Keeping kids busy has developed into a very profitable pastime. Between sports, music lessons, and clubs, we’ve invented an activity suited to every child’s taste and many parents are quite willing to spend the money on those activities to keep their kids occupied and out of trouble.
Keeping kids busy can be addicting. It’s one thing to offer your kids opportunities to grow and learn; it’s quite another to keep them scheduled all day and after school every day, and even into the evening. In the effort to keep kids out of trouble because they have too much time on their hands, parents have gone way overboard in the other direction.
For the most part, though, parents usually just want what is best for their kids. However, even with good intentions, kids can quickly become over-scheduled.
Keeping Kids Busy: Have You Fallen into the Busy Trap?
You have if:
- You never see your kid just doing nothing. Every child needs time to just be a kid and be challenged to figure out what to do if he is bored.
- What used to be fun isn’t anymore. It’s one thing for your child to complain about one activity, but if he complains about everything that used to be fun for him, you may want to think twice about his schedule.
- Your child is irritable. Scurrying from one activity to another with little time off drains a kid.
- Family mealtimes have disappeared. It’s one thing to miss a couple, but if you can’t manage to sit down 3-4 nights out of the week together as a family, then you are missing some very valuable bonding and conversational time.
- Your child feels tired, anxious, or depressed.
- Your child complains of headaches and stomachaches, which could be from stress, missed meals or lack of sleep.
- Your child falls behind on schoolwork and/or his grades drop.
- Your child doesn’t have time to hang with her best friend.
- Your child doesn’t have time to be at family gatherings and events.
Why are you doing it?
Why are parents falling into the busy-ness trap? If your child is getting nothing more out of his schedule than just “staying busy” or “staying out of trouble” then it is time to re-examine his schedule and why have filled it to the brim.
Is it an parenting ego thing? In today’s society, being busy signifies success and importance. People often brag about their busy-ness, as if it were a social status.
Is it a “stay out of jail” thing? Some parents feel that if kids aren’t kept in a structured activity, they will get into trouble in their free time.
Is it a don’t-miss-out thing? Perhaps you know parents who feel that their kids will miss out on experiences if they aren’t doing what all the other kids are doing.
Parent, it’s time for you to re-evaluate why you are signing your kids up for activities. If your motives are purely to give him an opportunity to grow, have fun, learn a new skill, get exercise, or make friends, that’s a good thing. But your child should not be booked solid every day of the week from school’s-out to dinner.
You will only have your kids at home for a short time. Keep the scales balanced so that your kids have time and energy to really enjoy the activities they do have and the people in their lives.
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