My oldest is 5 years old and we are already deep in the trenches of managing extracurriculars. It’s mind-boggling that we would even be at this phase of life already when she’s only in kindergarten. Yet she comes home roughly every six weeks with a new flyer from our Recreation District about soccer signs up, t-ball the next time, and basketball the month after. And the discussion between friends always starts at school, “Are you playing soccer this year? I am, I want you to be on my team!”
While I am very impressed with our Rec District and happy they are providing these opportunities for our community, I’m also an overwhelmed parent that can’t keep up with practices and games and everything else that comes with each sport! So, we don’t.
When do we finally call it quits?
Well, there are a lot of factors to consider. I love Mary’s perspective on this topic. I’d also like to add that we live in a very small community and participating in extracurriculars and spending Saturdays on the soccer fields is a huge community event where we all know one another and have time to socialize. This factor plays in when making a decision!
But my biggest selling point for this decision-making process is time for free play. Are my kids coming home from school, rushing to change clothes and eat a snack, just to get back in the car and head to soccer practice? Once in a while, that’s fine! One night a week we live this way so we can make it to a tumbling class, and it’s an overall benefit to our whole family. But the rest of the week they come home, have some downtime by themselves or with screens, and then spend the rest of the evening deep in play, sometimes inside, sometimes outside. Sometimes we involve friends and neighbors, sometimes we don’t!
But play is the real work of childhood, not basketball. Not choir practice. So when all of these extracurricular activities start interfering with playtime, that’s where and when the line is drawn in our family.
It’s always a tricky road to navigate, though! How do you decide which extracurriculars and how many your child can and will be involved in?
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