Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How much is too much??

Growing up, I played sports in middle and high school.  Before that, I only participated in a few extracurricular activities.  I did a very brief stint in a Saturday morning dance class, but it was not my thing.  I played basketball on the optimist leagues in the winter.  I also took piano lessons beginning in third grade.  To the best of my memory, that's it until I got to middle school.  My brother played basketball, too, and little league baseball.  The "family schedule" was too crazy until my brother and I were at least in middle school.  Nowadays, however, it seems most kids are super busy before they even hit elementary school.  It's great that they have the opportunity to participate in so many activities, but I can't help but wonder how much is too much?

As a parent, I certainly want my girls to have lots of opportunities to experience new activities, explore their interests, and make new friends.  But where do we draw the line??  How do we decide which activities are worth the effort and craziness??  These are questions I have struggled with for the past couple of years.  

As the school year, and, therefore, the girls' current activities are beginning to wind down, the talk of activities for next year has already begun.  Here are their current wish lists for what they want to do next year:

Dance (she wants to be a ballerina and we have promised to sign her up this fall.)
Children's choir (through our church)

Soccer (She wants to play this fall for the first time and, if she likes it, can play again in Spring.)
Gymnastics or Dance (While we watch Rachel do gymnastics she wants to do gymnastics.  When Emily talks about dance, Megan talks about dance.  Otherwise, she doesn't mention it.)
Horseback Riding (She is currently doing this and it is a year-round activity.)
Children's Choir

Horseback riding (She has done this for the past three years.  Again, year-round.)
Gymnastics (She is doing this now and wants to continue.  Also, year-round.)
Children's Choir (She almost gave this one up this year, but changed her mind.)
Dance Team (through the elementary school)
Jump Rope Team (also through the school)
**This school year, we required her to participate in the Battle of the Books.  She does not want to do it again, but that is still a "point of discussion" if you know what I mean.
**She has also asked in the past to take music lessons -piano or violin.  We have delayed and she hasn't mentioned it lately.  Missed opportunity???

Like I said, I want them to explore new things and take advantage of the opportunities they have.   I almost feel guilty telling them no.  If they have interests, they should be given the opportunity to try them, right??  They are kids who are "finding themselves" and they can't do that if I stifle them.  Who knows - maybe in one of these activities they will find their special talent; a talent that could turn into a lifelong passion.

On the other hand, there's school and homework and church activities and family events and dentist/orthodontist appointments and PTA meetings and the list goes on.  Academics have to come first (in our opinion) and all this extra stuff is just that - EXTRA.  Not to mention, they I we need baths and meals, and sleep, too.  I already spend way too much of my life in the car and really don't want to add to that.  Also, since my hubby travels, I have to work all this out as if he is not here to help because often he isn't.

So, I would love to hear from some other folks on this topic.  What/how many activities do your kids do??  How do you juggle it all??  Do you feel guilty if you say no to something they want to try?  How do you decide which activities they can participate in?  And, of course, how much is too much???

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