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Fayette-Mom: Just saying no to extracurriculars

Posted September 13, 2010

Jennifer Joyner

This year, I am taking a stand.

My children’s friends have tons of activities … soccer, tennis, golf, piano, dance … you name it. For a while, I tried to keep up. I signed my kids up for several activities, plus they had school and church activities.

It was way too much. My children need down time, and suddenly they had very little. We were constantly hurrying to one activity or another, and the kids were grumpy. So was I. Wasn’t this supposed to be fun? Why in the world were we doing this?

This year, I asked my kids: “Emma, do you want to do dance again this year?” She answered with an adamant “No.” She had no desire, and frankly, I wasn’t excited about paying the high fees every month, plus the cost of costumes and tap shoes. My son Eli is a little older than his friends, so if he played soccer again, he’d have to “age up” to an older team with no one he knew. He said no. And that’s fine with me.

They both have school every day. They go to choir on Wednesday nights and Sunday school. Emma is starting a Daisy group that meets every other week. And that’s it for now. We may revisit soccer in the spring when Eli’s friends age up. But for now, our afternoons are a little more relaxed, and we’re all enjoying it.

Well, except first grade homework (argh!!!). But that’s another post……

Jennifer is the mom of a five- and six-year-old. She gathers news for WRAL in Fayetteville and anchors two morning radio newscasts. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," is published by Globe Pequot Press. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.

10 Comments

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  • i feel froggy Sep 20, 2010

    I agree with no extra stuff! Church one night during the week is our extra activity. Otherwise we spend time together at home, per my child's choice. She's just not into all the extras, which is fine by me because after working all day, I'd rather go home and cuddle up/spend time together! :) So Kudos to you Jennifer.

  • sww Sep 15, 2010

    At one point we made a rule in our house, one sport and one other activity for each kid and that was it.

  • cczahnow Sep 14, 2010

    Bravo for you! I hope more parents will follow in your footsteps! Parents seem to think that kids have it worse now than any other time in history but they don't stop to think about all the activities that are piled on them! Please let kids be kids - play outside in the sunshine, lay around and daydream about what they want to be when they "grow up." Don't force them to grow up too soon! (www.save-the-teens.com)

  • Killian Sep 14, 2010

    IBleedRedandWhite -- Good! I'm always glad to hear of a kid who is on the right track. And you're right. Colleges are turning away kids with perfect 4.0 averages if they didn't do anything else. Academics need to be a priority, but not the sole focus, of a teen's life. Real life experiences that come from sports, clubs, a job, community service, etc, are just as important to the development of the whole person.

    Kudos to you; I wish you all the best!

  • IBleedRedandWhite Sep 14, 2010

    Killian- you are absolutely right. Many colleges now look at how many extra curricular activities you have as well as your grades to see how well-rounded you are. I was a four sport athlete through school and weight room in the summer. The only stipulation was I had to keep at least a 3.0 GPA. I was so busy with sports that I never did drugs, drank, etc. I was too concerned about trying to get a scholarship that I did not want to do anything to jeopardize that. Some activities on a child's plate is a good thing. But when you are constantly shuttling kids back and forth, that's when it is too much!

  • Lab mom Sep 14, 2010

    I tell ya, my daughter is in the 3rd grade. She does voice, dance, pageants and church on Wednesday and Sunday. I have to say we are into way to much. I will not do all this again. She is keeping up but I still think its to much. I agree, only one activity.

  • Killian Sep 14, 2010

    We always had a rule of "one activity per season." No exceptions were made until 7th grade and then, only if they kept their grades up. But even then the limit was two. (Slight overlaps were fine, of course.)

    I think extracurricular activities are great overall, but they can absolutely be overdone. There have been studies that show that kids who are involved in sports and clubs have a lower incidence of teen pregnancy and substance abuse. It also looks better on their college applications.

    But when kids are oversheduled, parents are overscheduled. It isn't worth the stress to go to extremes!

  • CarolinaWriter Sep 14, 2010

    I agree! My 5 year old started Kindergarten and she is adjusting to "big school". We did dance last year, but things were always so hectic on dance night that she got to the point where she did not want to go. Between church activities and family and friends, we keep her busy. She will also be starting piano lesson soon. We may revisit dance next year.

  • thefensk Sep 14, 2010

    I agree. There is no need to do everything. Initially our daughter did both dance and Brownies but when she graduated from Brownies she made the choice herself to stick with dance and let scouts go by the wayside. There were also more temporary extracurriculars she chose to do, like Quiz Bowl and Young Writers but dance was her main extracurricular. She's 24 and it is now her career.

  • wine_girl Sep 14, 2010

    We do soccer, tennis and Indian Guides. Soccer is every Tuesday and Tennis is every Thursday. Indian Guides meet twice a month. That's plenty for us! Actually, my son would sign up for EVERYTHING if he could... so this is extra curricular light for my fam!