, if we do the best we can with what we’re given then we’ve done everything we’re supposed to do. Eventually our kids grow up and make their own decisions. My wise older sister once said of her children “I won’t take credit for their successes and I won’t take blame for their failures.” At some point, they fly or fall and the decision is up to them. If we have done the best we can with what we had then we have done our job.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

some do. i’ve known a few kids whose parents obviously want them to succeed, but who seem to overlook the fact that they birthed a human and not a robot.

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