Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

During a national TV interview, I was asked to give six tips to help families stop over scheduling their children. Here they are:

1. MOST PARENTS WANT THE BEST FOR THEIR KIDS, BUT ARE THEY LOSING SIGHT OF WHAT’S REALLY BEST? Yes, we are too competitive and worry we won’t have the edge we need. Giving kids opportunities doesn’t mean they have to be overscheduled. Decades ago, our parents were not so focused on accomplishment but on learning the value of family and connection. We don’t want to lose this. Value connection over busyness.

2. IS THAT AGE-OLD PHRASE, “MOM, I’M BORED” SUCH A BAD THING? No, it’s a good thing. Kids need to learn how to be still, quiet, read a book, and just look at a rock and start thinking about it creatively. I remember when I was a child, we lived near a ravine with a field of straw in it. I spend hours playing in that field, using my imagination to build houses and forts. It was magical.

3. IF YOU’RE A CRAZY/BUSY FAMILY, HOW DO YOU START SETTING LIMITS? You take control of the calendar and say NO to things.

4. WHAT ABOUT HAVING “FAMILY NIGHTS”, OR EATING DINNER TOGETHER? This is extremely important. We know that families that eat dinner together have kids who get better nutrition, do better academically and are less likely to act out with drugs, alcohol and sex.

5. HOW CAN PARENTS LEAD BY EXAMPLE IN CUTTING DOWN ON STRESS AND OVERACHIEVING? It’s interesting that when you pole kids, they say their number one stress is parents who are stressed. So the more we model how to take care of ourselves by eating well, exercising, taking time to meditate on God, control our emotions, feed our spirits, etc. the less stressed we’ll be and the better we lead by example.

6. DOES IT HELP TO CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS ON THIS FOR SUPPORT? If you can find other parents who will support the idea of slowing down, encourage each other. Usually it’s other parents that lead us to feel more competitive –we think we have to have the edge with our kids. So find a few friends who will agree to slow down the activity and keep the schedule reasonable.

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