Over-Scheduled Kids: The Warning Signs


How do you know if your child is over-scheduled? Here are some clues:

  • She tells you. Sometimes your child may simply tell you she is overextended and want to cut back.Boy with post it notes on head
  • She exhibits physical/psychological signs of stress:
    • she repeatedly complains of being sick at practice or game time
    • she is slow to return to play after an injury
    • she is nervous or anxious before, during, or after games
    • she practices well, but plays poorly
    • she engages in atypical behavior 
  • You are suffering:


    • Stress. Do you think life is too hectic, too "crazy"? Don't just shrug your shoulders and chalk it up to life in the new millennium. Being competitive shouldn't be what being a mother is about; moms need to avoid getting sucked into unhealthy peer pressure with other moms to push their kids into more and more activities. You can be concerned about your kids and at the same time not forget to take care of yourself. We need to resist the Supermomma syndrome. You don't need to put your kids into a travel program just because everyone else is doing it. Don't wear your stress as a badge of honor. It isn't really something to be proud of! You need to make changes before you burn out. As Oprah Winfrey told Newsweek, "I tell women all the time that you have to fill yourself up so that you have enough to give to other people. Running around on empty does not serve you or your family or your work." 
    • Worry. Do you worry that you are going to burn out? That your marriage is suffering because you have no time alone with your spouse? That your kids are going to burn out. 
    • Resentment. Do you secretly resent all the time and money you have invested in your child's sports activities and wish that you and your family could spend more time together, or take a family vacation to someplace other than a soccer/softball/baseball/hockey tournament? 
  • Your calendar tells the story. If your children are over-scheduled, a look at the calendar may provide all the proof you need: 
    • Scheduling conflicts. It's a simple fact that you can't be in two places at once. Too many scheduling conflicts create stress and are a sure sign of over scheduling.
    • No free time. If you don't see any or very few blank days on the calendar, if the calendar is a jumble of entries, that means too little free time for: 
      • Your kids. Does your child, when asked by a friend to come over to her house to hang out or even to spend an afternoon with you clothes shopping, have to look at her PDA first to see if she can fit it into her schedule.Crowded calendar with help post it note and push pin
      • Your family. If there aren't any family events on the calendar, if you and your family never spend any time together, or the only time you spend together is getting to the next event or game, something is out of whack.
      • You and your spouse. It is important for couples to have alone time. You may need to go to the extent of making a date with your spouse, actually scheduling some together, and putting it on the calendar.

Adapted from the book, Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports (HarperCollins 2006) by Brooke de Lench


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