After school activities- when is it too much?
Can we talk about the amount of activities kids do these days? I realise we are all under pressure to create amazing human beings but when it comes to sports, how much does a boy and a girl under the age of ten need to be doing?
Parenting is hard enough without adding another element of stress and being made feel like we need to push our children into a multitude of sports and for them to be amazing athletes…for what?
Lately I feel like every time I’m sitting at swimming lessons or watching a football game, I get freaked out by how competitive the parents are. My eight year-old play’s indoor soccer because he enjoys it and his other friends are playing it too. I am under no delusion that he will one day want to play any kind of professional soccer, in fact I’m not even sure if he will play it next year. But often I speak to parents who are spending a fortune on the most expensive trainers, boots and soccer balls, enrolling their kids in different soccer camps up to three or four times a week. Now don’t get me wrong, some of these kids live and breathe soccer, it’s clear its all they want to do. But there are kids who you can tell have zero interest. They are dragged against their will and pushed into it by their parents. Some parents are determined that their children will be heavily involved in team sports from a young age and others are 100% convinced that they have bred the next Ronaldo and its only a matter of time before he is scouted.
And it’s not just soccer. There’s swimming, gymnastics, athletics, hockey, cricket, honestly kids are so busy these days they need a personal assistant and a chauffeur. I have three kids and the reality is that as they get older they will have to pick one or maybe two things they really love doing and I can only do my best to fit it in. Sometimes when I tell other parents there are days in the week when we do absolutely nothing after school they look horrified. As if I am letting my kids down by not filling my time with multiple sports in order to create an Olympic athlete. I’m sorry but I’m exhausted. And I get sick of driving them all over the place and spending a fortune on something they aren’t really into. I drag them all to swimming lessons. My eldest hates it and every week we have the same argument because he doesn’t want to go. But we live near the beach and I do believe knowing how to swim is something that will come in handy for their entire lives. I am aware he is not going to be the next Michael Phelps, and that’s okay. I just want him to feel confident in the water and be a strong enough swimmer to save me when I am drowning, (yes, I do wish my mom had dragged me to more lessons).
It will be interesting to see how many children whose time is completely filled with playing different sports, go on to become very sporty people. And how many of them will have retired by the age of 11 from burn out and have zero interest in any sports because their lives were consumed by it from an early age. Sometimes we forget that these small people are going to grow up and refuse to partake in whatever it is they are sick of. I’m not saying they can call the shots but they will know what they do and don’t like to do and we won’t be able to force it. I guess we are all trying to do what’s best for our kids, but don’t stress yourself out. If that dance class is miles away and your daughter is only 5 wait till next year, don’t feel pressurized by other people, she has plenty of time to figure out what she likes. And we have enough on our plates without racing around like a lunatic in the hope that little Jimmy will one day represent the country at Olympic level. Can’t we all just calm down and do nothing for a while….