The Balancing Act: Managing Your Kids’ Extracurricular Activities
Managing your kids’ after-school activities and finding a healthy balance can be a constant struggle for parents today.
Nowadays, kids are busier than ever before with sports, clubs, lessons, and more crammed into their schedules. As a parent, you want to allow your children to explore their interests but you also don’t want them to be overscheduled and stressed out. Use these tips to find a good cadence for your family when it comes to extracurricular activities.
Set Limits on Activities
Having limits and structure around extracurriculars can help reduce chaos and overscheduling. Decide on the maximum number of activities per child based on your family’s schedule. Avoid signing up for too many activities that overlap or require lots of driving around. Set guidelines around committing to an activity for a full season before quitting.
Prioritize Your Kids’ Favorite Activities First
Have your kids rank their activities in order of interest and importance to them. Focus on continuing the one or two they are most excited about before adding new activities. Try alternating seasons of different sports or activities. Monitor your child’s stress levels and adjust activities as needed.
Schedule Family Time Before Booking Activities
Protect time in your calendar for family dinners, movie nights, game nights, and other time together with no extracurriculars. Schedule this family time first before booking activities. Turn down activities that conflict with this prioritized family time.
Involve Your Kids in Activity Scheduling
Sit down together as a family to map out schedules and activities. Have your kids help research options, drive decision-making, and take ownership of their own schedules. Teaching kids time management skills and how to be more independent can make this process easier.
Set Family Goals to Help Select Activities
Identify 1-2 goals your family has around extracurricular activities – for example getting more exercise, learning a new skill together, spending more time volunteering. Use these goals to drive activity selection and make tradeoffs.
Communicate with Coaches and Teachers
Let all of your child’s coaches, instructors, and teachers know about their schedules and constraints. Don’t overcommit your child to their activity. Work collaboratively to adjust schedules when needed. Building strong parent-teacher partnerships can help with this communication.
Constantly Re-Evaluate Activity Load
Your family’s schedule should be fluid based on changing needs. What worked last semester might be too much now. Be willing to try new activities and drop existing ones if they aren’t working. Activities should enrich your lives, not stress you out.
Managing your kids’ after-school activities can be challenging. Finding the right mix of extracurricular activities takes trial and error. Stay flexible, involve your kids, and focus on balance. Protect family time when managing your kids’ busy schedules. With some structure and communication, you’ll find the cadence that fits your family best!