As parents, we’re constantly juggling homework assignments, birthday parties, and family trips, but once you throw extracurriculars into the mix, it can all start to feel overwhelming. Not just for you but for your children. Managing your busy schedule is vital, but so is your child’s health.
How to Recognize Signs of Burnout in Children
When parents put their children in extracurricular activities, they’re often doing it for their child’s benefit. In the present, your children will develop positive habits and better social skills. In the future, you can print your favorite moments in a photo book and relive them with your child.
With that said, sometimes parents will get caught up in the positives and miss signs of creeping burnout. Or, they may see their child’s behavior as inappropriate or disruptive. Children aren’t always able to express themselves clearly, so disinterest or fatigue will show up in other ways.
Other times, the child is simply uninterested because they’re becoming more independent. They may not want to invest time into extracurriculars as they age or reach puberty, which is normal.
However, if burnout is the culprit, you’ll notice the following signs:
- Slow to get ready, disinterest, and lack of motivation
- Loss of pride in performing the original activity
- Poor performance, constantly tired, or lack of socializing
- Acts aggressively when the extracurricular is mentioned
- An interest in trying another extracurricular activity
Children are just as susceptible to burnout as adults, so take their concerns seriously. If they don’t want to participate in an extracurricular activity anymore, it may be best to pull them out.
How to Manage Your Kids After School Schedule
How you’ll manage your child’s after-school schedule will change as they get older, so you’ll need to stay flexible. However, the following advice seems to work for a lot of families.
Only Allow One Activity Per Season
Children need downtime, so it isn’t wise to overload their schedules. It’s also unwise to have your children attend an extracurricular activity more than twice a week. With these rules in mind, ask your child to pick one activity per season and let them switch it up if they want a change.
Consider Avoiding “Travel Teams”
Unless your child wants to play on a higher-level travel team for sports, consider opting out of them. Most travel teams require a three-season commitment and out-of-state travel, meaning children are locked in, and parents have to tag along. There’s also pressure to stay on the team.
Carpool With Other Trusted Parents
Instead of driving your own kids to practice every week, partner with other trusted parents and create a carpooling schedule. Not only does a carpooling schedule free up an entire hour (or two), but it also allows your kids to form deep social connections with other teammates.
Add it to Your Calendar and Sync it
It’ll be impossible for you to make appointments (for you or your children) if you don’t know what else is going on. Having a calendar on you is the key to an organized schedule, so keep one on your smartphone. Keep your partner or children in the loop by syncing it to their devices.
Try After-School Extracurriculars
Most schools offer after-school activities to students, ranging from sports to drama. They usually begin right when the last bell rings, and they’re often free (except for equipment). Students that have a layover between after-school extracurriculars can study before they start an activity.
Take a Season Off (Like the Summer)
Parents don’t have to manage their children’s extracurricular schedule all year. In fact, it may be better for you and your children if you don’t. An activity-free summer can give your family the time to refresh after a busy nine months. Or, you could take a group vacation or road trip.