Make Time for Everything Your Child Wants to Do
While at first your kids are content to pick daisies and play with sticks, it seems like before you know it they are full of ambitions you never could have expected. They want to be ballerinas, play the violin, and be on the t-ball team?? It really can be quite overwhelming. In fact, even doing one extracurricular activity well can be quite a challenge, when you’re considering school and work schedules as well. Here’s a plan for how you can help your child participate in as many things as reasonably possible. But keep in mind, this is different for every child and every family. For some, with a little careful juggling, four different activities might be able to be balanced, however, for others, it is best to just stay with one or two, and focus on quality over quantity.
1. Help them decide what things are most important
There are thousands of different activities your child might potentially participate in, and obviously it’s impossible for them to do everything. Now, there’s some things you’ve automatically written off the list… you probably aren’t planning to send your child as a foreign exchange student to the Amazon, for example. Aaaand…. you aren’t stressing about what your child might be missing out on if he did go to the Amazon, right? You’ve just accepted that it’s something that has too great a cost (money, time, and your child’s safety), so you’ve written it off the list and move on. Now it’s your job to help your child do the same. Have a talk with them about everything they are interested in, and what activities they consider the most important. From there, just start with their biggest goal– once you get into the groove, you might be ready to try a second activity.
2. Help them understand that to do those things, they’ll have to give up other, extra things
Now, your child might wonder why she can’t just try all her interests at once. Help her understand that every time you add something new to your plate, something else gets pushed off the backend. So, maybe he wants to join the soccer team, but that will mean he would have to get up earlier to do his homework in the mornings before school (thus losing sleep), or maybe she wants to take an art class, so you should point out that if you pay for the class, you won’t have as much money for new clothes.
3. Learn how to multitask
Once you’ve determined exactly what activities you will and won’t be doing, it’s time to put some brain power into figuring out what you can do while you wait. Because there will be some waiting that will happen. Maybe you can get some reading time in while your daughter’s at ballet practice, or perhaps you can answer your emails while your son has his cello lesson. While your son is practicing at home, maybe you can’t watch tv (too distracting), but perhaps you could get the dishes done, and then enjoy a show with him after you’ve both completed your tasks.
4. Do things with your child
One of the most significant things you may be trying to fit into your schedule– and keep there– is spending quality time with your child and family. The good news is, this doesn’t have to be a struggle! They very activities you are fighting against can actually be great ways to fit “together” time into your schedule. Some activities you might do with you child– such as an art or music class. Others, you might be able to help out– consider volunteering to help out the soccer coach.
When your child is practicing, or doing their homework for an extracurricular activity, that time doesn’t have to be lost either. Most kids LOVE to have a listening ear while they practice their songs. If your daughter is painting a picture, you certainly could join her. But also consider that you don’t both have to do the same activity. While your child does their homework, you could probably fold the laundry or fit in some bodyweight exercises.
5. Make sure your child gets plenty of sleep & good nutrition
However many activities your family decides is the right number, never put your child’s health or happiness at risk. Make sure that plenty of time is scheduled (and enforced) for quality sleep (and know that being busy during the day can actually help your child sleep well). Don’t make yourself so busy that McDonald’s is the only option– always leave enough time to prepare some real food together, sit down at the table, and join hands together.