Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Over Scheduling

I was talking to a friend today and we were discussing a mutual acquaintance, who constantly over schedules herself. She has drinks with one friend, dinner with another and then goes dancing with a third. I commented that she needs to stop scheduling so much all the time.

Then I realized - I am no different. I always have to have plans, and if I don't I get antsy. I thrive on knowing what's next. I check my watch constantly, even if I am having a GREAT time. My monkeys are inheriting this trait from me. They are like the energizer bunny on speed!

Today the big monkey had camp until 3pm. She had ballet at 4pm, flamenco at 5pm and hip hop at 6pm. The little monkey had preschool until 4:45pm. Broadway Jazz at 5pm. Both had swimming at 7:15pm. They love being over-scheduled. To them, it's just right. Granted, today was an anomaly and there normally won't be so many activities in one day, but SHEESH!

The minute they ask me to slow it down I will.

I was talking to a co-worker and he told me that most people don't do as much for their kids as I do for mine. I'm actually not sure if he meant it as a compliment or put down.

Now for my question:

Am I a typical mother? Do most kids have 2-3 activities a week? Do I do more for my kids than other parents? Do I do less?


Under the Influence said...

I do not like to be overscheduled. I like my kids to have down time, time to play and be creative on their own without being in a guided activity, be with friends doing the above - not being in a structured environment all the time. There are all kinds of studies showing how overscheduled kids are and how it is negatively effecting them. (I am NOT saying you are doing that, just pointing out is becoming commonplace in our society.)

I also like to have meals together - me, my husband and the kids - in the evening on occasion (and it IS only occasionally, unfortunately) and we are barely here for that more than once a week even with our moderately scheduled schedule. I shoot for once a week for a sit down meal together and that seems to work well. We sometimes get to squeeze in some extras!

I have three boys and we have a house "rule" - only two activities at a time and only one can be a competitive sport. If you get in two competitve sports at the same time, one team suffers because inevitably, there will be a few practice or game conflicts and you have to choose one over the other, leaving the other team hanging.

And on the selfish side, I like to have some time to do some things on my own, allowing my kids to spend some one-on-one time with my hubs/their dad and my husband and I like to have one-on-one time together - a dinner out, happy hour with friends, etc.

Lucy said...

My children always had 'down' time. My son is very active and even in High school I insisted on down time. My daughter needs down time too.

They were only in two scheduled activities at a time. In the summer only one. The summer they swam, played and read. BUT, it was important that they had what I called 'free' play, with kids in the neighborhood or at the sitter. I did not always want them in a structured or guided activity.

As a teacher, you see that the children that are overscheduled are the ones that have trouble thinking outside of the box. They always want to be told what to do and they always want the teacher to fix a situation. In other words, they do not have social skills because they are in constant adult supervision or always in activities that an adult controls.

Down time gives kids a chance to develop important other skills. Just time to dream is important. It is creative. And 'keeping them busy' takes that time of dreaming away.

It really is o.k. to let the kids be alone, hanging out, chillin.

It is all about BALANCE.

BUT, they won't ask. You have to guide them, just like you sign them up for their activities.

Good luck, it is not easy parenting. You know your kids the best, go with your gut!

Diane J. said...

I am a stickler about doing only one sport activity at a time. And, no more than two activites at a given time so band and football, that's it.

I was never a big fan of getting my kids into organized sports when they were little. I used to feel bad, but now as my kids get older, I'm thankful.

Lately, some of the kids who have been in multiple sports since they were young are now having more injuries. It's sad that a 15 year-old girl is constantly rubbing her arms with Icy-Hot. Another 17-year-old is in physical therapy from all her years in competitive gymnastics. Then there are the guys, yikes!

Of course all that being said, I still have to impose restrictions on T.V. and game system play or they'd turn into vegetables.

It's a fine line. I have no idea what is too much for your girls. I know what's too much for my boys and me, but every family is different. Go with your gut.