Kids and burnout

I remember when my boys were young and a few people told me I had them involved in to many things. I didn’t think they were. I saw this on a special report the other night and started to think about it.

This report reminded me of my niece who danced ALL THE TIME. Everyday she had dance. Not only did she have dancing but it was at “the best” dance studio in Minneapolis and wasn’t anywhere near their home. There was a lot of driving involved not to mention the money spent. But it’s all she got to do. Like the gymnast in the story. She finally got tired of never doing anything with her friends so when she got to high school, she quit dance and got to do everything in high school and not just dance.

My kids started out playing an instrument and they both played baseball. Jason played hockey one year and then switched over to basketball. Toby tried a bunch of different things like wrestling, karate and he really liked his guns. They also had Sunday school and confirmation. They only did one thing per season.They both also had swimming lessons all winter at the jr high school. I guess my point is that we didn’t race from one thing to another and they only did the things they wanted to do. I never made them do anything but they did have to finish what they started. Toby hated basketball but I made him finish the season and told him he didn’t have to play again.

Do you think kids now are involved in to many things? Do you think kids just play enough? I always thought playing was very important.

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19 Responses to Kids and burnout

  1. SKL says:

    I think that the current generation of parents is really confused as to what is the best thing to do. People say that kids can’t get into good colleges unless they have a very well-rounded resume by 10th or 11th grade. So I think some parents feel like they need to get their kids started on building that resume.

    I think it’s fine for kids to do a bunch of different things, but I don’t think it needs to be so structured or time-consuming. The number of structured things could increase over time, but for a primary school kid, I think one structured extracurricular is plenty at any given time. Depending on the individual, some kids may do great with more than one, if it’s their own choice.

    I played four instruments, had part-time jobs, was in at least one club and once dabbled in a sport, in addition to attending church and Sunday school. But with the exception of church / Sunday school, all of that was my choice and nobody was stopping me from dropping out. And I taught myself to play 3 of the 4 instruments. So while I had my fair share of exposure, I wasn’t very “scheduled.” And I really feel that made a difference – at least, for me. What I needed was to be able to use my own brain to structure my own life (for better or for worse). I think learning to brainstorm, prioritize, and manage time is at least as important as all the skills learned in adult-planned activities.

    On the other hand, I do think that some kids thrive on structure while others don’t. I could see one of my daughters being happiest with multiple structured activities, and the other with none. If I look forward 20 or 30 years, I see the “free spirit” daughter as most likely to be a leader / entrepreneur – regardless of whether the girls attend a bunch of structured activities or not.

    I do think that it’s important to include “real life” in a kid’s day. Like chores, being responsible for their own homework, spending time with mom & dad on “grown-up” day-to-day activities (from grocery shopping to discussing current events). If a child is so busy with extracurriculars that his parents don’t feel right giving him age-appropriate household responsibilities, or expecting him to turn out high-quality schoolwork without parental assistance, then I think something is wrong. Another thing that shouldn’t be left out is free reading. If a child doesn’t have time to enjoy literature outside of the school setting, then it’s time to reassess the value of the extracurriculars.

  2. mssc54 says:

    I think that most children are involved in activities because the parent(s) have a vision of finding that one thing they will excell at and make on Easy Street. Or the parent(s) are living vicariously through their child’s activity. Or the worst of all the children are involved because the parent(s) want to use the time the child is at whatever practice it is so they can have an unpaid babysitter.

    I’ve coached youth sports for many years and the worst thing for any team to deal with is a child who is made to show up.

    Now that we have a few decades under our belt we are much more concious of the go – go – go – go all the time.

    We had daughter playing varsity highschool softball for THIRTEEN STRAIGHT YEARS!!! I remember that first summer we didn’t have a daughter playing travle ball. OMG! Do you know what that summer was like? IT WAS LIKE SUMMER!!!

    The short answer is YES children are involved in to many activities. Let them be kids.

    • SKL says:

      I think there is something to the “vicarious” idea. Most of us didn’t have those opportunities as kids, and we can’t help thinking that if we’d only had the chance, maybe we could have been talented . . . so let’s at least give our kids the chance.

      Personally, I put my kids in a couple of activities last year in order to expose them to more kids / families and get them acquainted with group learning. I continued this year because they were offered at their daycare. My older daughter loves the classes and looks forward to them with glee; she will thus stay in them as long as this continues to be the case. My younger daughter doesn’t seem to like them much, so I am considering dropping her out of them soon. When she gets older, she’ll be able to tell me what she would rather pursue.

      • mssc54 says:

        So then, what I’m hearing you say is that you would vote YES on a referendum to upgrade the highschool stadium for the marching band and sports teams? 🙂

        • SKL says:

          No, I’m not a socialist nor a communist so I don’t believe I should pay for every child to do what I choose to pay for my kids to do. My kids don’t get everything every other kid’s parents pay for, either.

          The best thing I ever did for my kids is provide each with a sister. Is it now my duty to provide every child in the USA a sister if he/she doesn’t already have one? I mean, how selfish of me.

          • mssc54 says:

            So then your kids go to a privatly funded school? ‘Cause if they go to a publicly funded school every other kid’s parents pay for that.

            Don’t worry a second about children without siblings. They can invite their friends over and pretend they are siblings… or something. Or you could always adopt one or two lonely, neglected or abused children. Or just stick with the plan you’re on now. Everybody is different go with works for your family. You officially have my permission. 🙂

            Have a great weekend!

            • SKL says:

              I’d have to be Grandma Duggar before I could spawn offspring to utilize all the school tax dollars I have personally paid in already.

              At the moment, my kids don’t attend anything that is government sponsored. Maybe they will someday, maybe not. But if they do, rest assured that it will be my tax dollars that will be paying for it (many times over).

              My kids are adopted, but you probably knew that. I’m too old and busy to plan to grow my family any more. I don’t know what gives you the idea that I am a selfish, opportunistic wench. Is it the fact that I don’t 100% side with your Mrs.’ profession, or the fact that I don’t appreciate having to pay approximately 100% of my take-home pay to the tax man, while being told it isn’t enough? That was a rhetorical question, you needn’t answer.

    • Laura says:

      Gotta disagree with the “easy street” thing, Mssc… yeah, some people have visions of their kid being the next Michael Jordan or Walter Payton (ok, so I’m dating myself. move on). I think, like SKL, that the majority of parents are more in the “vicarious” category, but in a good way.

      When I was a kid, I was a girly-girl. Three out of five nights were spent at the dance studio, sometimes two classes (regular ballet, and then pointe) per night. I never thought about whether I loved it or not, it just was from age 5 through 14. I was a good student, and was able to get through my other responsibilities. When I got to a point where something else interested me – horses – I switched to those lessons.

      Now, fast forward to today, and I’m the parent. I signed Josh up for Tae Kwon Do, which he attends two nights a week. Does he love it? Yes. Is he in it because it’s good for him, because it helps him establish a sense of balance, because it teaches him to defend himself in a world where he’s usually the tiniest kid out there (including the girls)? Yes. Is he going to grow up to be a TKD Champion? Most likely not. But if he does, it’ll be because of his internal drive and my support… not because of MY drive, and dragging him along behind.

      And…. will I help him find a way to balance what he does – TKD, Tee Ball, soccer, swimming – with his chores, home work, and free/play time? Absolutely. That’s what life is about. Learning to balance all the crap that life throws at you, prioritize it, and deal with what MUST be done, and what you WANT to do – what gives you joy – And learning to let go of something that might interfere.

      Geez, how did I make that so complicated?

    • nikki says:

      Do you really think MOST parents are like that MSSC? That they have their kids in sports or what have you because they think it’ll pay out for them in the end. I find that to be a terribly sad way of thinking.

      • mssc54 says:

        Nikki, no I don’t think that MOST parents are trying to hit payday by having their children involved in sports but SOME are. Seriously. I coached girls’ fastpitch softball for over a decade. Consequently I was around the boys teams too. I saw “those parents” all the time that made their kid drill, drill, drill, drill. You could tell the parents who were “like that.”

        The only thing that disturbed me more were the ADULT COACHES who coached/treated their youth sports team as if they had a winning season the Yankees (or Twins) would hear about them and call them up and give them a position coaching in the majors.

        My style was to make sure the kids learned the basics of the sport, teach them how to develope the skills they need to succeed, learn to be good losers as well as gracious winners and to always have fun doing it.

        The biggest trouble I got into when I was coaching was when I heard an adult male coach screaming (reaming) this 8 or 9 year old boy for a bone head play he made. I was on an adjoining field coaching 3rd base the other coach was about 30′ away coaching first base on the other field. I politely (seriously) hollered over at him, “Hey coach, c’mon, he’s 8 years old.” He had many more years in the system and complained about me so I had to go and meet with the Director. They eventually admitted that I was right but asked me to inform them in the future. Big sissies.

  3. pammywammy says:

    If a child likes the activity,they will excel at it.But i think some parents do push to hard and it causes stress all around.

  4. Nikki says:

    I for one thing sports, drama, music, dance, ect…are all great outlets for kids and keeps them out of trouble. I’m very thankful I have such an active son, I honestly can’t see him ever giving baseball or football up. It’s his dream to be football player for the Vikings. I know that’s not realistic but he’s 9 and I let him dream. He know if he doesn’t keep his grades up he doesn’t play sports. He’s never been in more than one sport at a time. He only plays baseball and football. Hockey, soccor, basketball..he has zero interest and I’d never make him play those sports.
    My BF is a step mother to a 14 yr old boy, who in all reality (and she’d tell ya this too) is lazy. She didn’t allow that and told him pick something to be involved in or I will for you. he picked football and now loves it. Some kids do need that extra push. I think with technology these days, too many kids are playing video games and sitting on the computer. Now my son does play those too but they certainly don’t take over any physical activity. He’s TOO much like his father to ever choose a video game over say, playing catch in the front yard.
    Our community is kinda insane when it comes to football and I have seen parents get down right mean with their kids, the coaches and the officials! Those are the parents who live through their kids. Want them to be perfect, so they look perfect. It’s sad really!!!

  5. javajunkee says:

    I think the amount of activities should be left up to the child..not the adult.
    I see so many parents DRAGGING their kids to 10 different activities a week or even sometimes it seems like in a day..the kid obviously isn’t enjoying many of them..the parent is stressed and bitching about it. Ok …nobody held a gun to your head to enroll them in all this crap! Either take them out or stop beefing about it. (this pertains to a certain group of people I know from a weekly outing for me…) and for them it is about being in the “elite” club of whose kid can be in the most stuff…which if they want to play that game then fine but don’t sit around and bitch about how effing tired you are or how effing cranky your kids are. kids were not in sports. We homeschooled and they just were never interested. My daughter tried piano lessons but she didn’t want to do it so I am figuring why pay for lessons she doesn’t want. This was her choice not mine. My son wanted to take guitar lessons..>NO what he really wanted to do was visit with his guitar teacher…love her but I am not paying $35 for a half hour lesson just so he can “chat”. She offered to visit with him for free. 🙂
    My daughter and I bowled on a mom/daughter league. I made her follow through with that because they had given her a bowling ball as part of the “sign up”. Half way through that even with lessons from the pros that were included..she didn’t care. So we finished up the season and that was the end of that.
    Somebody else probably said it but dont the ivy league colleges look at all this crap when they accept students? I think that could play a huge part in it too. Lucky for me one doesn’t want to go to college and the other one wants to go to cosmetology school and they don’t care if she played sports or was a cheerleader or anything like that.

  6. javajunkee says:

    btw..I see playing was mentioned. That’s what I miss seeing kids just PLAY…not compete..everything is a friggin competition anymore.
    I have to say my kids PLAYED. I guess that is one benefit of not being in the wealthy category. We never had ANY of the gaming systems. My daughter just a year ago bought guitar hero and she’s 22 years old.
    The neighborhood kids hated it when my now 18 year old was the only one home to “play” with..cuz you had to have an imagination to be at our house. The deck was ALWAYS something other than a deck. Sticks/rocks and various other items were not what they seemed. He and the next door neighbor (who bucked the system as long as he could…waiting for us to buy into the gaming thing)..he gave up , gave in and he and my son built a real honest to goodness FORT back in the hill behind our twister magnets. They took furniture up there and old busted up television and a plethora of other crap both me and the other kids parents wanted out of our houses.
    Now PLAYING like that I’m all about that! We are big art people here. My kitchen table became a canvas about 2 years ago. I stripped off the top of it so just wood was showing and I now have a canvas of artwork. That’s my kind of play.
    Ok I’m done! 🙂

  7. joanharvest says:

    I can honestly say I didn’t rule my kids’ lives. My son was in Little league for 8 years and he loved it. My daughter was in band and she loved it. I couldn’t have torn them away. My daughter tried many things, ballet, gymnastics, horseback riding, and settled on band. She played the flute. My son tried drums, raced BMX bicycles and settled on baseball.
    They both played a lot. As long as it wasn’t in front of the TV I was happy. Fortunately they were used to not being glued to the TV.
    I agree that playing is very important. I played with them a lot too. Not because I wanted spy on them but because they begged me to.
    My SIL told me the other day that he can’t believe my family is so close. He said his family was never like that.

  8. Gary says:

    We just simply let our boys participate in the things THEY want to participate in. We have never pushed them to participate in anything they didn’t want to be in. As long as they keep their grades up we allow them to be active in whatever they would like to be active in.

    I think that sports and other activities teach our kids things they wouldn’t learn in a classroom and can be just as important as things learned in a classroom.

  9. SKL says:

    I have to admit I was mighty proud today when told that my wee, 24-pound 3-year-old has been promoted to the 4-year-old gymnastics class, and she’s kicking butt there too. No, I didn’t push her; I didn’t even know she was promoted until I called to talk about whether her sister needs to drop out. But I’m her mom, I’m allowed to feel a little proud of her. Everyone needs to have something they rock at.

  10. Just a Mom says:

    We try to let the girls do one thing per season. Both of my girls like softball but they are in the regular league. The one with 1 game on Saturday and 1 practice during the week. Not the live, breathe and die softball league. Other than that they just play with other kiddos in the neighborhood.

  11. mabel says:

    Hi Joy! When I was young, I was in softball. I was a tomboy and kicked arse and took some numbers. My oldest son was in t-ball but didn’t like it. He finished the season and never wanted to go back. He dabbled in karate- and after I spent the big bucks on his uniform… he didn’t want to do that either (*don’t worry – I made him wear the uniform as a Halloween costume to get some mileage out of it). Oh, he played the trombone too for a season. And, that my friend- was it for him. He had no interest and I wasn’t going to force him.

    Alexis and Zach- the twins – I tried to encourage Zeek to be on something, anything but he had no interest. He’s my little business man (*I swear he’s a man in his 30’s-40’s trapped in a kid’s body) – Alexis did cheerleading for 2 seasons and that was it. I always asked and offered but they would just say, “Nahhh.”

    I don’t remember being asked as a kid. I just went. Maybe I should have just signed them up for stuff without asking? I don’t know but I can tell you that for us it was an issue with money too.

    When my kids were younger, our neighborhood was just crawling with kids their age and they never sat around. Always out and about. I don’t have any regrets… they seem to be pretty well rounded and I just did the best I could.

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