Now the trend is to sign your kids up for everything–from sports to dance to music to art–in hopes of keeping them too busy to get into any kind of mischief.
It’s important for parents to keep the scales balanced between their kids doing too much and doing too little. And you’ll know they are out of balance when you see some of these signs:
- Your child has little down time. Every child needs time to just be a kid and to face the challenge of figuring out what to do when he is bored.
- Your kid is irritable. Kids who don’t have downtime have no opportunity to process their emotions and sort out their feelings about what happened in their day. Scurrying from one activity to another with little time off can cause emotional energy to build up and their anxiety may result in emotional outbursts or temper tantrums.
- What used to be fun isn’t fun anymore. If your child complains about one activity, it’s not a big deal. But if they grumble about everything that used to appeal to them, it’s time to pay attention.
- Family mealtimes have disappeared. It’s one thing to miss a couple, but if you can’t manage to sit down 3-4 nights out of the week together as a family, then you are missing some very valuable bonding and conversational time.
- Your child has trouble sleeping, or waking. Kids who are overbooked often have trouble falling asleep at night because they can’t wind down. Conversely, they may wake up early, anxious about all they have to do. They may also be so tired from their activities that that have difficulty waking up each morning. Other sleep disturbances include nightmares or bed-wetting.
- Your child doesn’t have time to hang with her best friend.
- Your child doesn’t have time to be at family gatherings and events.
- Your child’s grades are suffering and homework is not getting done. One of the most common signs of an overscheduled child is dropping grades.
- Your child gets clingy and looks to you for instruction about everything, like how to use his time or what to do next.
- You spend too much money on gas. When you are spending more time driving your kids around than anywhere else, it’s a pretty good sign that schedules are focusing more on activities than on family time.
It seems kids are getting burned out younger than ever because parents have somehow come to the conclusion that busier is better. Let’s strive to keep the scales balanced in our children’s lives so that they have time and energy to really enjoy the activities they do have and the people in their lives.
“When we get too caught up in the busyness of the world, we lose connection with one another – and ourselves.” –Jack Kornfield