Inside: If you are hesitant to jump right into kids’ activities and all the busyness and commitments that come with it, hopefully this will help.
Kids like to do stuff.
Stuff they like to do includes (but is not limited to):
- playing in the dirt
- trying new things
- running around screaming
- dressing up
- making friends
As parents, we realize kids love doing stuff. And, as parents, we realize it’s often easier on us if we organize stuff for them to do instead of letting them run wild and free.
I’m a Run Wild and Free type of mom for the most part, but there are certainly skills I want my kids to learn that are often best taught in organized activities or group settings.
But here are some of the possible negative side effects of an over-scheduled family life:
- kids don’t get enough down time at home
- meals are on the go (or too often fast food)
- kids are tired from lack of sleep
- everyone feels frazzled and busy and always “driving around”
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Our kids can enjoy some activities without having to be overly busy and we can avoid FOOKMO (fear of our kids missing out) by asking ourselves a few key questions.
Keys for Choosing Activities That Bless The Family
There are so many things kids can do these days, let’s not automatically jump to “soccer” if it isn’t something they actually like.
“The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.” – Erik H. Erikson
Do They Love It?
If you have to drag your kids out of the house, into their uniforms, and out of the car to do a certain activity… you can just sing “Let It Go” along with Elsa.
While it’s a great idea to expose your children to multiple experiences to see where they light up and fit, your child isn’t learning much if they hate what they’re doing. You could find another way to teach them what you want them to learn.
Kids learn best when they are interested and in ‘play mode.’ Sure, there is growth in discomfort but if we want our kids to find outlets for creativity, stress relief, and socializing, choose an activity they actually enjoy.
? Just because one sibling plays a sport doesn’t mean the other has to.
*I do think having your children stick out a certain activity until the term is over is a good lesson in finishing what we start.
Wait Until Your Child Asks Or Is Ready
With 5 kids, 5 years old and under, if we started activities too early we’d live in our minivan. My husband and I made a rule of thumb that we wouldn’t consider activities for the kids until they were old enough (and interested enough) to ask.
We can think our kids need to be immersed in activities at a young age, but really they don’t. The older and more mature a child is, the more they’ll be able to engage in and enjoy the activities your family chooses.
So far in our experience, age 4 seems to be a prime age for children to become more inquisitive and focused in their interests. An activity that engaged their senses at this age would be worth far more than some type of lessons for a 2 year old, in my opinion.
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Get All the Information Beforehand Then Decide
My husband and I would love our sons to join the Boy Scouts. We recently went to the local reservation for a family weekend and as I was given a tour, I asked a lot of questions.
Questions I think every mom should ask before enrolling their kids in an activity that costs both time and money.
- How often are meetings or practices required?
- Do you encourage parental involvement at these meetings or practices?
- If so, will there be childcare for younger siblings?
- How many times per week or month are there games or official activities?
- How much do uniforms cost and how how much will it be to participate for a given term or year?
- What days of the week are they required to attend events? (Big one if you don’t want to give up your weekends)
Choose Activities that Bless (Not Inconvenience) Everyone
This is a hard one if you have quite a few kids. One child may love dance. One may like chess. One may love soccer and the others hate sitting on the sidelines waiting.
This may happen, it’s life. However, we can take everyone into consideration when we’re creating our own family’s schedule.
Will we have to cart around the entire family 4 days a week for one person’s practices or games? Are they actually good at that game? Are we thinking college scholarship or is it just for fun?
Well, if it’s fun for one person and a nightmare for 4 people… this may require more thinking or tweaking so one person’s hobby doesn’t inconvenience everyone.
If you can find a sport or activity or group that multiple kids can do and enjoy at the same time, all the better!
Find Activities that Involve As Many Kids As Possible
My kids are all close in age. Instead of having 4 kids on 4 separate teams or events, we’re always looking for things they can do together. Or at least a few of them together at a time.
Choose activities where they can either be on the same team, or have practices, games, or activities on the same day so your entire week is not booked out.
If you have practice 3 nights a week, games 2 nights a week, and a booked out Saturday you’re going to soon tire of this schedule as will your kids. If you can manage to do awesome activities and keep a life outside of them and school, you’ve hit the jackpot!
If you can combine family time and an awesome activity, everyone will feel blessed!