Am I Ruining My Kid?

Are You Sacrificing Too Much of Your Time?

Find that balance between your kid's extracurricular activities and having a life

Photograph by Getty Images

I’ll never have to worry about my kids being over-scheduled. Just getting them out of the house to school on time is a feat of massive proportions.

The choice to limit my kids’ participation in after-school activities is a conscious one, made from a myriad of thoughtful reasons, not just because it’s physically impossible for my husband and me to be in four places at once. My husband's job as a pilot means I’m usually on my own, making even a ballet class and soccer game on the same day nearly impossible.

Growing up, I would definitely characterize my existence as over-scheduled, every night a different activity, from ballet and violin lessons to drama and karate, plus rehearsals and performances and everything in between. Our car was my second home.

To be fair, I loved every single second of it, and my participation in extracurriculars certainly afforded me amazing opportunities, some of which influenced my former profession as a college music professor. Others, like ballet and theater, are still much-loved hobbies.

RELATED: Is a Busy Schedule Really So Bad?

But now as the parent, I think about all the money that my parents spent on pointe shoes and violin strings, not to mention the lessons and classes.

Then I multiply that by four children and realize we’d have to start skipping meals to pay for the soccer cleats and ballet tights.

And finances aside, I'm imagining my mother and brother in the car for all of those hours a day, both of them making huge sacrifices with their own precious time.

Then I have to wonder if it was really worth it.

I’ve always believed that our kids’ passions will emerge on their own, perhaps sooner for children who receive parental cultivation, but for all people in their own time. And as much as many parents want to push their kids in a specific direction at seemingly younger ages these days, I think that their energy could be better spent helping their kids discover their own interests.

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