Tales From A Twin Mom:
Over-Scheduling Our Children
Over-scheduling your kids lately? Do you think that’s wise? Two months ago, as I picked up my twins at school, I started talking to one of the other mothers about setting up a play date. All three of the girls get along wonderfully, and this is not a common thing when it comes to twins and play buddies. Of course, the moment I met the mother, I started talking up a storm to see if she would consider getting the girls together outside of school grounds. After a 10 minute conversation, and pumping up three giddy girls with the hope of playing together soon, she looked at her watch and quickly said “Email me and we’ll set up a play date!”
Two months and 19 emails later I’ve gone from “Maybe she didn’t like me,” to “Wow, poor kid.” You see, it’s not that this mom didn’t want her child to play with others, it’s that she scheduled this child’s activities to the point that there was no free time. This child was booked for months at a time. She didn’t have a single day where she wasn’t booked for something. She had absolutely no down time; or even time to play with kids that she actually liked. That. Is. Sad.
Why do we choose to over-schedule our children to the point where they don’t have a moment to decide what they would like to do; or if they even want to do it? Playing with my friends was an integral part of my childhood. Being able to just lounge around on a Saturday was the norm. I had the option of playing with my little sister, reading, watching TV- well you get the gist. I had a choice.
I’m not saying that you should give your child the option of doing what they please every single day. I’m also not saying that putting your child in extra curricular activities is bad. It’s actually a great thing for a child to have some responsibility. I’m just worried that this child will grow up thinking that this is the “norm.” What will she do as an adult when she has down time? Will she think that something is wrong?
In a 2014 study conducted by the University of Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada), it showed that “free-play”, which is defined as play time without coaches, umpires or rule books, helped the development of a child’s brain and improved social interaction. The function of playing builds our ability to interact with others in a positive way. I understand the need to teach a child a second language or have them play an instrument, but shouldn’t we also keep in mind that they need to learn how to interact with their peers?
Two months later, the girls had their play date. We eventually found a one hour window between the other child’s activities. It went fast, as an hour of play usually does, and when it was time to leave, the child was very upset. Clearly she was having fun and didn’t want to go. As they rushed out the door the mom yelled out “Text me and we’ll do this again!”
I gave her a thumbs up and walked back in the house. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched my own children throw themselves on the couch and said how tired they were. “Just relax” was the only thing I could think of. This was their down time and they were entitled to it. I mean, aren’t we all?
Chime in! What are your thoughts? Do you think we as parents are over-scheduling our children? Do you think that’s a good thing?