Why I am an Overscheduled Parent
Another school year is starting. I’ve spent the last few weeks gathering school supplies, school uniforms and mentally preparing for the shift from the more relaxed summer to the frenzy of the school year. My kids are in elementary school (1st & 4th grade) so it isn’t really the school work that gets crazy ... it's our activities.
We never intended it to be this way. When the kids were little, my husband and I talked about how we wouldn’t “overschedule” them. They needed time to play and be kids. We wouldn’t do activities “just because.” And just like when we said our kids wouldn’t watch TV during “rest time” when they stopped napping, we ate our words.
To be fair, we don’t do activities just for the sake of doing something. We do them because the kids really want to. We try and keep it under control - one sport, something musical and usually one additional activity based on their interests. But with two kids, we are suddenly doing SIX activities a week (not counting religious school and Hebrew school for our son). We have something almost every afternoon/evening of the week M-TH and at least one day on the weekend.
Last spring my husband and I enjoyed a long weekend away while the grandparents took care of the kids. When they were little and we were able to get the rare time away together, the information I left for the grandparents was all about the kid’s schedules - when they nap, what they eat, bedtime routines, etc. This time, it was all about their activities! Baseball and softball games, Sunday school carpool and birthday parties. When we returned, my mom said to me: “I knew you were busy, but I never realized it was this busy.”
Yes, we are busy. Yes, sometimes when I look at my color-coded Google calendar I get overwhelmed by everything that is squeezed into a week. But what’s the alternative? What if they didn’t have all of these activities? We would miss watching our son pitch at his baseball game. We wouldn’t hear as he worked to figure out how to play “Back in Black” on the guitar. We wouldn’t see our daughter proudly show off her flips on the uneven bars or watch her overcome her nerves to play at her piano recital. They wouldn’t have the sense of pride you get from being a part of a team, not to mention the benefits of the sports themselves.
And I am seeing something else develop: They are starting to set goals for themselves. Our son wants to make it onto the middle school baseball team (2 years away) and our daughter really wants to learn how to do a back-kickover in gymnastics. Whether they achieve these goals or not, they are learning the value of working toward something. They can take pride in that.
So, yes we are busy. But that’s our life. I know interests will change over the years. Softball may change to swimming. Guitar might transition into the drums. But I also know it's important to us to continue to expose them to new and different things. Who knows where a new passion might develop? And of course, we will always be thankful for carpools.