Go, go, go and go some more. This is a common theme among most families. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that in the last year, at least half of parents with school-age children say their kids have played sports, participated in religious instruction or youth groups, taken lessons in music, dance or art or done volunteer work after school or on the weekends. Bottom line – kids are often too busy. To your credit, you are trying your best to give your child opportunities to be successful. You want to ensure that he or she is well rounded and exposed to a variety of things. Your intent is no doubt good, but there are drawbacks to your well-intended ways. There can be too much of this good thing called being too busy. Be aware of these drawbacks.
Risk of Developing Anxiety
Anxiety is the feeling of being anxious, and it happens when the fight, flight, freeze response is activated in the nervous system. You may find that many times your child complains about going to or doesn’t show an excitement for the activity he is in. When this happens, your child’s fight, flight, freeze response is ignited, that inner engine is revving, and he or she is in a constant anxious state.
While this is a balance of helping your child manage normal anxieties, if you find yourself constantly fighting your child to go to certain activities, it may be time to quit altogether, limit the number of activities, or at least take a break. The goal is to try to reach a level of balance for the well-being of all.
Inability to Self-Soothe
When time is always accounted for, then there is no time to waste. This may sound like a good thing, but in fact, it really isn’t. Down time is necessary to allow children to develop the ability to self-soothe, or in other words find something to make themselves content.
Make sure you have a variety of constructive things at home like art supplies, books, games, toys and a backyard with space to move around, so when there’s down time, your child will eventually figure out how to fill that time with positive mindful adventures.
They Become Too Dependent
If you are constantly right there by your child’s side, taking him around to this practice or that game, or this recital or that play date, then your child will become dependent on you for everything. When you do this, much like an inability to self-soothe, your child will not have the skills or confidence to do anything on his own.
Along that same vein, if your child is set to a strict schedule all the time, then he or she can become too dependent on that schedule, and not know what to do when there is free time.
Drop the schedule from time-to-time, while subsequently taking yourself out of the equation for a bit. This will allow your child to be self-reliant, which is a critical trait to have as a successful and happy adult.
These Can Affect You as Well
If you think that the above issues only pertain to children, think again. If you keep a rigorous schedule for your children, the same things can very well manifest themselves in you, the parent.
Anxiety will rear its ugly, motorized head when you have committed your time and money to this team or that art class, and it is a constant fight for your child to go. Anxiety also comes along with fear that your child doesn’t like it or isn’t successful. And just like your child who gets acclimated to a life where each minute is spoken for, so do you.
If you feel like your life is a never-ending mode of go, go, go, consider cutting some things out, or simplifying the schedule a bit. You may find that the time goes slower, and that your longer days will give you more time to get to know each other and yourselves a little better. You may even find that you fill that time with things you never would have before, like reading together, roasting marshmallows in the backyard, or being inside a quiet home with everybody doing their own wonderful thing.
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