5 Signs You’re Over-Scheduling Your Children

Benjamin ice skatingOur sons do more in a week than I did in my senior year of high school.

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.


    • Christian Toto says

      We took our children ice skating four times in five days (until our recent crazy cold weather), so yeah it’s a reminder especially to me!

  1. says

    I understand the reason some parents do that–giving kids all the once-in-a-lifetime opportunities they can have, so they can realize and pick what they’re best at. They don’t like piano? How about soccer then?

    So I understand, but I also feel like too many parents try too hard. Do one thing at a time. Try piano lessons. Doesn’t work? Try soccer. Or try walking around the block and get to know neighbors. Or run around the park. Sure, kids love to go to the science museum because of the buttons, but they also love helping you make food at home. It’s Sunday–take a freakin’ break, people!

    • Christian Toto says

      Agreed! My children do get spoiled with all our adventures. I’ve also seen parents who have their kids in football/soccer/lacrosse/etc … I’m exhausting just rattling off all the activities.

  2. Zeke says

    My biggest problem was the Bitthday Party Circuit. Finally I made an executive decision to only attend parties whose parents we have a better then average relationship with. That cut the parties to well below half. We have our weekends back. We adhere to a strict bedtime schedule throughout the weekday. We are usually done and home no later them 7pm. Took my wife some time to get on board. Now we have the energy to enjoy each other much earlier in the evening.

    • Christian Toto says

      Good advice, Zeke. We don’t have a crush of birthday party invites … yet. But I’m guessing that’s our future, too!

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