Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How many activities do your kids do?

I was reading an article in a family magazine the other day and it said that your kids should be involved in 3 activities at a time. One artistic, on athletic and one social. Their idea was to limit each child to 3 activities at once.

I quickly realized that we swing pretty far on the other end of the staying busy spectrum. We have usually done one activity at a time. And at different times we have tried a variety of activities.

  • baton twirling
  • swimming
  • ballet
  • gymnastics
  • music class
  • reading club
  • cheerleading (Upward program)
  • Precepts class
  • co-op for homeschoolers
  • tennis
  • art classes
I think I would have a hard time doing 3 activities per child. I think that it is important to find a balance in life. But I do think that our busy society encourages families to do too much. I can pass up the urge to join something, just so we are not left out. I know that there are activities going on that we are "missing out" on, but we also value our time at home. We need time to do our school work, take care of our home and our pet and just be home together as a family. I do understand that we have some limitations due to Tristen's health. She just doesn't have the same amount of energy as some other kids and her health does cause us to have to say no to some things.

But I wondered if your family has a rule of thumb about how much you let your kids do. How many activities do your kids do and does it "frazzle" you out?


cindy said...

We try to stick to one thing at a time. So far, Tucker has been interested in only soccer and tee-ball. This fall, we're hoping to add Cub Scouts. I agree with you that while it's important for kids to be involved, it's also important to just be home and be a family. When I was working, it was crazy just trying to get him to soccer or t-ball practice! I have friends who run crazy with dancing lessons and sports. Although I was an active child (gymnastics, dance class, girl scouts) and was always going somewhere. Now I don't know how my mother did it!

Stacia said...

I've always been of the less activities is better mindset. I don't want to be one of those familiies that spends more time in our mini-van than in our home. The temptation is always there... all good activities that everyone around you is letting their kids participate in. Last year (Sept- June), Emma took ballet lessons (guess that's artsy and sporty). For one semester she went to Rainbows with a friend (social and spiritual). This year she's doing a piano class, Music for Young Children, on Mondays. I signed her up for a 6 week soccer program to see how she likes it. We're skipping Rainbows, b/c it's too much. I'm feeling pretty balanced right now.... unitl I considered MOPS twice a month, homeschool bowling once a month, homeschool swimming, church activities... now I'm feeling like we do way too much. I decided to approach our first year of homeshooling with the attitude that school comes first and then we will see what else can comfortably fit...may be that we have to cut some things out. Thanks for the post, Cris, it causes us to think and pray about what "pace" is best for our families.

Salzwedel Family said...

As a rule we generally allow up to two activities. More than that times multiple kids gets to be too much & I start to feel like a taxi service.

We feel just being home as a family is important. They need to learn to just "be" and not expect to be entertained by activities all of the time.

Rachael said...

I definitely have a problem in this arena, but it is primarily with one child: my oldest, Kristen, who is 11, has a LOT on her plate. She takes both piano and guitar and is very faithful and diligent with her practicing, although as she becomes more advanced, the time commitment for practicing continues to be amped up. She also takes horseback riding lessons and Russian lessons. Now she has added afterschool intermurals (soccer) and band (percussion) to the mix for sixth grade. It's TOO much in my opinion. But, she's handling it well, and this is all entirely self-motivated, so what to cut? I've been looking to enroll Katya in gymnastics for fall, and Kristen said she wanted to do that too! I had to put my foot down and say, No, enough is enough! Yes, we definitely have a problem over here, but as long as no one is frazzled, we plug away.

(We do not have this problem with our other three, although they are younger. Katya does Russian and now will be doing gymnastics and off/on horseback riding. The boys don't have anything right now, THANK GOODNESS! :) We tried piano with Jack and he just wasn't ready.)

Amanda said...

Wow. For me that would be TOO much.

My son has two sports he plays in different seasons (baseball and basketball) and he takes piano lessons during the school year.

My daughter played t-ball and did cheerleading this year, and will be able to take piano in 2nd grade (our rule).

They both take art under me, every other week with a big group of kids.

That's enough to keep us hopping at any given time of the year.

fitncrafty said...

I have 3 kids, all three are involved in their appropriate level of scouts. My oldest that is 12 is also involved in fencing, which takes up a lot of our time! Occasionally we add a class or something, but it really needs to be something special. We are so busy all the time as it is, I can't imagine them each having 3 activities at once.

Susan said...

I would assume home school kids (but maybe not mom) have a bit more time to do extra activities...and maybe it's good for them to get the outside stimulation and relating with others...?
Since we are only in the States this 1 year, we feel like we have to pack it all in, since this is our one chance to do Amerian sports and offered activities. My 9th grader is in football and it totally sawallows up ever spare minute, althoug he gets to HS boys Bible study. My 6th grader is in upward b-ball and school volleyball. My 4th grader is in upward b-ball. I just said "no" to an instument to him, but would like to get him into swimming...? It's really hard to know what is the right amount...everything gets pricey too!! I think as the boys get older, we are busier really. From 2:45 - 6:30 is taxi- mom-time. They are taking a break from piano lessons this year, but we will start that again next year I hope. Also, it goes in seasons...fall will be busy and then taper off when the fall sports are done in November...then maybe one sport each again in the spring when baseball starts?? I always say I want our life simpler and less busy, but now is a busy time. I also want our kids to learn to entertain themselves at home (not with the wii)...I don't want them to think they need to always be entertained. Now that it is cooler I hope we get out on family bike rides and such.

Julie said...

The big one for us is Theatre and all three are involved in it, and are now all in the same class. That is artistic, social, and athletic (lots of dancing). They also all three go to AWANA (around the corner from us and all there together). When homeschool PE starts all three will do that as well. While we tend toward the busier side of the spectrum, they generally all do the same thing, which is not bad considering there is a 7 year age difference between the three of them. We'd never be able to do this much if they were interested in DIFFERENT things or if we didn't homeschool.

Sherry said...

We are doing piano and swimming, and for a short two months, upward basketball. They all do the same thing. It keeps me almost sane. I still find it is a lot...most of the time. Can't imagine doing any more! Oh, I forgot, Charlotte, the oldest is also involved in two bible studies. One is more fun and social, the other more serious and focused. I think they are both important for her right now. So, I try to remember, this is a busy season and try to be efficient and prepared (ie; with dinners). I'm not always successful though!

Ginny said...

Right now both boys are taking piano lessons. This is one day per week, and their 30 min. lessons are back to back at my friend's house who teaches them, so not bad. Outside of this they just aren't interested in sports yet (and I am glad for that-I am not ready for a bunch of running around). I do take them 5 min. down the road to the public school for art and music class as well (they are enrolled as part time students-but Keats just takes art-and then Seth takes art one day and music another)but this isn't such a big deal.
I couldn't handle doing more than this though.

Anonymous said...

I agree! One at a time is more than enough for us. Right now we have 3 in soccer and 4 in twirling.

I don't think kids need as many activities as we think.

Smith Schoolhouse said...

I have to say, due to financial strain, we have never really done much extracurricular. We only do the cheap or free stuff, like homeschool PE, park days, skateboarding and basketball on the driveway, riding bikes in the neighborhood, art at the school table, reading everywhere, singing praise songs in our living room while Daddy plays the guitar, church several times a week- actually the kids witnessed firsthand over the past few years how to pioneer a church, Precepts, Keepers, visiting the library, family vacations.

The list goes on.. there are times of doubt whether we have made the right choices and whether we have given our kids enough opportunities to discover their interests... BUT I really don't have any regrets when I see the smiles on their faces and get the compliments in public. They are great kids and they bring joy to the world- what more could I ask for?

Anonymous said...

This year has found us really scaling back on activities. I found myself so stressed out at the end of last year. When we'd need to be out of the house at a certain time to make it to an activity, I would be in a rush, and the kids would feel rushed, and therefore could not concentrate as well. There were a lot of tears, and I was turning into a Mommy I didn't like. This year, our only outside activity is an art class once a week. We skipped soccer this fall (mainly because of JD's recent surgery), and shockingly even skipped co-op this year. The classes offered just weren't worth missing a day of school! We still get together once a week with another family for history lessons, and with 2 families twice a month for science activities. But my main focus is getting my boys a solid education. I refuse to compromise the 3 R's for the sake of extra activities. Especially with remediating JD with his dyslexia this year, we really treasure our quiet, unrushed, learning environment at home. And the boys (and I) are thriving from it so far this year!

Christy said...

Right now we have all three in baseball and one in boy scouts. Soon we will be adding music lessons and that will be about it for us. Too many activities just makes me grouchy.

Major Mom said...

One at a time, thats it. It is not so important to us. My kids are doing riding and karate. I believe in letting kids be kids. Playing, school and hanging with mom.

K-Sue said...

The blog, "just call Me Jamin'" has a discussion of just this kind of thing, comparing activities to building friendships.

When you are a HOO (homeschooling only one), the dynamics are a little different. Earthgirl loves having a chance to learn and play with friends and loves her other teachers. She does not have opportunity to be best friends with a sibling. So we go maybe a little more than if I were juggling a double handfull of children.

We have activities that happen during traditional school hours, and I consider and plan for them as part of curriculum. Even piano lessons (and music is definitely part of our curriculum) take place while most of her school-going friends are still at school, and under a sweet Christian lady who I want as a teacher for my daughter. If I feel Earthgirl is falling behind, we can rein back.

We do very little non-church after hours activities - just Upwards soccer for the next few weeks, then probably nothing else until winter.

Mrs. Moon, I can hardly believe we won't see you and boys at Co-op :(

pearly1979 said...

We try to limit them to two things, but it is contingent on behavior, chores, and school. (Not necessarily in that order.) As they get older it might get hard to stick to that!