Parenting is a balancing act, and boy is there an awful lot of balancing to do! We want EVERYTHING for our kids and if we stretch our schedules (and ourselves!) thinner and thinner, we can fit it all in, right?! After all, if they’re involved with healthy hobbies and activities, that keeps them out of trouble with some not-so-healthy alternatives, right?
Gifted Musically? Ok, where’s the sign-up sheet for lessons?
Has an incredible stride? Cross country it is.
LOVES gymnastics? Commit to a competitive team.
Next thing you know, you’re getting more frequent oil changes, your kids are putting in the hours of a part-time job with all their extracurriculars, bedtime is getting later and later, you can’t remember the last meal you shared as a family anywhere except your van, and everyone is grumpy and exhausted.
Guess what folks…your family is overscheduled.
Not convinced? Here are a few signs to look out for which may suggest simplifying your family schedule is in order:
- Irritability, Anxiousness, & Apathy. If you notice emotional changes in your child, this could suggest that they have some underlying needs that are not being met. This could be because you simply don’t have time to meet them. If your kiddo is more irritable, having more tantrums, is clingy and nervous, or doesn’t seem to be enjoying their hobbies, dig a little deeper with them about why. It could be that all these activities they’re enrolled in to make them “better rounded individuals” is stressing them out.
- School problems. Maybe homework isn’t being completed or turned in. Perhaps grades are slipping. Maybe your child isn’t showing interest in school at all, or maybe the opposite is true and your child is overwhelmed and experiencing panic about school and all that is required of him/her. There’s only so many hours to a day. Something has to give.
- Not enough sleep. Are you and your children exhausted from all the activities? Do you dread the day’s schedule of events? Is bedtime getting later and later, sleep less and less? When our brains sleep, they go to work. If your child (or you!) isn’t getting enough sleep, you’re not allowing your brain time to heal, process information, grow, manage important systems such as hormones, etc. Not to mention…if we don’t sleep well, we aren’t able to manage our emotions as well.
- Your child is unable to just “be.” Kids need down time. They need to learn the skill of combating boredom. If they are constantly on the go, they don’t learn this skill and aren’t allowed the opportunity to let their own creativity to blossom. Be intentional about creating these opportunities for your children.
- Disconnection. If your family is always shuffling from one place to another, this means you could be missing opportunities to connect with one another. When was the last time your family was able to sit down and enjoy a meal together while discussing your days? Quality downtime allows your family to connect more, which improves your relationship and meets needs your child has that a coach, teacher, and friend can’t. They need you.
There are many things that are outside of our control when it comes to parenting. Your weekly schedule is not one of those things. If you feel your family needs more downtime, more connection, and more relaxation, only you can make those changes. Take a look at your weekly schedule and decide upon one activity or commitment that you can let go. Any extra-curricular activities that you let go of is only going to benefit your family in the long run with the added opportunities for quality time with one another. During this extra chill time, you’re gaining in your schedule, go for a family hike, bake together, or play a game. Continue to do this monthly until the warning signs of overscheduling fade away and you feel your family is gaining the calm and connection you’re craving.