I have a confession. I’m an overscheduled mother!
This week on Channel 9’s Perth Live, I was asked to chat about overscheduled children’. Now this is quite a controversial area where there are many divergent opinions. So, I ask you to just, you know, be kind.
Firstly, there ARE many benefits to getting your kids involved in activities after school. Music, art, sport, and scouts all have wonderful things to offer our children. Too many to list in fact. Bottom-line is ‘outside of school activities’ enrich our children’s lives. On top of that, there is a fair bit of research in this area and a few of the experts say that there is no such thing as having too many activities. Their theory is that if the kids enjoy it, why not? How can it possibly be bad?
But there is such a thing as too many activities and again, the research supports this too. And that research reveals several useful things for us parents. Firstly, it shows the importance of giving our children downtime. Just like we need a whole bunch of ‘doing nothing’ every now and then to soothe our fried systems, so too do our children. The research also shows us that when children have unstructured time then … guess what? Not only do they get to relax, the also get to be bored.
And when boredom settles in their creativity fires up. And creativity my friends is really really good. Creativity is the basis of self-expression, innovation, courage, problem solving, self-confidence, initiative … The list does go on.
Now it is for those reasons that my kids AREN’T overscheduled. But I am. Why? Because I have 4 of them. So, by the time each gets to pursue their 1 thing (which often comes with 2 sessions each week), I’m shattered. Fortunately, they aren’t because their home with my husband or my eldest son while I’m driving their sibling/s around.
So what to do? How do I stop being overscheduled? Or how to I counter the downsides to it? Well. I certainly elicit my husband’s involvement. He’s a very involved father and so we negotiate who does what pretty well. I walk clock up 24km each week walking. That soothes my soul and my nervous system without any shadow of a doubt. I LIVE for public holidays and school holidays where without fail, we go camping. And I mean, no Internet, no facilities, in the bush camping. There is nothing more restorative than that for me. And at times, I don’t get the kids to their activity. Yep. Sometimes I’m really just too tired, so we don’t. Definitely not often. But sometimes. Enough that it models self-care, not enough that we give up or let the team down.
So, that’s me. My name is Kirstin Bouse. I’m a mother of 4 and I’m overscheduled. But I’m trying my best…