Beyond Burnout & Bickering: Avoid Overscheduling Your Kids

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engagement
flowers
food
fruit
hat
language
line
perfume
translation
wine
baseball
beauties
chair
cigarette
clothing
computer
cup
desk
dress
drug
dye
fanning
fitness
glasses
harvester
helmet
jewelry
knife
pen
slippers
socks
snacks
stone
toothpaste
toys
camera
clock
combs
counting
fishing
keyboard
makeup
microphones
mouse
pack
paper
photographs
print
school
sofa
sunglasses
trader
umbrella
underwear
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
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engagement
flowers
food
fruit
hat
line
perfume
translation
wine
baseball
chair
desk
drug
dye
fanning
fitness
glasses
harvester
helmet
jewelry
knife
oil
pan
pen
pet
slippers
snacks
socks
stone
toothpaste
toys
camera
clock
combs
counting
fishing
keyboard
makeup
microphones
mouse
pack
paper
photographs
print
school
sofa
sunglasses
trader
umbrella
underwear
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
office
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
weddingdress
engagement
flowers
food
fruit
hat
line
perfume
translation
wine
baseball
beauties
chair
cigarette
clothing
computer
cup
desk
dress
drug
dye
fanning
fitness
glasses
harvester
helmet
jewelry
knife
oil
pan
pen
pet
slippers
snacks
socks
stone
toothpaste
toys
camera
clock
combs
counting
fishing
keyboard
makeup
microphones
mouse
pack
paper
photographs
print
school
sofa
sunglasses
trader
umbrella
underwear
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
weddingdress
engagement
flowers
food
fruit
hat
line
perfume
translation
wine
baseball
beauties
chair
cigarette
clothing
computer
cup
desk
dress
drug
dye
fanning
fitness
glasses
harvester
helmet
jewelry
knife
oil
pan
pen
pet
slippers
snacks
socks
stone
toothpaste
toys
camera
clock
baseball
beauties
chair
cigarette
clothing
computer
cup
deck
dress
drug
dye
fan
fitness
glasses
helmet
knife
oil
ornament
harvester
pan
flowers
food
fruit
hat
keyword
language
line
perfume
translation
wine
baseball
beauties
chair
cigarette
clothing
computer
cup
deck
dress
dye
fan
fitness
glasses
harvester
helmet
knife
oil
ornament
pan
pen
pet
slippers
snacks
socks
stone
toothpaste
toy
wine
camera
clock
baseball
basketball
beauties
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
counting
cup
deck
dress
drug
dye
fan
Fishing
fitness
flowers
food
fruit
glasses
harvester
hat
helmet
keyboard
Keyword
knife
line
makeup
microphones
mouse
ornament
oil
pack
pan
paper
perfume
pet
photographs
print
school
slippers
snacks
socks
sofa
stone
sunglasses
toothpaste
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
rock
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
toy
translation
umbrella
underwear
wine
yoga
basketball
beauties
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
counting
cup
cycling
deck
dress
drug
fan
Fishing
flowers
food
fruit
hat
keyboard
Keyword
makeup
drug
dye
fitness
glasses
harvester
helmet
knife
line
microphones
mouse
oil
ornament
pack
pan
paper
perfume
pet
photographs
print
school
slippers
socks
sofa
stone
sunglasses
toothpaste
toy
translation
umbrella
underwear
wine
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
rock
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
office
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
weddingdress
baseball
basketball
beauties
chair
cigarette
clothing
comb
computer
counting
cup
cycling
deck
dress
drug
dye
fan
Fishing
fitness
flowers
food
fruit
glasses
harvester
hat
helmet
keyboard
Keyword
knife
line
makeup
microphones
mouse
oil
ornament
pack
pan
paper
perfume
pet
photographs
print
school
slippers
snacks
socks
sofa
stone
sunglasses
toothpaste
toy
translation
umbrella
underwear
wine
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
rock
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
office
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
weddingdress
baseball
basketball
beauties
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
counting
cup
cycling
deck
dress
drug
dye
fan
Fishing
fitness
flowers
food
fruit
glasses
harvester
hat
helmet
keyboard
Keyword
knife
language
line
makeup
microphones
mouse
oil
ornament
pack
pan
paper
perfume
pet
photographs
print
school
slippers
snacks
socks
sofa
stone
sunglasses
toothpaste
toy
umbrella
underwear
wine
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
rock
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
office
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
weddingdress
baseball
basketball
beauties
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
counting
cup
cycling
dress
deck
drug
dye
fan
Fishing
fitness
flowers
food
fruit
glasses
harvester
hat
helmet
keyboard
Keyword
knife
line
makeup
microphones
mouse
ornament
pack
paper
perfume
pet
photographs
print
school
slippers
snacks
socks
sofa
stone
sunglasses
toothpaste
toy
translation
umbrella
underwear
wine
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
rock
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
office
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
weddingdress
baseball
basketball
beauties
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
sport
time
weddingdress
baseball
basketball
beauties
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
hat
helmet
keyboard
Keyword
knife
language
line
makeup
microphones
mouse
oil
ornament
pack
pan
paper
perfume
pet
photographs
print
school
slippers
snacks
socks
sofa
stone
sunglasses
toothpaste
toy
translation
umbrella
underwear
yoga
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hot
mouse
music
wine
baby
hbo
ice
novel
red
rock
science
sexy
show
study
sports
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
office
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
basketball
beauties
counting
cup
cycling
dye
fitness
food
fruit
harvester
baseball
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
deck
dress
drug
fan
Fishing
flowers
glasses
hat
helmet
keyboard
Keyword
knife
language
line
makeup
microphones
mouse
oil
ornament
pack
pan
paper
perfume
pet
photographs
print
school
snacks
socks
sofa
sunglasses
toothpaste
slippers
stone
toy
translation
umbrella
underwear
wine
yoga
baby
bag
chinese
fat
film
gaming
hbo
hot
ice
mouse
music
novel
red
rock
science
sexy
show
sports
study
train
university
weight
wow
auto
book
care
clothes
desk
diplomacy
hospital
office
party
paypal
rock
shopping
sport
time
weddingdress
baseball
basketball
beauties
camera
chair
cigarette
clock
clothing
comb
computer
counting
cup
cycling
deck
dress
drug
dye
fan
Fishing
fitness
flowers
food
fruit
glasses
harvester

School, sports, after-school activities, birthday parties, and social commitments–all of these things compete for your child’s energy and attention on a daily basis. And now that kids are hopping on social media at increasingly younger ages, the pressure to participate can become fierce early on. All those images of friends playing sports, hanging out at a pool party, or posing together in a gleeful gaggle may cause your child to feel like his schedule doesn’t quite measure up.

But no matter whose idea it is to keep kids busy and social 24-7, it’s ultimately every parent’s job to make sure kids don’t fall into the over-scheduling trap. Kids need their parents to make space for them to just be, so they don’t feel compelled to constantly do-do-do.

If parents don’t take an active role in supporting each child’s individuality, then their uniqueness is going to take a back seat to their busy schedule, and this can create feelings of isolation or even depression in kids and lay the groundwork for workaholism later in life.

Kids discover their sense of self in the quiet moments of life, when they can relax, be themselves, and let their instincts lead. If they can’t find quiet, reflective moments in their overly busy lives, identifying individual desires may be delayed or denied. So be smarter than your sources, parents. Don’t let your child’s individuality get overlooked because you are keeping him steadily overbooked.

Prioritize The Calendar. Before you add another activity into the busy mix, pause and consider what’s already on the schedule for the entire family. It’s only natural to want to do it all, but saying yes to everything will only exhaust everyone and cut into valuable family time. If you can manage another addition, consider it. If you can’t; then it’s time to prioritize.

Focus On Enrichment. Does the activity bring more joy and energy into your child’s life or does it create conflicts and anxiety? Joining the competitive soccer league may sound fun, but if your child does not enjoy the level of intensity, then maybe a local intramural league is a better fit. Don’t assume the most expensive or competitive choice is always the best fit for your child’s needs. Sometimes less really is more.

Shrug Off Kiddie Competition. Pressure to conform is ever-present in childhood. The kids next door participate in more activities than your kids? So what. Left to their own devices, kids will often compare their experiences with other kids and find theirs lacking. How many times have you heard that their friends’ parents let them do this or that? Strong, secure parents can hear this without giving in to pressure. They do? That’s nice. This is what we do and these are the reasons why.

Find Mentors Of Character. When you choose the activity, you also choose the role model who is in charge. Make sure coaches, organizers, and leaders are the types of people you want influencing your kids. Mentors who focus on character model healthy choices, and allow kids to act like kids while helping them build skills in a measured manner. If you are concerned that a coach or activity leader is over-zealous or too high-pressure, trust your instincts and investigate further.

Allow For Downtime. Be sure your family has at least a day or two each week when no outside activities are on the schedule. Whether you participate in a religious Sabbath or not, everyone in the family can benefit from observing a weekly day of rest. And spending a whole day enjoying family time each week will bring your family closer and remind everyone that family comes first.

Encourage Personal Development. Kids need hobbies, just like adults. Private, personal activities that don’t have to be shared with others can be soothing, pleasurable, and teach kids to become more self-directed. So if your child loves to bake, knit, build models, or peer at the stars, support those interests. When you buy her special ingredients, pretty yarn, three types of glue, or the slightly better telescope, you are saying, “I see you and I support the person you are becoming.” Every child needs and wants this kind of recognition and acknowledgement from parents.

Be Honest With Yourself. Do you really care more about what others think of your kids than you do about your family’s overall happiness? Do you worry you are living in such a dog-eat-dog world that your child has to be hyper-busy to compete? Are you so concerned about your child’s social standing that you put her in activities she doesn’t care about to expose her to the right kids? If any of these are true, take a step back. When it comes to scheduling your child, let her needs lead, not yours.

Watch For Signals Of Over-doing. Is your child happily content or often tired and irritable? Do you have a mutual admiration society at home or are family members always snipping at each other? Is everyone sleeping well at night or is exhaustion the norm? Are you in charge of the schedule or do stress and pressure run the show? Remember that your family deserves to feel calm and contented. Take charge of how you spend your time and your children will soon follow suit.

Relax, Kick Back & Hang Out

Take back your family’s quality of life by trying some of these simple strategies.

  • Have a family project you all work on year round in a leisurely manner like a vegetable garden or even a puzzle.
  • Go on local outings with the mission of simply hanging out together.
  • Take an occasional family walk together in a go-to location when something challenging needs to be discussed and sorted out.
  • Watch a family double feature with popcorn, drinks, and lively discussions.
  • Take the family to the library and spend an hour gathering books, magazines, music, and DVDs.
  • Make Sunday brunch a ritual activity either at home or at an inexpensive local restaurant.
  • Have a casual but consistent family meeting once a week to get a better sense of how kids are feeling about the ways they spend their time.

Christina Katz is an author, journalist, and coach, who often writes on the topic of life balance and personal self-expression. She knows the power of saying no and is not afraid to use it.

Guest Contributor

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