We have been racking our brains over what activities to put the kids in this fall and it has proven to be an overwhelming task. On one hand, there are so many great programs out there that I know the kids will love, but the downside is that we risk burning them and ourselves out by trying to fit too much in.
I asked parents if they thought there was a perfect number of activities for children and, not surprisingly, I received a myriad of different answers. The suggestions touched on everything from stress and lack of family time, to cost and enjoyment. I have compiled a few of them here and would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below:
• I think parents put their kids in far too many these days. Just like we need ‘down time’ so do kids. School, is one thing, but having them in other activities three- five evenings a week, and on weekends is ridiculous. Give them some time to be kids and learn how to make their own fun, use their imaginations, play outside, and to just live a simple life. I think that one extra activity a week is MORE than enough.
• Depends on ages, homework level and family time. We did many more before they were in school. Now I find two a week for each of them is a good balance so they still have time for exercise, school work, chores, friends and family.
• We did a number of activities and the kids enjoyed them…but when we found THE ONE, we dropped everything else and now they LOVE it!
• I definitely think there is such a thing as too many. Kids need time to just “be”. To be quiet, to read, to use their imaginations, to play freely, etc.
• I believe there are too many. I have 2 children, one who is very active. We do dance and if she wants to do a sport she can. Now being in kindergarten, by the time you pick the kid up, do the activity, get home, do homework and eat dinner, its bedtime or past. And you still have to get the bath worked in. My sister has 3 all in school and all have 2 to 3 activities each. She is exhausted getting pulled every direction every night of the week. I think society has forgotten about good old family time!
• Last year we did 4 activities per kid and I found it extremely stressful! Now we are only doing 2 per kid and I feel a HUGE relief (not to mention money savings!)
• There’s def such a thing as too many! We do one or two per season – but keep it quiet-ish in the fall to help set up for a successful return to school season.
• The magic question. We’re waging this debate now at home. Just getting to the ages where the schedules start filling up. We always had them both in swimming and gymnastics, now she wants to play hockey, do we drop one? Fine line between fun and burning them and us out. Feel like we’re at the top of the activity roller coaster, just about to drop in….no turning back now.
As you can see, there are many different opinions on the subject and there are many variables, such as school, number of children and their ages. With the sheer number of programs offered these days, it’s easy to see how you could pick 3-4 activities for your child without even realizing how it is going to affect your family time schedule.
For us, the perfect balance seems to be two activities a week but I really like the idea of searching for the one that they love and then fostering that above the others. Another important point raised was the one regarding the stress and well being of the parent. It’s great to keep your kids active but if the cost is that you suffer at the rest of your parenting duties while trying to be a super parent, is it really worth it?
I want to hear your thoughts on this issue. What is your strategy when it comes to signing your child(ren) up for activities?