Helping your kid find balance
Overwhelmed child

Reining in your child's calendar

If you find your child has too much on their plate, here is some expert advice on how to create a better balance in their schedule.

You've thought about and paid attention to your child's behaviour as of late (as well as your own), and you've come to the conclusion that, between school and a gamut of after-school activities (not to mention homework), your child simply has too much going on their life — so much so, it's impacting your life too. Parenting expert Terry Carson says your own schedule is often a strong indicator of whether your child has an overload of activities. "If you have no time for yourself, not even for a movie or just time with your spouse, and you can't even relax at the cottage because you're so busy from your child's schedule, then it's time to cut back," she says.

So take a deep breath, and hunker down to create more balance in your child's life as well as your own.

Lay down the law

"Who's the boss here?" jokes Carson with a good laugh. Yes, you'll come across resistance from your child if you tell them they have to cut back on an activity they love, but it's common sense, she says.

"You're the grown-up, and you decide"

"It's the nature of the beast. You're the grown-up, and you decide." This will help your child learn that life can be unfair and will help them persist when things come their way that they don't like. Even though it can be uncomfortable to manage your schedules to start, in the long run this is beneficial for your child, says Carson, since it's their well-being and ensuring a manageable schedule that you're making a priority.

Balance their activities with something different

Consider the activities your child is going to continue with, then add something to their schedule that is from the other end of the spectrum. Carson suggests going to the symphony or a museum regularly if your child is heavily into sports activities, or if their activities are on the calm end, then add something more physical to their lives.

Focus on family time

Don't just simply slash your child's activities back; make plans for more quality time together as a family, says Carson. Join the YMCA together or shoot some hoops. "The best way for more balance in their lives is to reconnect as a family. There's healing and de-stressing when you come together," says the mom of four.

Encourage charitable work

Volunteer work could be your family activity (see above). Get your child to volunteer hours at a food bank or animal shelter, for example — anything that allows them to move the focus off themselves. "The spirit will grow from giving back to society and helping others," says Carson. "You're adding enrichment to their lives, not simply just reducing things in their schedule."

More on family activities

Volunteering as a family
Fun activities to do with another family
10 Family fun ideas

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