How Many Activities?

My daughter has a karate class right now. It was a perfect fit for our budget with my husband out of work – a free month! It has also turned out to be a great fit for my daughter. About the right amount of activity, plus lots of chances to yell. She loves it.

Better yet, her kindergarten teacher says she’s noticed the change for the better in her behavior.

This meets pretty nicely with our goal of regularly having our kids in an activity. Not multiple, as a rule, particularly during the school year. Just one.

I see a lot of her friends unable to come over to play without a lot of planning in advance because they have too much going on. We’re fortunate that she does have some friends who can play almost any time, but so often others can’t. It’s not so bad if it’s because the parents have to work; that’s just life, but it’s hard when the kids beg for weeks on end to have a playdate and can’t because their schedules don’t work.

On the other hand, keeping the kids active is really good for them. As I said above, my daughter behaves better in school. I think that part is due to the very strict discipline in the karate class. She has to focus whether she wants to or not in there, and there are few enough kids that the teacher notices little things.

And of course it helps to keep her active. With all we hear these days about the childhood obesity epidemic, keeping the kids active should be a priority, as should keeping it reasonable.

It can be tricky figuring out how many activities to sign kids up for. There are so many great options. Too many, however, and children lose that chance to be kids that most of us had growing up. You know, playing in the back yard, running around with friends, doing things without direct adult supervision and planning it all out themselves.

My daughter would love to take karate, swimming, dancing, acting, ice skating and just about any other class she sees in the local parks & recreation catalog. We have to pick and choose based on priorities and keeping things fun.

Putting limits on the number of activities is something parents should do, even with enthusiastic kids. It not only gives them time for fun, it keeps your own life saner. We all know parents who complain about the exhaustion from running the kids from activity to activity. Who have to get fast food for dinner because there’s no time to cook. Who scarcely have time for themselves because the kids’ activities take so much time out of their day.

Don’t let there be a rush to teach your child every possible skill you would like him or her to have. Overdoing it isn’t good for them, and especially in the case of sports can lead to injuries that will limit them lifelong. Take it a little easier and keep things fun.

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3 Responses

  1. This is an interesting question. Yes, part of me wants to teach my kids every skill possible. But I do realize that they need time with their friends, and just downtime at home, with nothing scheduled. Right now we are doing activities twice a week, and it works pretty well. Last year they had three, which felt like too much.

  2. Stephanie says:

    That’s one of the things I like about my daughter’s karate class. We get to pick the days we attend. They have the classes available 6 days a week, but we decide how often to attend. If we were pushing for a goal related to karate, we’d probably aim for more days attended.

    As is, 3 days a week works at the moment. It can be a bit tight at times, and if we keep it up I know there will be times that we go fewer days, but for now it’s good.

  3. Melitsa says:

    I totally agree with your post. Parents have so many pressures these days including no time to really research and learn what’s good for their kids. So we can be manipulated. As well as the usual pressures of keeping up and comparing themselves.
    If parents were able to get off the treadmill of the day, I’m sure many would welcome lots of changes in their lives, including not driving all over the place and lots of fast food dinners. But once you get started it’s so hard to stop as….what do you do with them ?

    We’ve not started activities yet , mostly as we’re new to the area and haven’t investigated well. But we’re looking into a few activities. As a family we’ve set some limits and some family things we want to achieve. We hope that helps us remember not to over schedule the little people.