I believe that my kids should do no more than 3 activities at a time. It's a number that makes sense to my family and my husband and I are going to stick to it. Now we didn't draw that number out of a hat or say hey three seems like a great number, we really thought about what we want our family life to look like. We were intentional in our planning so our schedule allowed for more than just the kids' activities. Three activities may not work for your family, you may need just two or four depending on your family size. But I do think every family should come up with a number and stick to it.
When our kids were younger we heard from our friends with school aged kids about how the kids' schedules rule their lives. Basically we were told to enjoy our free time now before our kid's schedules ruled our lives. We all know the parent that complains about how busy they are because of their kids' schedule. I'm sorry to burst everyone's bubble, but that is pure crap. You are the adult. You set the schedule. If it's really a problem, then say no. Your kids don't have to do something every single day, that was a choice you made.
Please know that I think it's important for kids to play sports, dance, take music lessons, or whatever it is that your child is interested in. I just don't think it's the most important thing for a child. I firmly believe that most kids are overscheduled and their parents are exhausted. My husband and I want our kids have down time. We do not want them running from activity to activity only to come home and rush through dinner, bath, and homework before they get to bed. We want to sit down and have dinner as a family. We want our kids to play in the backyard and have some unstructured fun. I've been told that makes us old fashioned, I'm OK with that.
These are my kids activities.
Isabella - 1. school 2. dance 3. Awanas
Mark - 1. school 2. martial arts (beginning next month) 3. Awanas
Molly - 1. school 2. Awanas
Yes school is an activity. Most parents don't include school but it needs to count. Not only do kids have homework every night but they spend most of their day in school, why wouldn't you count it?
I like our schedule since it means we are free 3 afternoons during the week and 4 evenings a week. This gives us time to be together as a family. I understand that there are many parents out there that think their kid needs to be enrolled in sports, music, art, dance, and a foreign language so they'll be exposed to everything.
Trying to expose our kids to every opportunity is a recipe for disaster. Not only is it expensive, but it's also unfair. In reality, the kids are given a multitasked, high stressed, adult paced life in lieu of a childhood. I don't believe cramming all those activities into your kids' schedule is worth missing out on a childhood and family time. You don't get these years back.
It's OK to say no to an activity. Is it easy? Of course not, but you are the one setting the tone for your family. Our kids know that if they want to try something new, it means something old has to be dropped. We sign up for the season and when the season is over they can resign up or try something new. Or in Molly's case, say you only want to do Awanas.
It's really simple, if you don't want to be so busy with your kids' activities, then start putting limits on what they can sign up for.