There are probably tons of articles on letting our children be bored and all kinds of research articles cited. Why oh why then are we still over-scheduling our precious little pumpkins? Does it make us feel like better parents? Do our children actually even want to do all these activities? And at what cost? To what detriment? A few things come to mind……
Now that my children are a little older or grown, I am seeing how being over-scheduled has affected so many of their peers. Kids who now have free time are anxious, stressed, depressed, lost, etc. They don’t know what to do with their lives now that they aren’t being told what to do 24/7. They are no longer exhausted from being on the go either. It is especially apparent in kids who don’t leave home or don’t work or don’t go to school. Some kids continued to stay scheduled by working full time and going to school full time. It was comfortable for them-they knew how to cope with that schedule. My oldest fell into this category.
These children who have been signed up for everything or for a year round sport or two or three, a club, volunteering, fundraising, blah, blah, blah. They don’t have time to make friends or forge lasting relationships. They are always busy. They don’t make their own decisions. They don’t figure out what to do when there’s nothing to do. Did I mention the friendships? I am still friends with many of the people I went to school with. Some kids keep in touch with their friends, however, I am not sure I see family vacations together or Friendsgivings in their future.
A couple problems I see from the parents: We had parents that weren’t involved, so we vowed to be part of our children’s lives. We maybe went too far the other direction. We think that signing our kids up for every activity they can be in makes us a good parent, shows we care, we are involved. Being busy is some sort of badge of honor. As a parent if you’re not driving your little pumpkin somewhere everyday, what kind of parent are you? This is absolutely ridiculous, FYI! We think keeping them busy makes it so they don’t have time to make bad decisions, or get involved with the wrong crowd, or date, or do drugs. The problem is that they are not making the RIGHT decision either!!! So, when they graduate from high school and get out into the wide, wide world, they don’t know how to say NO, they don’t know how to deal with other peoples views, they don’t even have their own views or opinions because they’ve been told what to do and think their whole lives. Also, somehow sacrificing our happiness or our finances for our precious little pumpkins to stay in said activity, somehow makes up think we are being “better parents.” I know many people unhappy in their jobs, who won’t make a change because the finances might make it difficult for their children to be in said activity. Ummmm, listen Karen, I think your happiness is more important and also, not the best example me thinks.
I wish I had some amazing formula, list, outline, script, affirmation, video etc that would guarantee well-adjusted children. I don’t. And some will be fine even going through the above. If you are really defensive of this post, I am going to venture out and say you are over scheduling your pride and joy. Take a minute. Breathe. Think about who it’s for. Ask your children what they want to do. Find some balance. Give your children some chores. Make them do their own laundry. Let them have time to play!!
Your precious little pumpkin needs to practice, make mistakes, venture out, fail, fall, get up, deal with some real life issues, while they are home, while they are still young. They will have to do all these things eventually, it just gets so, so much more difficult the older they are. Let them be kids now, so they are successful adults later!!