Granted, I was a John Hughes-certified misfit, with a social calender that left time for Dungeons & Dragons and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screenings. Still, it’s amazing what my sons experience during a typical week.
The park. The zoo. The aquarium. The science museum. The ice skating rink. The amusement park. The water park. Soccer practice. Swimming lessons. Gymnastics. Monkey Bizness. Chuck E. Cheese (home to the earth’s worst pizza).
That’s just a partial list.
My wife calls these outings “adventures,” a term meant to spike the boys’ interest. Our daytime sitter tackles some of these “adventures,” but the wife and I split the rest.
Is it too much?
I won’t know the full answer until they’re 18 and heading off to college or their first apartment. For now, the answer seems to be, well, yes. Every outing exposes them to new people, new challenges and new ways to see the world.
Still, scheduling activities for your children is like managing a healthy marriage. It takes communication, a sense of your partner’s needs and the ability to switch gears at a moment’s notice. Here are five signs you may need to dial down the adventures and focus more on some quality home time.
- You’re Fighting More with the Missus: Marital scrapes have a number of causes, but when one or both of you spend too much time shuttling your kids from A to Z it takes a toll. Chances are your conversations will grow terse and you’ll pick fights over silly matters as a result.
- Yawn …. What Else You Got? Children should appreciate the time and effort required to tackle each adventure. If that starts to wane, perhaps it’s time for a heartfelt talk combined with a break in the action.
- Weekend Burnout: You shouldn’t slump onto your couch Sunday night more exhausted than you were at 5:01 p.m. Friday. Weekends brimming with adventures are a wonderful thing. Schedule one too many, and your free time becomes an exhausting blur that makes you a lesser parent.
- You’re More Excited than Your Children: It’s easy to forget why you’re dragging your kids all over the neighborhood in the first place. It’s not about your secret desire to be an ice skating champion or to revisit your love of zoo life. If your children aren’t relishing the experience or gaining insights from it, cross it off the list.
- Your Budget is Taking a Hit: The local park can be just as joyous as a trip to the zoo and it doesn’t cost a penny. It’s easy to get caught up in the activities cycle, particularly when your overhear parents extolling the virtues of little Timmy’s karate class or Sue’s absolutely essential kid yoga sessions. Keeping up the Joneses isn’t just about getting a fancy new car when you don’t need one.