Thursday, October 11, 2007

The over-scheduled parent

First, I'm going to preface this by saying this post is about nobody in particular. It comes from observations I've made over the past few months. Some of you may find yourselves in this post. I think I sometimes find MYSELF in this post. Feel free to comment or not, don't feel the need to justify what you do or don't do. It's just a post about how I feel about over-scheduling. :p

So, we always hear about the over-scheduled child. I do believe this happens in our culture, a lot. Maybe it stems from the need parents feel to give their children a maximum of opportunities to choose from, maybe parents don't want to feel like they're cutting their children short. Maybe part of it is the "keeping up with the Jones'" syndrome. Maybe parents feel like denying their children the opportunity to participate in certain things is going to somehow negatively affect their development. I'm sure there are many reasons why children so often end up over-scheduled. But that's not the point of this post. This post is about something I haven't seen addressed a whole lot. The over-scheduled parent. It may work out wonderfully to give your child everything they want to have/do, if you have an only child. However, the more children you add to the mix, the crazier life tends to get. Sometimes, life is crazy for reasons we can do nothing about. But what about the things we CAN influence? Activities that are voluntary? Do younger kids always need to have/do the same things the older kids did at their age? Do we really need to provide the opportunity for our children to participate in three after-school clubs, sports, private music lessons, etc.? How do these things affect our quality of life? What happens to younger kids when they are constantly dragged around to older children's activities? When they spend half their life in the carseat (or so it seems)? Wouldn't it be wise to drop some of those activities? Prioritize? Maybe choose a sport OR after school club OR music lessons, instead of trying to do all three? Sure, our children may be exposed to fewer things, but isn't family time what's most important? Not to mention the sanity of the parents? What if we add activities parents are involved in to those of the children? Everyone deserves to have a hobby, right? I'm soon going to have my 4th child. I realize that my life is going to get more crazy as my kids get older. Even if each of them ends up being involved in only one activity, that's still going to be a lot of driving around I'll be doing. I guess that just comes along with having a larger-than-average family. But I do have a goal to choose wisely what is and isn't important for my kids, and myself. I have a goal to put my family first. I realize circumstances may arise that are beyond my control, and if that happens, I'm sure I'll be able to deal with it. But whatever control I have is going to direct my efforts to keeping my family together for meals and activities. I don't believe it's fair to cut time we spend with our younger children just so we can provide our older children with a whole array of recreational activities. It's surely sad when someone can say their baby does so well in the carseat because that's all s/he is used to...

5 comments:

Beth said...

I do have to say, the kids and I like each other more when we have scheduled activities. While it does keep us busy it also gives a routine of fun things everyone typically enjoys. For instance, it doesn't matter whose soccer practice we are going to everyone is happy to spend time at the park mom might not have wanted to do if it wasn't scheduled in. I agree that it shouldn't get in the way of family but for us while it is tricky sometimes we usually manage to eat together and if possible attend all those crazy activities together. Let's talk about callings.....

Doreen said...

Haha Beth, that's true, forgot all about callings... Dave could tell you all about my occasional rants on that topic. ;o)

Doreen said...

Oh, and I also meant to say that I agree that some type of schedule is by no means a bad thing. It's when you forget what color your living room walls are that you may have a problem. :p

Dawn said...

I hope this never comes back to bite me, but I feel like my sister is like this. I feel like she schedules her kids and herself so much stuff because she's afraid of being home. She's always somewhere, and she rarely cooks dinner at home. It's hard for me to watch without saying anything, but it's the life she seems to want--even if she seems miserable with it sometimes. :(

miranda said...

Moderation in all things :0)

Easy for me to talk, though. I only have one...