We all know at least one mum who gets a thrill out of sharing the number of activities her children are involved in. Ballet, piano lessons, ballroom dancing, pottery…it’s a wonder their child has time for school. But how do you get the balance right?

It is important to engage children in a variety of activities to stimulate their mind and body, but it’s also important to avoid over-scheduling them with too many activities in their daily lives. So just how do you get that all-important balance?

Many well meaning mums set out to interest their children in a few extra curricular activities outside their school school life and aside from ordinary family fun stuff.

It’s natural to work hard to be the best parent that you can be. However, many mums get so caught up in the chaos of ordinary busy life that they assume that putting their children into as many activities as possible is actually the best way to raise their kids and get the best out if them.

Realistically, however, over-scheduling your children has the potential to impact your family in a negative way, preventing your child from enjoying quiet solitude and some occasional time to simply enjoy being a child.

Buying into the latest developmental tapes and dance and drama classes in an attempt to stimulate early intellectual development and healthy habits can backfire, and leave kids exhausted, confused, discouraged and demotivated.

Remember, in times of old scheduling activities was virtually unheard of. Parents traditionally have gone with the flow, encouraging their children to engage in active play as they see fit.

So how do you encourage your children to get involved without overdoing it? Here are three helpful tips:

  1. Schedule one activity at a time
  2. If you want to get your child involved in sports for example, schedule something for the spring and something for the summer. Don’t worry about having a plan for every school term or holiday, or every weekend. This one activity will be enough to stimulate your child’s development and encourage a healthy lifestyle without over-burdening them.

  3. Give your child a choice
  4. Aim to select activities your children will enjoy. To do this you should consider one or two different activities and speak with your child about it. If you register them for a piano class, for example, but they hate it and would prefer playing the trumpet, you will probably only end up frustrated, and your child will not benefit from the experience…not to mention the wasted finances.

  5. Give them some quiet time
  6. Allow some portion of the day/week/month where your children don’t have to do anything. Introspection and time for simply exploring are essential components of a child’s development.

We’re all well-meaning mums – even the pushiest of us. Just remember that a good parent isn’t defined by how many activities they involve their children in each and every day. A good parent is one that allows their children to explore many different things without forcing their own agenda on their kids.

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