“True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.” ~Wilhelm von Humboldt
We love playing games as a family and even though I’m a few and far between exerciser (I’ve never been into sports and really don’t get the happy vibes from working out), the kids are in activities and sports.
My son is in baseball, tried Taekwondo, did soccer last year, and is in swimming lessons. We also enjoy camping in the summer. My daughter is in dance and swimming lessons. I also used to teach piano and voice lessons from home (I loved it, but it did not work well for our family schedules).
I only have one in school and juggling the few activities involved for that and the after school ones both children are in can get hectic. And yet, I know some who are even busier than we are with the balancing act. Rarely do you get a moment to rest and breathe before you’re off to the next. At times, you choose between which practice you’ll miss our who’s game you attend.
Growing up, I took piano lessons and was in a couple school activities (choir until my later years). I felt busy enough but still had time for my friends. My son barely sees his because schedules rarely match up already in 2nd grade.
I love the fact that the kids have the chance to participate in these, but when do you draw the line and say enough is enough? The discipline, responsibility, team spirit, sportsmanship, and other traits learned from partaking is treasured, but how do you know when they are being spread too thin?
In doing a very brief bit of research, I’m shocked at how big of an issue this really has become. ABC News, NY Times, WebMD, and others have articles relating to this topic and something piqued my interest. Why? Why do we feel so pressured to do it all? All the things. That seems to be a common trait among families. We want a well-rounded child who contributes to society and finds their passion and purpose in life.
But, as Josh Levs with CNN points out in his article, “It isn’t about a search for the perfect activities. My role as a parent is to help guide my kids to that good place. And there are plenty of ways to get there.” Our fears and worries, and sometimes even guilt, tend to be a driving force in how many activities our children are involved in and if or where we draw the line.
- Downtime. While organized sports/activities are wonderful, so is independent play and learning to just be. Having some downtime to just enjoy each other’s company and/or figuring out how to keep themselves occupied should not be something overlooked. Chances are they won’t be able to afford everything they desire to do when they get older, so let them figure that out.
- Watch for cues. They will let you know when they are getting burnt out. Perhaps they are showing signs of depression or exhaustion. Cut their little hearts a break. Little bodies and brains need a rest sometimes.
- Do what works for your family. Some kids are like energizer bunnies. I get that. And if your child has a friend with that stamina, do not feel obligated to have your little keep up with them or do everything that child does at the level that kiddo does. Your precious tiny may thrive with one activity while another may need three to have enough stimulation. Accept that and be proud.
Basically, pay attention, be aware of your child’s feelings, and stop stressing. You are doing a great job, and in this day and age, I’m convinced your little gets the activity of mind and exercise of the body for true enjoyment. Keep up the good work and relish the little moments!