We all want our children to reach their full potential, explore opportunities and try as many new things as possible. We all just want what is best for our kids. But even when intentions are good our kids can easily become over-scheduled.
And while it’s great to offer our kids these amazing opportunities sometimes our kids get stressed and tired, and the continuous round of hectic activities can leave them (and us) physically and emotionally drained! So does your child have too much on and not enough time to do it all? Are they actually able to enjoy life along the way?
Signs that my child is over-scheduled: Each child will react differently but the first step is awareness! Without it we cannot change anything and might be blind to the signs. Check in with your child as often as you can and maybe ask them how they feel about their various activities.
Look out for signs such as:
- Sleeping patterns: feeling tired all the time. They might not be able to sleep (due to being over stimulated), or they might want to sleep ALL the time.
- Mental state: anxious, depressed, crying a lot, quick to tears, seem to give up when meet any small challenges.
- Physical symptoms: complaining of headaches, stomach pains etc.
- Eating patterns: loss of appetite, over-eating etc.
- Impact on school work: falling behind on their schoolwork, seeing their grades drop, maybe they don’t want to go to school, have melts down about exams or home work.
- Their social life: Maybe they are so tired that they don’t want, or have time, to be with their friends. Or they don’t have time to just ‘be’ and ‘hang out’ without having to attend a class, perform etc.
- Family life: Are you missing out on family meals due to driving to and from activities? Is there always one parent missing due to a child’s commitments? As a result the family is slowly growing apart.
- And also be aware of how YOU are feeling: Are you spending too much time driving, complaining, criticising or feeling exhausted? This WILL have a negative effect on your child (and overall family) and something will have to give!
- Keep in mind your child’s personality: If you have an introvert child he/she might have a huge need to be alone for part of the day and have some time to re-energise to avoid becoming overwhelmed, stressed and hyper. We might think that we are helping our introvert child to become more extrovert, but what is wrong with being an introvert? There is nothing wrong with wanting and needing time alone without always having to be around other people and be entertained. Work with your child to find the best solution for THEM
Some suggestions that might help:
- First of all become aware of the above signs in you, your child and overall family life.
- Agree what is enough for your child: discuss together how many activities and clubs your child can do to find a balance that sits well with you AND your child. Maybe it is one sport per season and one after-school club etc.Don’t just give them the answers and make a decision for them, try to problem solve together: ‘What do you think is enough’? ‘Can you manage it all’? Etc.#
- Allow ‘downtime’ every day: make sure your child has some time every day where there is nothing on. Where he/she will have time to just be and open up imagination and creativity and new ideas. Your child will not be able to cope if it is always school, activity, homework then bed. They need some time to just BE.
- Days with nothing on: make sure you have days where you don’t have to drive your child around and your child just comes straight home after school.
- Keep a family calendar: this will help you all to see what is on and become aware if the diary becomes too full and leaves too little room for ‘empty space’.
- It’s OK to miss out once in a while: if you feel that your child is not coping, too tired or you see any of the above signs then allow them to miss a session. Don’t push them to the limit. But also see it as time to connect, maybe you can enjoy a nice sunny day outside or just hang out at home together without an agenda.
- Prioritise family and one2one time: keep an eye on balance, make sure that activities and clubs don’t sacrifice too much time as a family (meals etc.) or time for the child to connect. If this is the case, add to your calendar ‘family time’ or ‘special time with Lucy’ etc.
- It is OK to say NO: if you feel that your child already has enough on but then asks to join another club or activity then trust that you know your child and say NO. It is great that they want to try new things but not if it sacrifices downtime and relaxation space.
- Be a role model: are you always on the go, multi-tasking? Then lead by example and make sure that you have some time every day to sit and enjoy the silence, have a quiet cup of tea, take a walk in the garden etc. Summary: Take a moment to think about your child’s life. If it’s hectic and stressful with lots ‘on’ every day then sit down together and decide where you can cut back to create some balance.
With best wishes, The ParentingSuccess Team