I often worry that my own kids are overscheduled—and as I posted about last week on my Greater Good blog, research has shown that more “enriching” activities for our kids does not necessarily lead to their greater success or happiness. I repeat: more does not equal better. Or happier. Or more successful.
But some activities, of course, are worth doing. My friend Katy put it this way:
My lucky kids have an avalanche of activities that they can pursue. Where should I draw the line between pushing my kids too much and providing them with too little encouragement to try out new things?”
When my own children’s schedule starts to feel hectic (for them or for me), I start asking myself these three groups of questions about each of their activities:
(1) Does my child really want to do the activity? Or is the activity I’m considering more what I want (e.g. a kid who learns to be a great team-player through years of organized sports) than what my kid wants (she is BEGGING for piano lessons, but would rather die than try out for soccer)?
(2) Am I being seduced by the idea that more skills and more achievements will bring greater happiness? Is there a chance this activity might actually lower well-being by cutting into too much free-play, sleep, or dinnertime? In other words, do my kids have some free-play time every single day? Are they getting enough sleep? Are we managing to eat dinner together 5 nights a week or more?
(3) Does this activity make ME more stressed, more anxious, or busy? Does it cut into MY happiness? Is there a way that I could make it happen without adding more to my plate?
I’m finding that very few activities meet those criteria, but when they do, they are worth it!
*One thing to do this week to make you happier: Evaluate each of your children’s activities: do they pass muster? Would you all be happier without one or more of them?
Take action: which activities meet all the criteria? Leave a comment below.
For more tips about how to be happier, and to raise happier kids, take my online class! (The irony of suggesting you do one more thing in this newsletter is not lost on me, by the way.)
Rest assured: my class is designed for BUSY parents who are looking for ways to bring more joy into their parenting. Do something for yourself that will have a happy effect on your whole family!