School activities are always fun–time with friends, cheering for our team, concession goodies. Our schools today offer many extracurricular activities, including music, sports, and clubs. Some activities we participate in, some we audition for, and others we are elected to. Depending on the type of activity and how we participate, the time requirement can be fairly minimal to reasonably significant.
As parents, we want the best for our kids. We want them to pursue their passions and to succeed in all they do, whether that be in school or activities. We also want them to know that we support them, so Mom, dad, or both try to attend as many games, concerts, or competitions as possible. Some of us have multiple children in multiple activities, creating multiple events on the calendar.
So, how many activities are too many? I live in a rural community. In order to attend any activity my children participate in, we have to drive a minimum of 30 miles one way. Combine our remote location with operating a full-scale ranching operation, and our time becomes very important. It is easy to quickly become burned out from all the running to events, keeping kids on task with practicing and homework, and keeping the ball rolling with work. Some people thrive with a hectic pace; others prefer a steadier and slower pace. Knowing your preferences and the preferences of your children will help you to decide how many activities are enough.
My husband and I have decided no more than two extracurricular activities. Several things helped us to make this decision. First, we wanted our kids to be able to focus and excel at each of the activities they choose. Second, we as parents didn’t want to spend most of our time with the kids in the car running to the next activity, which is exactly what we would do with too many activities in a rural area. Finally, we wanted to enjoy the small things with our kids, like eating a meal together or visiting about how their day went. We wanted a little time in our schedule for just being together or whatever might come up. We wanted to be intentional about teaching our kids to live at a slower pace and enjoy the little things along the way.
Here are a few questions to consider when deciding how many activities for the kids:
- Do we want them to truly put their best in all they do, and, if so, what can they realistically tackle?
- Do we want them to enjoy the simple things in life, like more time with family and lazy Saturday mornings?
- How many activities can your child handle given their personality, need for study, and interests?
- How many activities can you afford?
- Do your children have time to remain active participants at home, completing appropriate chores and taking care of their own stuff? If not, they may be in too many activities.
As we begin a new school year, I urge you to consider the activities in your children’s lives. Evaluate each of your children’s specific needs and interests, remembering to slow down and take the time to enjoy just being with your kids. Search for a sustainable balance of activities. Let’s make this a stress-free year!
Comment and let us know who many activities you think are too many and how you, as a family, made that decision.
Contributed by Carrie Guthmiller