Too Much To Do

toddler drums

Picking up the phone, the lovely lady on the other end of the line asked me about programs where her child would “actually learn something.”

“How old is he?” I inquired.

“Four,” she responded.

From there, our conversation weaved in and out of exploring the multitude of arts programming the non-profit organization I work for offers. The challenge was, this particular parent felt it was time for her kiddo to dive into something, to start to become an expert in an area versus an explorer.

The one part of me wanted to tell her, “Lady, he's four. His job is to explore the world and find joy in learning anything and everything.”

I held my tongue. I understood where she was coming from.

I want to give my child the world. I want her to have every opportunity.

Don't we all?

As soon as my munchkin turned six months old, I swished her into swimming  class. Soon after came “gym” programs, art classes, dance, more swim, and now, gymnastics. On top of this, there is preschool and play dates.

What is the value of these “extracurricular” activities?

Obviously, I am a believer. There are the relationships we've formed with other families. There is also the exposure to new activities, ideas, places, and faces. If you've been reading long enough, you know I'm a believer in the “it takes a village to raise a child” philosophy and I intend to use the resources I can to give her the best shot at being everything she wants to be as she grows up.

With all this said, this summer, we have been on overload. There's clay class and dance on Tuesdays, gymnastics on Wednesdays, and swimming on Sundays. Adding to this are evenings at the pool, plenty of play dates, and all the fun that comes with summer.

I'm whipped from all this running around.

Don't get me wrong, I've definitely seen her grow as a result of these programs. However, at times, I begin to wonder:

How many activities are too many activities when it comes to supporting your child's growth and development?

What is the right mix of scheduled activities and just time to play that will best support growth and development?

My rule was 2 + 1 + 1 = a balanced family.

What does that equation mean?

It means no more than two regularly scheduled activities (like a class) a week for the kiddo, one activity for me (yoga!), and one for the hubby (his woodworking hobby).

Obviously, my math ability has failed this summer.

Where and how do you find balance of activities and down time in your family's life?

As for me, I'm counting down and going back to my basic math as fall comes around.

What do you think?

Too Much To Do

Jeannie Fleming-Gifford is a mama to one little lady, freelance writer, and the director of education for a non-profit community school of the arts. Graduating with a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Child Development, Jeannie began her career in quality child development programs as a teacher, then moved into creative administrative roles with science centers, symphony orchestras and arts programs. Owner of 170+ year old house, Jeannie loves living in small town America where walks to the park and ... More

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