Are you feeling exhausted at the end of every day? Does it seem like you spend more time in your car than you do at home? If so, you might be over-scheduled.
It seems as though we have gotten to a place in society where it’s cool to be busy. We seem to believe that if we don’t sign our kids up for every activity, their peers are in, they will somehow miss out.
If our kids are not practicing a sport, musical instrument or in tutoring, they will be left in the dust when it comes time to register for college.
What we don’t realize is we are actually creating anxiety in our lives, as well as in our kids.
In this post, I will go over why over-scheduling is terrible for our kids and us. I will also share some ideas on where to start to get your much needed time back.
Over-scheduling is Bad for Us
I found an interesting article on The Advocate Health Care Website, and it stated that “In the ’80s and ’90s, structured school sports only required 90 minutes a week, according to a survey by the University of Michigan. After that time period, it increased to 3 hours per week. The survey also found that children’s unstructured free time had dropped by 12 hours per week. Meanwhile, time on homework has gone up 50 percent.”
I’m sure you think that was a long time ago, the sad thing is, it has only gotten worse. Our kids’ schedules are filled to the brim these days.
These schedules that leave no one time to breathe are actually a recipe for childhood anxiety. And of course, it is equally stressful for us parents.
If you are a working parent, you might have to delegate driving duties as well as make sure your kids eat and take water bottles with, how stressful is that? On top of all of that, you are having those certain feelings of guilt because you can’t always be there.
I mean, who needs that? I know you don’t & I am willing to bet, neither do your kids.
My Son Wanted to Quit
My kids were definitely feeling stressed earlier this year. I had them scheduled in a martial arts class three time a week, as well as baseball, and soccer. As soon as it came time to start soccer my son, Caiden, begged me to let him skip this season.
I felt so torn. Caiden is such a fast runner & I knew if he just kept practicing he could be really good. But, I also knew, I didn’t want to force any of my kids to do a sport just because I thought they were good, or because of my dreams for them.
Now that is not to say; I never force my kids to do things, pshh… I definitely do! They have to take out the trash, pull weeds and clean their room, all when they don’t want to.
But, I feel that our kids should have a choice in some things, like their extracurriculars. So, I had a good talk with Caiden & I asked him why he didn’t want to play soccer. I felt that if he had a good enough answer, I might let him off the hook.
He told me that he already had so much to do, he felt like he had no time to relax.
Although I kinda, giggled at my kid complaining of having no relaxation time, I mean “seriously Bud, your 7!” Do you want to see what no-chill really looks like? “Look at these bags under my eyes!” Hah.
Yes, I giggled, but he had a good point. So yea, I asked for a soccer refund.
Give Them Time to Be Creative
Manning, who is a registered counselor and psychotherapist, has said that “Kids need to learn how to manage their own time, manage to be on their own, manage boredom, and build their own interests for the sheer enjoyment of them – not for an outcome or achievement.” (Sydney Morning Herald)
You might be surprised to know that kids who actually have more unstructured time tend to be more creative. When kids have the opportunity to be bored, they gain time to think of what to do with themselves.
Here is what I found on The Advocate Health Care Website, “Children with unstructured free time have more time to process activities and learning. “They are more creative, self-driven, independent. Unstructured play time with friends can lead to better social skills,” says Dr. Viegas-Miller.”
As I’m sure you have guessed by now, your kiddos are not the only ones suffering because of the schedule overload. You are too! You need downtime too, friend. Let’s go over ways to get some of that much needed time back.
Stop Overscheduling & Get Your Time Back
Most of the time, people know if their schedule is overextended. But if you are borderline and not sure, check for these signs:
- Grumpy or exhausted kids
- Your kid has no time for friends
- Your kid can’t handle boredom
- No time for school work
You know what your child looks and acts like normal, so only you can tell if they’re off.
If you find that your schedule is too full, take a look at what is important:
1. Decide what activities are essential & whats optional: For my family, the kids Mixed Martial Arts class is a must because there is much more taught there than just some combos. My kids learn great life lessons and discipline in MMA. Soccer was fun but optional.
2. Talk to the kids & see what activities they love: In our family, we try to stick with one other activity other than MMA. That way even if all 4 of our kids have an activity, we are not too overbooked.
3. Try to space out activities: If possible, leave some time in between activities, this might not always be possible. But, looking into ones that are seasonal is nice, because there is an end to it. If the kids choose a couple of sports, for example, you might ask them to try ones that have opposite seasons.
4. Save Room for Fun: Do you have enough room in your schedule if a fun party comes up? Or if your kid’s friends get together at a park? Try to leave some cushion time for the unexpected.
5. Say No to Too Much: It is okay to say no. If your kids want to do everything, you are just going to have to let them know; there isn’t enough time for it all. It’s quality over quantity always. They will live, I promise. If you need more info on why it’s ok to say no, check this post out.
In The End
Try & remember how important it is to leave yourself & your kids time to relax. Give your stress response a break it needs. A brain that has no time to rest can develop anxiety. and I know, “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!”
I hope you will feel better about trimming your schedule now.
You deserve chill time too! Your whole family can benefit from a balanced day.
Leave a comment below & tell me what crowds your schedule these days?