Is your child too busy and over-scheduled? You may be surprised to discover that the answer to that question is “Yes”. Children with conscientious parents are often too busy and over-scheduled. And over-scheduling is not good for the children.
When there is too much to do and too little time – there is just one tool that can ensure that everything gets done. And that magical tool is called a schedule.
Families invariably have too much to do. And so almost every family runs on a tight schedule.
Why do children need schedules?
Life is busy. Adults often have too much to do in too little time. And a family schedule ensures that these busy adults are able to justice by their children.
A schedule ensures that conscientious parents are able to pack their children’s lives with fruitful activities and enriching experiences.
Why do parents pack activities into their children’s lives?
As caretakers of growing brains and growing bodies – parents feel responsible for the welfare of their little ones.
If you are a parent – I am sure you have heard that neurons erupt in the brain of your little one at a rapid pace in the childhood years. And I am certain that various sources have told you that 90% of your child’s brain will have grown before the age of 5 years.
With the brain growing so rapidly and with all that you want her to learn, several times – childhood seems too short to accommodate everything. And so you pack her life with activities and experiences. You plan your child’s days and you schedule every minute of her time. You move her from class to class – activity to activity and experience to experience with the noble intention of ensuring that she doesn’t miss out.
When do schedules begin to go wrong?
Schedules are created with the intention of keeping children busy. But sometimes they keep children so busy that children actually miss out on their childhood. They become spectators in their own lives. They have no control over what happens in their life. And that is when schedules go wrong.
How busy is too busy?
Busy is wonderful. But too busy can be dangerous and damaging.
The difference between a child who is busy enough and a child who is too busy is not difficult to see.
A toddler busy trying to gather pots and pans to cook up something is mesmerizing to watch. There is an energetic happiness in every action made by his little body and a look of intense concentration and focus on his innocent face.
But the sight of a toddler being dragged from playschool to dance class to birthday party is heart wrenching. There is an exhausted reluctance in every movement of the little body then. And a look of tired boredom on the unhappy face.
Is your child too busy or over-scheduled?
If you find you are saying one or more of the following things too often to your child – it is possible that your child is over-scheduled and it is time to rethink her routine.
- “Come on – come on – quick – quick”
- “No no – we can’t do that now”
- “No – not like that – do it this way”
- “No – why do you want to do that?”
What to do if your child is too busy and over-scheduled?
If you find yourself saying “Come on – come on – quick – quick” all the time recognize that you are rushing your child.
You are being compelled to rush your child because in your enthusiasm to enrich your child’s life with skills and activities – you have over-scheduled your child.
If the routine you created to keep your life organised and in control – has taken over your life – you need to slow down.
Here is what you should do – If plans that looked like fun when you made them – have made your life so hectic that they are no longer fun and exciting – unhesitatingly cancel them. If fun looks like too much tiring work – don’t feel bad about not having fun.
Without any guilt pull your child out of that hobby class at a distant location. It may be the best – but it’s not right for your child – right now Every child is different. Just because all the other kids are doing something – your child doesn’t necessarily have to do it right then too. The experiences will be right there when he/she is ready.
If you find yourself saying “No no no …..we can’t do that now” all the time, recognize that you are not allowing your child to live creatively enough.
Parenting a child is an opportunity to live creatively. To do what you have not done before – to experience what you have never experienced before.
We can live at our creative best if we listen to our children. Children prompt us to live creatively when we least expect it, but we often have so much planned for them already that we refuse to follow their lead and live creatively.
Here is what you should do – Never allow routines to stand in the way of spontaneity and exciting experiences.
Even if it is dinner time – indulge your child and watch the little dance your child has been practicing all evening or allow the magic trick your child wants to try on you. It will only take a few minutes to watch and applaud after all.
Many a times in order to give in to your child’s plan – you may need to change your plan a little – but if the plan you have – is important only by virtue of being your plan – then can there be any harm in changing it a little?
Flexibility is one of the most important parental qualities. Make sure you are flexible
If you are always correcting your child and saying “No – not like that – do it this way” you are not allowing your child to live to her full potential.
As parents we are responsible for teaching our children how to do things the right way – but when we correct children all the time – we could be turning into helicopter parents who are falling into the trap of Hyper parenting.
As adults we think we know the best way to do things and we are often determined to train our children to do things our way. But it is important to give children a chance to their way – because that is how new discoveries are made and new things are invented. If we had continued doing things the way our parents said they must be done – we would still be in the stone age.
Here is what you should do – As adults we already have so much on our plates – that we can’t possibly have things being done any which way all the time. Before we begin to do something any which way – we need to factor in the messes that we will need to clear afterwards.
But sometimes – just sometimes – children should be given the opportunity to do things a certain way “just because” they want to do it that way. It helps build self-esteem and confidence.
It is important to do things the right way and to stick to routines but when routines begin to stand frequently in the way of spontaneity and fun – it is time to rethink them.
If you are always asking “No – why do you want to do that?” You are stifling your child’s personality.
Childhood should be filled with a variety of experiences – and as conscientious parents that is what we strive to ensure for our children. That is why we rush them from class to class and activity to activity. Then why do we clamp down when our children want to create these experiences for themselves by using their imaginations?
A child’s creativity needs room for expansion. And it should not be necessary for a child to give you ten good reasons why he wants to do something whimsical.
Here is what you should do When you are parenting to build your child’s creativity, his self-esteem, his confidence and his decision-making skills Instead of asking “Why” you should say “Why not?”
It is important to encourage creativity. Children learn by being creative and imaginative. If there is no good reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to do it – why not allow children go ahead and have fun?
A new idea – tried tested and proved successful can be a tremendous boost to your child’s self-esteem in addition to being a hands on learning experience.
If it is your child’s jam packed schedule that is keeping you from saying “yes” to new ideas – definitely rethink the schedule.
When you schedule your child – remember this
Adulthood will last forever. Childhood is short-lived – make the effort to preserve it
Don’t rush children into tomorrow. Let them live in the moment. Permit them to keep you there too. In your child’s company – sometimes give yourself the permission to be whimsical, laid back and relaxed. Let your child surprise you. Let your child become who she is meant to become.
Don’t suffocate children with the fears and pressures of the adult world and force them to compete and succeed. Keep your child safe from concerns and preoccupations of the adult world for long enough to build the confidence and skills he requires to tackle them.