SUGGESTIONS FOR THE OVERSCHEDULED CHILD
Ever wonder what happened to the family dinner
hour? Or for that matter the family dinner half
hour? Monday is Soccer Practice, Tuesday is
Piano lesson, Wednesday is Church Activities,
Thursday is a Soccer Game, Friday a birthday
party to attend. A number of events will fill
up the weekend. Do you feel like a professional
scheduler and taxi driver? Are you finding yourself
increasingly irritable as you go from one activity
to the next? Maybe you and your children are
As a coach and family therapist I see more and
more people wanting to find
balance in their lives. In the past few years
I have seen a marked increase in children with
anxiety and depression. Children are now saying
they are 'stressed out'. I remember one child
in particular who just wanted to play a board
game with his parents, the only family assignment
was to play the board game. The family did not
have 'time' to play the game. Children no longer
seem to have time to goof off and just be children
- goof off time is not on the schedule.
As parents we need to guard our children and
ourselves to protect our children's unscheduled
time to be children. Children need time to create
their own games and also to learn to entertain
themselves. Children often want us to entertain
them or the television instead of figuring out
how to play by themselves. I would hazard a
guess that some of your fondest memories as
a child were playing out in the backyard with
some friends and really doing nothing in particular.
Just laughing, playing, talking or 'being'.
Suggestions to keep your family from being overscheduled:
Each child in the family has one outside activity
(i.e. sports, music lessons) besides church
activities. (If you have a big family even this
may be difficult.)
If your child wants to add an activity they
may consider giving up the current
activity in exchange for the new one.
Set family nights on your calendar. Order a
pizza and play board games. No one can schedule
anything on family night.
Help your child learn to say "No"
and help set appropriate limits on their activities
away from home.
Do not say "Yes" to any new activity
for yourself or child till you have
weighed the costs (i.e. financial, emotional,
loss of family time, etc.)
Assess your irritability quotient. Do you find
yourself frequently saying, "Hurry
up, we are going to be late?" How can you
slow down? What can you give up?
Resolve to eat dinner together as a family at
least 3 - 5 times a week, even if this is sandwiches
before you head out to a game or lesson.
Schedule "goof-off" time for your
family and children. Give your child down time
to explore a hobby or play outside.
Set priorities for your family. How many hours
a week do you want to be together as a family?
Take time as a family to enjoy God's creation
away from home. Examples: Go to a park, go for
a bike ride, go hiking, etc.
As Christian parents we are modeling for our
children how to handle stress and how to balance
our time. What lessons are we teaching our children?
The Bible tell us in Psalm 46:10, "Be still,
and know that I am God..." I'm afraid in
our hurried society we are teaching children
to "Be harried and know that I am God."
We all need down time and time to answer the
many beautiful, challenging questions our children
have about God and our world. Make the time
to slow down and enjoy the gift of your children.
Kimberly Chastain is a Professional Life Coach
and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
Kimberly is also the author of the ebook entitled,
"Pearls of Encouragement
for Christian Working Moms." She has
a passion for working with Christian Working
Moms to help them find satisfaction in all their
many different roles. To find out more go to
www.christianworkingmom.com You can order the
ebook and sign up for a free introductory coaching