Overscheduling. All the parenting magazines and parenting experts and parent groups say it's bad for kids. Everyone says loading up on too many organized activities leads to too much stress and not enough family time. Everyone yearns for the carefree childhood of long ago, when kids simply played in the yard all afternoon.
Everyone, it seems, except my daughter.
Check out her daily afterschool schedule:
Monday: Volleyball, Ballet, Jazz
Wednesday: Volleyball, Ballet, Jazz
Friday: Physical conditioning for volleyball
Each volleyball session lasts 90 minutes. Each dance class lasts 1 hour. The Friday conditioning sessions (1 hour) are optional, but she wants to attend them all because she wants to build up her cardio endurance and strength.
She also attends 3 school clubs -- Cupcake Club, Movie Club and Japanese Club. Each of the clubs meets at lunchtime, every other week. Oh, and she has a part in her dance school's annual Nutcracker production, so she will have rehearsals every weekend until December.
Somewhere in between, she wants to find time to read, hang out with her friends and have sleepovers. Not to mention doing her regular chores and homework.
Is her schedule crazy, or is it flat-out crazy? Should I be pilloried for putting The Pea through so much stress?
But here's the thing -- it's what she wants. This schedule is her making, not mine. Okay, I did have a hand in it; I am the parent, after all. The Pea is a bookworm, so if I kept her at home all afternoon, all she would want to do is read, so the truth is, I'm happy to sign her up for an hour of physical activity every day. The dance part is manageable. And I signed her up for volleyball assuming that she would only be attending practice twice a week.
I didn't anticipate The Pea actually wanting to attend all 4 volleyball sessions. I didn't anticipate that their volleyball coach would add conditioning sessions on Fridays (which we had deliberately kept free). I didn't realize she had signed up for so many school clubs. And I didn't realize that her Nutcracker part would require twice the amount of rehearsal time as the part she did last year, and the year before.
When I suggest cutting back a dance class or two, skipping a volleyball practice or two (How about just one activity per day, dear?), it is always met by resistance. She doesn't want to give anything up. She insists she is not stressed, and her friends are in the same activities, so it doubles as social time.
I have thought long and hard about putting my foot down and getting her to lighten her load. I think I will let things ride for a bit. I'm watching her closely, looking for signs that she's about to come apart. So far, there aren't any dark circles under her eyes. Her grades are almost perfect (most of her mistakes are due to carelessness, not from a lack of understanding of the subject matter). She still manages to read several books a week and watch her favorite Disney TV shows. She's actually a lot more organized and put together than she was last year. So for now, her crazy schedule can stand. Maybe she's just one of those Type-A personalities who thrives on a packed schedule. I guess it's good training for future US presidents, right?
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