School and Sports
Warning signs your kids are over-scheduled.
The day’s just beginning for kids when the afternoon bell rings. Because after school comes homework, play practice, ballet, soccer, music lessons, and on and on. Kids these days are busier than ever. With nearly every minute of their lives scheduled, there’s little time left for down time and play, leaving kids stressed, tired, and struggling in school.
All parents want their children to be successful, whether that means getting straight As, making the varsity team, or being chosen for the lead role in the school play. But when should parents say “No” to extracurricular activities? Is there a point when all the lessons and practices become more trouble than they’re worth?
In most cases your kids won’t come out and tell you they’re stressed and want to cut back on extra activities. So be on the lookout for physical and/or psychological symptoms of stress and anxiety in your kids, yourself, and your family. Here are a few warning signs your family is over-scheduled and what to do about it.
When it comes to sports, children no longer into the game may complain about feeling sick when it’s time for practice or games. They may seem abnormally nervous before, during, and following the games. During practice they may play great but not during games.
An overscheduled child may begin to have trouble in school. Many families lose sight of the fact that school is a top priority, hands down. Grades matter more than the number of goals scored. Late night games, little time for homework, and not enough sleep are a recipe for poor grades.
Always in the Car
Ever feel like you spend more time in the car than at home? Shuttling your kids from here to there and everywhere with little time to relax at home is a clear sign it’s time to cut something out of your calendar. When everyone’s on their own device in the car there’s even less time to connect as a family. Plan to make the car a screen-free zone unless you’re on a long trip.
Moody and Depressed
Overscheduled kids are more likely to be moody, irritable, and depressed. Signs of depression in kids include avoiding friends and social activities, secluding themselves in their room, crying often, and being quiet. When a child used to beg to have friends over but now seems to want nothing but down time on his or her own, it may be a sign life is too busy.
It’s not just kids who suffer from overscheduling. It’s the parents who have to carpool, chaperone, and feed their kids while juggling work, errands, and home life. Parents often feel guilty if their kids aren’t involved in this and that activity, but when kids’ sports and extra curricular activities take priority, parents might not have time to take care of themselves or their marriage.
When this happens, you may feel stressed, tired, irritable, and distant from your spouse. And despite what others may say, the health of your marriage is drastically more important than any soccer practice, flute lesson, or dance rehearsal.
No Free Time
Take a close look at your calendar. It may be time to cut back on activities when you’re too busy to sit down together at a family meal, you eat fast food more than once or twice a month, and you no longer have time to prepare healthy meals.
When was the last time your family spent time relaxing together besides in the car or at a sporting event? Can you remember the last time you had a date night with your spouse? When extra curricular activities get in the way of quality family time, it’s time to scale back.
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