Make sure kids have time to just be kids. Let them play, explore, be free. Don’t take away their childhood by overscheduling them.
That sounds so lovely and conjures up images of kids riding their bikes through the neighborhood or laying in the grass, pointing up at the shapes they find in the clouds. All with huge grins on their faces. Idyllic. A return to the type of childhoods most of us had when our parents didn’t entertain us and expected us to be outside doing something until the streetlights came on.
Because the alternative is stressed out kids rushing from one activity to another, no time for any free play or creativity. And of course, with scowls on their faces or even tears streaming down.
Neither of those descriptions fit my kids.
They do have plenty of activities scheduled. Over the past year, they have participated in soccer, baseball, basketball, karate, hip hop, running, and chess club. They recently tried yoga, too. And those activities often overlap seasons.
Add in that I have three kids and it often seems like I’m always taking my kids somewhere or picking them up from something. I can’t even do it all on my own: having to rely on carpools with other parents since my boys often have conflicting schedules.
Yet, I wouldn’t call my kids overscheduled.
They still have hours each day, outside of school, their activities, and homework, to do what they want.
They have days when they don’t have any activities.
Plus, they choose what they want to do. They aren’t pressured into any activity and they have the option to take a season off from any they want a break from or to drop one entirely.
My boys are at ages where they enjoy trying new things and don’t feel self-conscious about it. So if they want to try something new, we let them. Hip hop has been an experience for two of them this year.
Not every second of every day is planned out for them. They still have free time.
Maybe not as much as that lovely vision of days with no obligations at all.
But if my kids had all that free time, they’d use some of it in that imagined carefree way… but they’d also spend much more time on electronics than they do now. And then we’d have a whole different issue to talk about.
Our days might appear busy to some and they can even feel that way to me at times, but my kids are happy, active, and yes, do still have free time. So, I wouldn’t call them overscheduled.