Are you worried that your kids are overscheduled? Here are 5 warning indicators that super busy kids’ stress might be a problem. If you are spending too many hours in the car shuttling them or waiting for them in the gym, choir hall or swimming pool, you should re-assess the situation now.
Preschoolers 3-5 yrs old can also be overscheduled
Yes, these tiny ones need a snooze in the afternoon so just in case you thought they should be active, take a step back! The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences got some surprising results.
They found that if they were allowed to sleep a little (1 hr.) in the afternoon, they did much better on certain visual-spatial tasks afterward. Playdates and swimming lessons can wait. Who wants an overscheduled preschooler already showing symptoms of stress?
Ways to avoid overscheduled children
A lot of these kids have far too many things on their plate so the result is that they may be suffering from stress. Childhood is about playtime or should be. Children need downtime just like the rest of us. I know some mothers and fathers who just let their offspring choose one sport.
As for choir practice, they do not volunteer if it is going to interfere with the dinner schedule. Some parents insist that the piano teacher comes to the house so that journeys in the car are kept to a minimum. These are simple precautions to take to avoid overscheduled children.
Is dinner time sacred?
Some parents insist that everybody eats together and that this is an important ritual. Some people make this a priority. But in some homes, it is just impossible because of overscheduling. It is hopeless trying to organize everyone so that you can all eat together. Here are some possible solutions:-
- Choose two or three evenings when it IS possible. They can’t be that overscheduled.
- Pick a theme so that children warm to it. Pizza night or Chinese or whatever. Better still, if the children are involved in some of the preparation etc.
- Weekends are usually easier to organize family dinners.
- Parents try to aim for a happy medium between rushing everywhere like mad spinning tops and the other extreme where everyone is talking or texting and watching too much TV!
5 warning signs that you have overscheduled children
- Kids show stress symptoms in subtle ways so that they are frequently sick and miss practice etc. They become tired and irritable.
- Notice your calendar and if it is a mess of circled dates, then it is really a good idea to cancel some activities because of overscheduling.
- Their academic achievement is dropping and they find homework too tiring or demanding. They are not interested in the activities they used to be so keen on.
- Their best friends are less and less on the scene. They are just not as present as they used to be
- Your family car has become a taxi. You are spending far too long shuttling the kids from A to B.
Look out for these signs. I know some families where the rule is one sport and one musical activity.