Kids (4-12)

Extra-Curricular Activity Overload

Do you feel more like a full-time chauffer than a mother?   Are your kids involved in so many activities that they barely spend time at home?  Are they on the verge of burn out?

Author Christine Klein provides some guidelines in determining which after-school activities to keep and which ones to cut, in her book, The Simpler Family: A Book of Smart Choices and Small Comforts for Families Who Do Too Much.

Mom’s Role

As a mother, make sure you’re not pressuring your children into extra-curricular activities that are more important to you than to them. For example, if your child enjoys soccer, let him play on a neighborhood team where he can enjoy and learn more about the sport. Don’t let your own competitive nature lead you to force him to join the most elite team which will involve heavy practice schedules and extra time traveling.  Of course, if your child is the one who expresses interest, and is ready to commit, you can consider more demanding activities.

Be Choosy

When the time comes to sign up for new activities, help your children decide which are most meaningful to them, then focus on those. Some families limit their children to one or two activities.  You don’t want extra-curriculars to take the place of family time.

Set and Protect Your Priorities

Setting priorities will help you and your children choose which activities are most important.  One family lists its priorities as God, family and school.  The mother in this family tells her children that if an activity is compromising any of these priorities, the activity must go.

Count the Cost

Klein also encourages parents to be aware of the financial pressures extra activities can bring.  “In addition to the time after-school activities require, most also carry a hefty price tag,” she says.  “Beyond registration fees, there are event fund-raisers, coach’s gifts and fast food because there’s no time to cook.”

Questions to Ask

Klein provides the following questions to when considering an activity:

  • Is my child enjoying the activity?
  • Is he learning something through his involvement?
  • Is she participating because her friends are doing it, because she thinks Mom and Dad want her to, or because she genuinely wants to?
  • Is your child’s schedule making unreasonable demands on the rest of the family?
  • Are my child’s grades suffering?
  • Are my child’s relationships suffering?

Finally, Klein says to periodically reconsider your child’s activities.  She says you may find that you could make a change that makes everyone happier, including your child.

This article is based on the book, The Simpler Family: A Book of Smart Choices and Small Comforts for Families Who Do Too Much, by Christine Klein.

© 2007 iMOM. All rights reserved.

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