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  • Writer's pictureDena Lampert

When Daily Structure Becomes Overscheduling

In our fast-paced society, it has become increasingly common for parents to schedule numerous activities for their children. Sports practice, music lessons, art classes, and tutoring are some of the extracurricular activities that are often seen as beneficial for a child's development. They provide opportunities for socializing, learning new skills, and exploring various interests.

However, it is important to understand that there can be a point where this daily structure becomes too much and ends up in overscheduling. As pediatrician, Deb Lonzer aptly puts it, "Kids whose time is overly organized don’t have time to be kids, and their family doesn’t have time to be a family."

In this blog, we will delve into the potential downsides of overscheduling and explore strategies to find a healthy balance.

The issues with overscheduling

While extracurricular activities offer numerous advantages, overscheduling can have detrimental effects on children's well-being. Here are some reasons why:

Burnout: When children are constantly rushing from one activity to another without sufficient downtime, they become overwhelmed and exhausted. This can lead to burnout, impacting their physical and mental health.

Lack of relaxation: Downtime is crucial for children to recharge and relax. Having free time allows them to engage in unstructured play, explore their imagination, and simply unwind. Without this essential downtime, children miss out on the opportunity to decompress and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.

Diminished creativity: Overscheduling often leaves little room for spontaneity and free play, limiting a child's opportunities for creative expression. Unstructured time fosters imagination, problem-solving skills, and self-discovery, which are vital for a child's cognitive development.

Increased stress: Constantly juggling multiple activities and the pressure to excel in each one can create immense stress for children. The fear of not meeting expectations or falling behind their peers can lead to anxiety and decreased self-esteem.

How to change things if you think your child is overscheduled?

Recognizing the signs of overscheduling and taking steps to find a healthier balance is essential for the overall well-being of your child. Here are some strategies to consider:

Communication: Start by having an open conversation with your child about their current schedule. Ask them about the activities they genuinely enjoy and those that may feel overwhelming or unfulfilling. Encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings regarding their commitments, and as a parent, listen to their comments with an open mind.

Prioritize interests: Help your child identify the activities that truly align with their passions and goals. Consider trimming down the schedule to allow more time for the activities that bring them the most joy and fulfillment. It is important to strike a balance between pursuing their interests and having enough downtime.

Discover new interests: Explore activities that your child may be curious about but hasn't had the chance to try. Encourage them to explore different hobbies and interests that promote their overall growth and well-roundedness. This exploration should be done at a pace that allows for adequate time and commitment to each new activity.

Family time: Prioritize spending quality time together as a family. This can involve engaging in activities that everyone enjoys, such as family outings, game nights, or shared hobbies. Family time provides an opportunity to bond, relax, and create lasting memories while fostering a sense of belonging and support and is often more beneficial to a child’s life than any extracurricular activity.

While it is natural for parents to want the best for their children, it is essential to strike a balance between structured activities and unstructured downtime. Overscheduling can lead to burnout, decreased creativity, and increased stress levels. By engaging in open communication, prioritizing their interests, exploring new activities, and spending quality time as a family, we can find a healthier balance that allows children to thrive and enjoy their childhood. Let us remember that creating space for play, relaxation, and self-discovery is just as vital as structured learning and extracurricular engagements.


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