The Over-Scheduled Child (Or Is It the Over-Scheduled Mother?)

Me: "Honey, we're overscheduling him."
DH: "What are you talking about? He loves these classes, and gets to see his friends!"
Me: "But he wakes up early to go to school, and by the time we get home from afterschool activities, we basically only have time for dinner and homework before it's time for bed."
DH: "Great- that means he's not watching tv."
Me: "So, when does he play outside?"
DH: "Doesn't he have 2 recesses a day at school? And he plays outside all weekend whenever it's nice outside. Actually, I've been thinking that we should get him into a team sport on Sunday mornings."
Me: "Are you kidding me?!!? If I have to drive this kid to any more activities, I'm going to lose it. Between getting the kids ready for school and barely getting to work on time myself, rushing to pick them up before the daycare closes and keeping track of karate, Saturday school, etc., I don't know if I can handle anything else."
DH: "So it's not that we're over-scheduling him, it's that we're over-scheduling you."

Looking back at this conversation, I see how I was projecting my frustration with balancing my child's schedule onto him. I do believe it's possible to over-schedule a child, and at the first sign of "activity-fatigue", I believe it's essential to back off on the extra-curriculars.

However, for many years, there's been an outcry over the "stressed child", even more so now with all the "Tiger-mother" controversy. But you know what? Little kids are great at handling stress- in fact, probably better than adults. This is because they know their limits- when they're tired, they fall asleep. When they're frustrated, they cry. It's the adults that force ourselves into situations we can't handle. I now wonder if some of our parental anxiety over our kids' schedules is actually rooted in anxiety over our own inability to "keep up the pace".

Our family's compromise? Son #1 can join another activity if he wants, but Daddy has to take him!


  1. Ooh, overscheduling. Always a tricky area in parenting. Does he thrive on his current schedule?

  2. Suzy, thanks for posting! Son #1 is currently doing well with his current schedule, and really does enjoy his extracurriculars. Next year, when he transitions from half-day to full-day elementary school, things may change!


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