I will admit I was one of those parents who overloaded my children with activities. And with three kids… we were very busy. Yet, about a year ago, I had an epiphany! My son plays select basketball, which accounts for three nights a week during basketball season. He was approached to play select soccer, and I said, “Sure, let’s try it.” I didn’t want him to miss out on anything. To which my son replied, “Mom, don’t you think that is a bit much?” I felt incredibly foolish that my 8-year-old had more perspective and common sense than I did.
I had always said that when they are little, my kids would be involved in as many activities as possible so they could discover what they’re passionate about and be well-rounded. For my son, the oldest, this usually meant summers jam-packed with activities like sports camps, hiking and many others. However, I’ve come to realize that by just listening to my son, I easily figured out what should be happening. There were so many times when he “just wanted to play outside” – no structure, no rules, just fun. He asks to play basketball and you can’t get him away from the hoop, so I don’t mind filling his schedule with basketball activities. But the bottom line is that kids don’t need to try everything to become interested in or passionate about something; that can all happen naturally because that’s the way kids are built. I just wasn’t listening.
So… as we grow, we learn. And I’m using what I’ve learned as I schedule my second child’s time. We sign up for different activities based on her different interests. We are not making a long-term commitment to any one sport or one activity… she is just 7, for goodness sake! And it’s working very well. She is involved in what she wants to be involved in. The only rule we have is that when she commits to something, we stick with it until the season is over. I will admit it is hard when all of her friends are signing up for basketball and she isn’t. I don’t want her to miss out on the fun. But who is it really fun for if she has no interest? Again, I just needed to listen.
Thankfully, my third child is only 2 and is involved in nothing. I don’t have any free time left over anyway. Typical third child syndrome… but we are a work in progress. Maybe next year, we can finally sign up for Kindermusik.
These resources provided good advice to help me know when our family was on activity overload: