What qualifies as an overscheduled child? How many activities are too many?

Valerie - posted on 02/05/2012 ( 32 moms have responded )

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My three children have split homes. Their ages are 13, 10, and soon to be 7. There is currently a conflict between the father and I over the quality of life our children are experiencing revolving around which activities they might attend and how many days. All three are in Boy and Girl Scouts respectively. The oldest does martial arts and singing, the middle does gymnastics and the occasional chess class, and the youngest does piano and the occasional 9 week school sponsored program. I don't want to be the one who is overloading their time, but I also strongly feel they will gain so much from participating in group activities or involving themselves in groups of their peers. I would like to hear what kind of schedules other kids have to compare what mine are doing and get a better picture of "normal".

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Linda - posted on 02/06/2012

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Over scheduled kids are ones who have no down time to play and rest. Does your youngest have time to practice piano? Does your oldest have time to practice singing in addition to doing homework? As a teacher, I see kids come to school dead tired, making excuses for not doing homework because they have all these activities and are not doing well at any of them. Plus your children have the stress of split homes.



The question is not - what do other kids do - the real question is, How are YOUR kids doing with all these activities? Do they enjoy them, do they succeed at them, are they succeeding in school and getting their school work done? Or are they feeling overwhelmed and tired most the time? Do they have down time in their day not to play video or watch TV, but to relax and sit down to a family meal? Kids need family time more than they need too many activities.

Sherri - posted on 02/05/2012

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I already think that is way to much for kids. School should virtually be there only concern. Our rule is one activity per kid per season.



I think it is more important for kids to be kids and allow them to put all there time into school. On the weekends to have plenty of downtime and just be able to hang out without having to worry about being here, there and everywhere.

[deleted account]

Outside of school and church... the only structured activity for us is gymnastics. My 10 year olds are in the gym 2 days/week at 1.75 hours/day. My almost 4 year old is in nothing except 2 days/week of preschool.



I'm a big believer in 'less is more'. :)

Maree - posted on 02/05/2012

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life with having 3 kids,no matter how many sports they do... is going to be hectic.



I don't know if their dad is simply concerned about them doing too much...or if the concern is that it is taking up too much of "his parenting time with them"



Which is it???



I am very one sided with this...i am sure i am pretty much alone in my views but i am going to go ahead and say what i think anyway...



I think as Sherri said,one sport is plenty.

School should be their focus,then relaxation and down time,then sport.



When kids are in a split home situation...i am sorry but i do believe that life needs to change somewhat.

They may not like that their parents separated,that they may have to move homes,schools,have step siblings,step parents etc but the fact of the matter is...it happens.



If the dad only gets a day or two every second weekend,i honestly believe that his visits with them need to take priority over the sports. I'm not saying they should be removed from all activities but they need to be cut back if necessary to allow for them to have a relationship that is SEPARATE from all the sports. I don't think the dad should be forced to attend sport all weekend and have no other time with his kids just to "chill".... simply because you say so..



The main issue i have is mums putting their kids in sports after the separation with no consideration for what the dad may like the kids in...they claim it's all about what the kids want and i think that is very wrong...kids should have some input but not have all the say....if for example,a saturday is a bad day for the dad because there are more important things he would like for the kids to do then i think that should be the end of it....why is what YOU want for them,or even what THEY want...more important than what their dad wants for them...within his parenting time...especially if the time they have together is limited.



Valerie,would you like it if the kids dad decided all the activities and decided that YOU will take them no matter what plans you had....if everything he planned was apparently in their best interests....????



Is the problem that he had little or no input into what the kids were enrolled in?

Is it that he feels you are trying to fill up all his parenting time with things he didn't decide on?

Is he just concerned that the kids are too focussed on things other than school?



You didn't really go into that so i'd be interested to know what exactly his problem is with all the activities.

Tarese - posted on 02/12/2013

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I am also wondering if my 10 year old daughter is over scheduled. She has been figure skating for the past four years. She skates Monday through Friday from 5 am until 6:30 am. She takes ballet after school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. On top of that, school actually comes first. I want to give her every opportunity I can, but honestly I cannot say she is thriving. It is really hard. I think the question to ask ourselves is - is our child smiling and happy, do they have the sparkle in their eyes?

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Roberto - posted on 04/07/2014

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I have two children one is 7 and the other is 5 years old.

The 7 year old is in a reading and writing class on Wednesday and Saturday morning.
On Thursdays she goes to a reading club.
On Fridays she goes to a Math class.
On Saturday she has Acro and Swimming and Sunday is her rest day to do whatever she wants. That could be stay home and do home things or go watch a movie or just spend a day doing what she most enjoys.

The 5 year old goes to a Reading/writing on Wednesday and Saturday Mornings.
On Friday she has a Math class after school.
On Saturday she has swimming
On Sunday she has Ballet.

I know some might say that it is a FULL schedule and i am tiring my children but these are all things that they have picked and find interest in. They also know that school work comes first so if they have too much homework we skip one of their classes... So far we have only skipped maybe 2 extra curricular classes because of this.

I find these classes have helped them a lot more in their school work. One thing I would recommend is to be supportive of your child likes and dislikes... Don't force them to doing things agains their will becuase then they will grow up and learn to dislike their work.

My children are always very happy and eager to go to their classes because they meet other kids and they see the results from all these classes. They love the fact that at the end of Dance season they have a recital. They like to take part in their math competitions and they love that their grades have gone up in reading and writing...

When they are ready to stop with any of their classes i will be the first one to put a stop to it. I am still in a stage where i encourage them to tell me if they are overwhelmed and i don't get upset at them for stopping one class and chosing another one.

I know my children like what they are in and they feel happy everytime they go to their classses.

Janise - posted on 12/05/2012

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I grew up in a very unstructured family. Although my siblings and I turned out okay, I wish my parents had pushed us harder and provided more activities while we were kids. This is one of the things that my husband and I will be discussing and planning. We don't know yet but we will do whatever it is best for our kids and our family.

Linda - posted on 12/04/2012

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Personally, this is one of my favorite parenting topics: over-scheduling a child vs. providing opportunities to the child for enrichment and education. I have an almost 7 year old son who is currently in first grade. In my short journey so far as a mother, I have learned two main principles: 1) there are many ways to raise a child (ie. each family is different), and 2) we must pick and choose among the myriad of parenting books and experts out there as to which pertain most to our own families and values. In regards to over-scheduling, I will say this: I know how much I value my "down time." my personal quiet time when I am lucky to have it. I think, I plan, and I ponder, on not only issues pertaining to me, but for my husband, child, and friends and other family members. I reflect, and I wonder. I benefit from these moments, and I feel I am a better spouse and parent. I want my son to have these moments, too. I believe these are essential to his growth and development. If we are always rushing from one activity to another, how can I help him to achieve his full potential? Sure, he can show me how he is performing with his piano lessons or his basketball skills, but how can I, as his mother, show him how to value his own thoughts and ideas without providing him ample time to explore them? Hence, we limit his main activities to one major sport pursuit and piano, in addition to school. We make time for playdates so that he can learn to maintain and grow a friendship one-on-one. Most importantly, I make time for him, by talking, reading, playing cards, cooking together, etc. My husband talks about airplanes and technical projects with him. We ensure that he has time to read on his own, or to build with his Legos. We know that our impressionable time with him is short, until he is older and turns towards his peers more for his identity. As parents, we should not undermine our influence on our young folks. Let's keep over-scheduling under control, and make more time for each other.

Barbara - posted on 10/23/2012

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My kids have quite a bit of activities with sports and piano lessons but when they start to suffer getting their homework done or can not keep up with waking up early in the morning for school then one by one they will be elimated so far they are loving the sports and the piano lessons.

Tracy - posted on 10/14/2012

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Vivian - posted on 02/09/2012

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I don't think anyone is over active UNLESS you have to

force them to go OR if their school work is suffering. Just

as you and I do, children need down time to recoup or to

just do nothing. However, active children are truly happier,

and learn much about interacting with all groups of people.

Kim - posted on 02/07/2012

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I have one daughter (7) and she is in girl scouts twice a month and special events. We also have swimming once a week. What your kids are into sounds normal.

Katy - posted on 02/07/2012

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My 4yo goes to school 5 mornings a week and has ballet 1 day a week for 30min. My 1yo and I have a library class once a week for 30 min. I agree with only having 1 activity per season. In the summer, my 4 yo will probably be doing soccer again. Maybe when they are older we might add more, but that is plenty for now.



I love the social aspect of all the acitivies my kids have participated in.



I also feel that this schedule allows us lots of play/free time and time to go do fun things we normally wouldn't have time to do.

Alfreda - posted on 02/07/2012

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I have a 5 year old and a three year old. On Sunday morning the 5 year old has down hill ski lessons, for 9 weeks, we are half done and we are all counting down until it is over. She did this last year and really enjoyed it, but this year she also has aikido Mon and Friday evenings and I feel we are rushing all the time. I would like to cut down the aikido to one night a week, but she is moving from a montessori school to a public school in September and we are scared of bullying. I find though that she does not want to go to any of her activities now. I think it is because she has no time to herself to relax or play with her toys. I find this stressful as well.



I am very lucky to get off work at 3:30, but by the time I have picked up both kids at two different places, and get them home it is 5:00pm. My husband comes home at 6:30 so that is when we eat, but I still have to cook something for then. Then it is bed for the kids. On Monday and Friday I just throw together a sandwich, scrambled eggs, or ham and carrot sticks and we run to aikido. The rest of the days we try to go ice skating or sledding or play with the kids toys, but the time is so short I feel like we just start and activity and I have to run to get dinner ready. It does not feel like quality time. I think the real problem is having one whole weekday gone with the downhill skiing lesson since those are the only days we have together as a family. I don't know how parents with all those activities do it. I am off early, and only have two activities and I feel like we are drowning in stress. I just don't ever get enough time to just play with my kids.

Nicole - posted on 02/07/2012

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I have an 8 yr old daughter who has now been dancing (jazz, tap, and hip hop) and doing gymnastics for 5 years. I have a 4 yr old who also plays t-ball 2 nights a week. My 3yr old daughter is also getting ready to start dance and gymnastics. My kids also sign up for any extra after school activities when they are offered. I think the busier you keep your kids the less time they have to get into trouble. That and they gain so much working in groups with other children there own age.

Tammy - posted on 02/07/2012

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My 3.5 year old has a full schedule, with lots of play time. She goes to preschool 3 mornings a week. She also, has one 45 minute session of gymnastics, soccer, ballet and cheer a week and half hour of swimming. She has so much fun, that during winter break and other extended holiday times, she actually suffers from withdrawal! Come summer she will also be starting half hour a week piano lessons and her preschool will have violin as part of their curriculum.

Darlene - posted on 02/06/2012

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My 7 year old does football baseball basketball and track when they are in season and they often overlap. I don't feel this overloading him because he is still a very good student and a generally happy kid. I know when its too much because he stops giving the activities his all. Right now he keeps a schedule and has lots of socializing with kids his age. He is learning about time management and commitment. I think an active child is a happier one.

Valerie - posted on 02/06/2012

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Thank you all who have offered your input, I believe you have a valid and logical take on how active your children are. Yes children definitely need down time to play and be a child, and each child is different on how busy they need to be or not be. Their lives should prioritize school first and if they are getting that done, and able to handle an activity that they have expressed interest in then it should be ok for them. I certainly do not want to exhaust my children, I am a huge fan of spending time with them one on one and would never schedule them to the point of giving that up. I also believe they need time to just "play" outside of any structure or organization and I feel my children get that within my home.



As a previous poster put, having 3 children will make for a hectic schedule no matter what. I do believe that what I have tried to plan for my children does not exceed their limitations, and offers a little outside of the home, fun, learning and life broadening experience. I look forward to any more posts on this thread, but nothing I have read here makes me feel I am on the wrong track.



Linda I found your post very insightful and made me a little abashed I posed the question to the public. I certainly do know better that its about how my children are doing and not how other children are doing. However sometimes there is merit garnering opinion to validate your own, and your question, succinctly put, helped reveal my own answer even more. Thank you.

Lacy - posted on 02/06/2012

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Every household is different.



My son is almost 14 and lives the "split life" as well. His father and I have never lived together. From the time my DS was 4 until he was 12, he was in soccer. Practice 2 nights a week and games on Saturdays, and sometimes during the week. His dad couldn't make those games. He rarely missed Saturday games, unless for work. Sometime in there, we also did karate, but I think we kept it mostly during Summer. He did football in the fall and soccer in the Spring, until HE decided he just wanted Soccer. He has also played baseball and basketball, but not all at the same time. The first year of JR High, he played football and was in the band. He loves band, therefore continued it this year. Band sectionals every Tuesday until 5:30. And that is his only extra-curricular, as he chose AP classes this year and I'm on him to keep his grades up.



All the while, my 2 daughters(11 and 7) had their things. The oldest was in dance for a while. Then city drill team and cheer, and soccer(following in big bro's footsteps), finally ending with Volleyball, then back to cheer. The little one has been in soccer and cheer. Both girls have attended acting classes, as they love to act.



Not to mention church on Sunday and Wednesday.



I guess I said all that to say this, there is plenty of time in their lives to do all these things. Spreading them out isn't a bad idea. But that is strictly up to you, their father and your children. If the kids were already doing these things before the split, then he really needs to be open about them continuing. Maybe ya'll should all sit down together and decide when and what is too much for all involved.



Again, Every family is different.

Kay - posted on 02/06/2012

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I think it depends on the child and the family. For instance, in high school, there were those kids that could do gymnastics, cheerleading, student government, work part time and still pull a 4.0--they were just highly organized and thrived on being busy.



I think the best thig to do is to read your kids' cues and talk to the older ones. Kids need time to be kids, true, but I think personality plays a big role in how much time that is exactly.

Jen.sparkles - posted on 02/06/2012

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Way too busy. My kids are almost the same age. They need time to stretch out and utilize the short time they have left to be who they are..children.



I understand the frustration as well, I want my children to be trained in martial arts, learn to play piano & guitar, & definitely play sports, join clubs, etc...& I've done all of these "for"my children.



Problem is: if I'm shipping them off to their next event & ones scheduled every night of the wk@least, when am i raising them? They are in school more than half the day already& all have homework. What do i want to show them as far as what love means? I wish there were more days in a wk. Since there aren't, I let them choose one sport a year each, one extracurricular besides sports@a time, & that's it. In life we can't have it all. We have choices to make about what's valuable to us. I teach them the value of downtime & thats when our bodies heal. And I'm learning.



We want our kids to thrive & have it all. but having alot of everything takes alot of maintenance& is an avoidance of intimacy, I think. I don't think they will be as fulfilled as we hope. I think they'll be empty and warn out.

Leisa - posted on 02/06/2012

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Ops...I meant consecutively, not concurrently....sorry I was rushing out the door and didn't realize what I'd wrote! Life of a mom!

Leisa - posted on 02/06/2012

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I am a true believer in one sport per season. My 10 year old does competitive cheerleading, which she loves, and she practices three days a week. My eight year old son loves all sports and plays football, basketball and soccer but concurrently, not consecutively. Practices can range from one day to three days a week, depending on the sport, plus games. We are finishing up basketball season, and about to begin soccer. In addition, they both do enrichment tutoring one day a week for an hour. We're big believers in our children's education first, additional activities second. My children need down time, plus quality family time. Family time should take a precedent! Just my opinion....Good luck....

Lynn - posted on 02/06/2012

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It depends on your kids, and how they are reacting to their activities. If they don't want to go, are falling asleep at school or in the car, falling behind in their homework or grades, or asking to have more time to play with their friends, then it's too much. If they love their actitivies, want to go, and are handling it well, then keep going until they want to slow down.



We started my son in sports when he was three, and he's always had 2-3 sports, classes or activities going at once. My daughter wasn't as into them, and only did 1-2 things at once. They're ten and eight now, and asked to slow down, so they're only in swimming right now. They wanted more time to play with their friends, and the Wii and X Box.



Let your kids tell you what they should be doing, and if it's too much.

Gwen - posted on 02/06/2012

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That is TOO much, in my opinion. While they "gain much" from activities, they will "gain more" from dedicated family time and rest. 'Quality' also involves spending dedicated, one-on-one relationship time with your kids. Shuttling from activity to activity or yelling from the sidelines doesn't count. I don't understand why so many parents are willing to let coaches raise their kids? Personally, after working all day, I just look forward to picking up my daughter and spending time sitting around at home reading books, eating dinner together, etc. Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to activities, but 1 per child is plenty. They are kids, they need time to be kids...without pressure, expectations or rushing.

Medic - posted on 02/05/2012

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I have a 2yo and 5yo and we homeschool so keep that in mind. I will just tell you our weekly schedule. Mondays and Wednesdays he has karate for an hour, Tuesdays and Thursdays he goes to an inhome daycare because both my husband and I are in school those days, Wednesdays we go to a homeschooling group, Fridays are free, Saturdays he has Tap, Jazz and Ballet for 2.5 hours and our 2yo has daddy and me dance for 45min, and Sundays are free. When he was in public school he went to gymnastics Mon-Fri from 3-530, but due to a health condition we had to take him out of gym but that gave him time to go back to dance. He loves it, my husband and I totally support him. The second he said he didn't want to do something then he would finish up that season of it and we would be done.

Maree - posted on 02/05/2012

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i schedule 1 sport per seaon and only after school...never weekends as it interferes with my sons visits with his dad

Valerie - posted on 02/05/2012

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I didn't mean to make this a discussion about my ex.



My main concern is that he might have a point in over scheduling our children, and I would like to hear other people's take on what their kids do so that I may make my own comparisons and decide for myself if they are indeed crowded in their daily life. Certainly no one knows the entirety of my situation and can fully understand the intricacies of dealing with my ex and I won't expect you to side with me about it. I really am interested in hearing what other mothers schedule for their children.

Maree - posted on 02/05/2012

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I think the activities that are done during your exes parenting time should be up to him. I don't think it's right to put the kids into activities that he didn't agree to and expect that he take them....



Saying that,i do think they kids should do some of the activities they want to do but i think they should express this to their dad and if he agrees then he will take them.If he does not then it's bad luck.



Parents shouldn't be letting kids walk all over them and expect to NEVER be told NO....their dad doesn't need a reason to not want them in a certain sport other than he believes that it is best that they don't do them or that he has more important things he would like them to do...sport is not necessary and more than one sport can be excessive.



It's unfortunate that when couples break up,they tend to really hate each other and even disagree with each other more than they did when married.



That is why each parent has a certain amount of time each where they can and should make decisions for their kids without input from the other parent...



If it is not bad for them and they are not being abused in some way then i think what he is doing is fine,his reasoning might not be great but i don't think there is much you can do apart from allow your kids to discuss with him what they would like to do...he may listen to them !!!



Other than that,if you get them back during the week then it won't matter because they will be with you and it won't make any difference to him.

Michelle - posted on 02/05/2012

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My son is 11 and this is his schedule, he has made the decision to be in his activities and is committed to giving it his all. Mondays he has Jazz, and ballet for approx. 3 hours. Tuesdays he starts with lyrical at 5 goes to another ballet class then goes to tap ending at 8:00PM Wednesday he takes another lyrical class at 5:30 then attends an all boys class right after words. Thursday and Friday he has off as well as any weekend he goes to his dads as they live to far away to take him to his activities and his dad is not supportive of his dance. Saturdays he attends a stretch class and another ballet class. This schedule works for him but we have decided to cut back next season because he wants to start skiing.

Jodi - posted on 02/05/2012

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I guess my first question is, how many days a week are these activities taking up?



Personally, I think each child is different. My oldest, for instance, is 14, and he is CONSTANTLY on the go with his sport. It is something he wants, and he is involved in 2 different sports which require about 3 nights a week, and then for a game on the weekends. I know his dad (my ex) gets annoyed at any of these commitments interfering with his time, but it IS my son's choice, so he can just suck it up.



My youngest is almost 7, and she is totally different. She is a bit of a free spirit and prefers to have unscheduled time to explore. She really doesn't like to have a lot of commitments outside of school, so until now we have only had swimming lessons. Just this year, she is asking about drawing or art classes, and playing soccer, so I am looking into those for her. If she does these, this will take up 3 evening commitments a week. Her dad is my current husband, so we are both on board with this.



I think this is enough. 3-4 nights/days a week is plenty. It then leaves room for them to get homework done, do chores around the house, and then find time to be a kid and spend time with their friends, etc.



But as I said, that's what works for our family and our family's schedule. Everyone is different. And some children NEED these scheduled activities more than others.

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