Six signs your kids are overscheduled.

Six signs your kids are overscheduled.

Soccer practice, choir rehearsal, play dates, and piano lessons. Many children these days are constantly occupied with activity after activity, leaving little downtime for relaxing, creative play, or independent thinking.

Parents often feel the need to sign their kids up for all kinds of extracurricular activities because they don’t want their kids to miss out or feel left out, they want to live out their dream through their kids, they want to keep their kids out of trouble, or they want their children to excel at something. Most parents have good intentions and only want what’s best for their kids, but they don’t realize that kids need free time for healthy development.

While organized activities can teach valuable lessons such as self-discipline, hard work, and sportsmanship, sometimes the activities lead to increased pressure on kids, lack of time for friends, and exhaustion. Kids become anxious, stressed, lack creativity, and don’t know how to act independently.

If you fear your kids may be overscheduled, look for these six signs. Then be willing to cut things out of your busy schedule for everyone’s benefit.

First Sign: Grades Falling
Studying for tests and working on projects are hard when you don’t get home until late in the evening. Everyone is hungry and tired, but it doesn’t matter. The kids still have to finish the homework they didn’t get done in the car. Sometimes it’s either stay up late or wake up extra early to complete homework. One way to tell if your child is overscheduled is to look at their grades. It’s hard to keep good grades when you’re tired at school or don’t finish your homework. Most parents can agree that schoolwork takes priority over extracurricular activities.

Second Sign: Health Complaints
An overscheduled child will often complain of headaches or stomachaches. Stress and anxiety may be the cause of aches and pains. Sometimes kids may just not feel or act themselves. They may seem tired, irritable, or depressed, despite a good night of rest.

Third Sign: Friendships Suffering
Who has time to nurture friendships when you’re constantly on the go? A child who no longer seeks out friend time—whether it’s through phone calls, texts, or hanging out—may be overscheduled. Friendships are an important part of child development. Don’t let lessons, practices, and performances take their place.

Fourth Sign: Always Busy
When you see you kids during the day what are they doing? Are they always doing homework, practicing their instrument, at lessons, or traveling to an appointment? If so, then they are too busy. Kids need downtime to play and relax. Without it, their health and wellbeing suffer.

Fifth Sign: Lost Interest
When it’s time to leave for an activity, are your kids happy to go or do they complain and drag their feet? Extra activities are meant to be fun and enjoyable for kids. When they no longer are, don’t sign them up again next season.

Sixth Sign: Tired Parents
Shuttling kids here and there and sitting through practices and games can be exhausting for parents. When mom and dad are tired, it affects the mood of the whole family. Kids become needy and whiney and mom and dad just want a vacation. If you’re tired, chances are high your kids are too. Missed family mealtime and an inability to connect emotionally can take their toll on the health of the family and marriage over time. When you notice your family life suffering due to overscheduling, it’s time to reprioritize your schedule.