As parents, we are challenged with all types of decisions relating to our children’s well-being. Some choices are harder to make than others. Last year, we faced ongoing battles with schoolwork and attitude from one of our elementary-aged children.
Homework was a battle every night, and grades were slipping. Exhaustion and tiredness caused more whining, back-talking, and just a generally bad attitude. Commute time to school plus dinner time plus homework plus bath time was just too much when coupled with after-school activities several days per week. It just was not working well for us, and it felt like everyone was miserable.
While we encourage well-roundedness in our kids and appreciate the physical activity and community involvement that come with sports, gymnastics, dance, etc., we had to make a tough call on how things needed to change at our home for one of our children.
After making it through the summer, we planned to take things slower for fall. With an elementary-aged child, we knew how vital it was for our child to be progressing in school to achieve foundations of reading and math and learning study skills. We didn’t want our evenings to feel so stressful, and we didn’t want to race from place to place anymore. We paused extra-curricular activities for the semester and focused on general happiness, more downtime, and homework with more time to breathe and not rush.
So what happened? While there is definitely some parenting guilt about taking away the fun activities, of which my child is pretty talented, I can tell you that it worked for us. Pausing for a semester and simplifying things is just what we all needed. The attitude problem (and exhaustion) improved, school interest and test grades improved, and overall, we experienced a more agreeable child.
As we enter the next semester of the school year, we are having discussions about slowly adding back one activity at a time for our child. We will be careful to select which day(s) of the week we commit to an activity, which time in the evening is most suitable for our child and our family, and which activities are best suited at this time. We don’t want to hold extra-curricular activities forever, but we know we need to be cautious and plan well with how we proceed. Movement and activity are so important for children (and adults too), but we can see how balancing our hectic schedule and our child’s own personality should be carefully considered. Wish us luck as we determine our next moves and work our schedule with a happy kid in the coming months!