Summer is over its time to settle into the welcome routine of fall. Kids are back in school and new fall activities are getting started. I always get a little anxiety when it comes to signing my kids up for new activities. I’m never sure how many activities are too much or too little. What is a good balance of not only activities but other areas of their life? I’ve learned that the answer to this varies from to family family and even child-to-child. Whenever I try to find the answer to finding the perfect life balance for my kids, I start to wish that parenting came with a manual. However, almost eight years into parenting, I’ve learned that you just have to keep adjusting until you find what works for your family.
My first stop in trying to figure a healthy balance for my kids and our family is doing a self-guilt check. I try to get rid of any guilt that I’m feeling. As much as I want to sign my kids up for everything, I know that it is not possible. It is not possible to run them everywhere after school everyday of the week, so feeling guilty is a waste of energy. Instead I turn my focus into a positive and think about how lucky they are to play sports and participate in fun activities within a loving community.
I also leave comparison at the door. It is so easy to look at every other family and compare how many activities that their kids are in or what they are doing. I become my own failure when I get wrapped up in worrying about what everyone else is doing. I’ve learned to redirect my energy and ask parents what they have their kids signed up for and why. I turn it into a resource and learning opportunity and apply it when trying to figure out the best solution for my family. Every kid is interested in different sports and every kid has different strengths. By asking questions and seeing all of the wonderful activities that other kids are participating in has opened my eyes to all of the opportunities out there to choose from.
Another important component to finding balance in our family is making sure that we have one night per week where we do not have anything scheduled. My kids need down time and so do I. They really look forward to the days they can come home and not have to run to the next thing on our schedule. Letting my kids recharge is just as important as having them involved in activities. I worry about kids in America being so far over scheduled and never having downtime, so this is conscious decision that I’ve made because it is truly important.
As my kids get older, I ask for their input. Yes, I make the majority of the decisions about what we will be doing and what our schedule looks because they are still young. At the same time, however, I want to make sure that my kids are having fun and enjoying the time they are spending doing various activities throughout the week. I want their buy in to what we will be doing so that they anticipate and look forward what we have scheduled. I also listen for cues to when they need more attention in an area of their life. For example, I know when its been too long since we’ve scheduled a playdate because they start to wish they had their friends over. Its helpful for me to be in tune with their cues as I navigate and meet their wishes and needs.
And lastly, as I try to find the right amount of balance for my kids and our family, I always make sure that we are spending our time each day in a way that matches what we value and our overall goals for the kids. When that is in alignment, I feel like I am doing my best. Family balance is all about making sure that everyone is able to spend time learning, growing, doing activities, and having family time. As I said in the beginning, perfect balance looks different in every family. Figure out what that is for yours and feel confident about it!