How much ‘stuff’ does your kid do? How much is too much?  Growing up, my parents always told my brother and I that we could do whatever extra curricular activity we wanted provided 1. Our grades stayed up and 2. We stuck out the activity for the entire season.

Now, I was lucky. I found my ‘niche’ pretty early on in life. I was 8 when I performed in my first musical, and it was over from there. I was hooked and doing musicals was my thing. I did about 3 shows a year (mostly through fall, spring, and summer theatre camps) but I loved it. I still love it and still perform when it fits into my schedule.

I tried a few other activities along the way. I played softball for several summers. (I stunk, but my dad was the coach, and he made me feel like I was the best player on the team.) I even ran track one year in middle school only because my friends were running. My friend Sarah and I cared more about our matching track French braids than we did our running times. 

I was involved, but not over involved. And theatre was my thing. That’s what I did.

First piano lessons with my boys

I wonder about Vincent. What’s going to be his thing?  Both of his birth parents ran cross country and track. Will he be a runner?  Will he turn to music? (I mean, piano lessons are a must. He doesn’t have a choice about that.) 🙂 Will he play other sports? Do theatre? Be a renaissance man and dabble in a little of each?

IMG_0731I wonder about Z too. As I’m sitting here watching his ice skating lesson, I wonder what his thing is going to be. He loves skating and is actually getting quite good. He played football, baseball, and basketball and seemed to enjoy them all. (He just needs to learn to focus and do what he’s supposed to be doing instead of goofing off with his friends.) But I don’t think he’s found the one thing he’s best at or likes doing the most yet.

Again, I was lucky. I have a natural talent for singing. My parents joked that I sang before I talked. And I love singing. I love it so much, it’s part of my profession (elementary music teacher).

When do we stop signing kids up for every single activity they can possibly participate in and let them choose what they want to do? Is there a magic age where they say, “Ok Mom, I only want to do **insert activity here**”? Or are we the ones who decide that they’re too busy? What about kids just being kids?

IMG_0356Sometimes I feel like Z is so overcommitted that he barely has time to just be a kid and play. He’s only 8 and between homework, basketball (or whatever sport is in season), travel baseball, children’s choir, skating… not to mention living at 2 different houses and seeing 4 different family members at any given time, he’s barely got any time for himself.

There’s something to be said for keeping kids busy so they’re not playing video games or using the dreaded “B” word – Mooooom, I’m BORED! But there’s also something to be said for over scheduling kids. I’m not sure if there’s a lesser of the two evils or if there’s a happy medium.

What do you do? How do you keep your kids active and engaged in extracurriculars but not so swamped that they don’t have time to just be kids?