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Overscheduling?
Barney Mendoza line
ncp wrote in parenting101
I need a P101 reality check...

My 4-year old is currently in martial arts, which I try to bring him to as often as possible, so 3 days a week (at the minimum we go once a week). Now that summer is coming, he won't be in school three days a week. I wanted to sign him up for swimming classes with the town's Parks & Rec department, which would be 4 days a week. As I was flipping through the brochure, I unthinkingly asked him if he wanted to take basketball classes as well, and he was pretty enthusiastic (seriously, kid? You pick the ONE sport that I know nothing about and find mind-numbingly boring?). That would be one day a week.

So if we do sign him up for all of these activities, our summer schedule would look something like this:

Sunday: Indian Cultural group (can get very physical)
Monday: Swimming
Tuesday: Swimming, Karate
Wednesday: Swimming
Thursday: Swimming, Karate
Friday: Karate, Basketball (This would mean switching his private Karate lesson around a bit, possibly to Saturday ohdeargod)

This is too much for a not-particularly-athletic four-year-old, isn't it? He enjoys being active, and is very enthusiastic about new activities. We can definitely afford it all (Parks and Rec classes are pretty cheap, just ask Leslie Knope), and it would help me be a better mom if we had a set routine for the summer. I'm just worried about him getting too tired to handle it. Also I'd have to haul the baby around to all of these activities as well, and he'll be in his "put me down I wanna try to crawl" phase.

If this were your kid, how would you prioritize?

Wow, that is a lot! I'd say keep the karate since it seems to be something he really enjoys and have him pick one other thing for the summer. Having something everyday would make it hard to go on vacation or drop everything for an awesome play date.

At 4 I would pick 1 activity, possibly upping to 2 during the summer, but with scheduled activity not happening more than 3 days a week.

Seconding. That's about my schedule for my almost 3 year old. She has one activity now, and will have two come fall. Both are only once a week. I like having lots of time for going to the park, free play, etc.

I feel like that's pretty normal. Kids need a lot of entertainment and exercise and this seems like a really positive way to do that. If he complains then maybe ax something.

Why are swimming classes 4 days a week?

Depends on the location and the schedule at the pool/rec center you go to. Our small-town rec center only has the pool open between June and August. Swimming lessons are done in two weeks. There is one lesson a day Monday through Friday and then after two weeks, you're done. Alternatively, if I drive 20 minutes to the neighbouring town, lessons are one day a week over 9 weeks.

Yeah the ones where I live are all 1 a week for 8-10 weeks depending on the pool.

You didn't say how long the various activities are, but when a kid is not in school and has lots of energy to get out, I don't think that an hour or two of scheduled physical activity a day is too much, kind of inconvenient for you hauling the baby around,yes, but for him it'd probably be fine. If you sent him to a Y type camp (which might be 5 and up, but go with it for the sake of my point here), for instance, he'd be there 7 hours a day and probably running around playing physical games for at least half that time. Think about the inverse situation too, you'd probably go a little nuts trying to come up with ways to entertain him if you didn't have a plan for getting out of the house most days.

If it were me, i'd pick one activity to focus on. Right now, my 4 yo has preschool 3 days per week and I cannot wait for the school year to wrap up.

I am not giving her the chance to do any activities this summer. Our family activity is going to be travel. My family all lives 300 miles away and onc she finishes school we are headed out there. Then back home to see daddy and do a one week preschool practice camp that he was invited to participate in. Then probably back to my parents. Then hopefully to the beach (roughly 600 miles). Then home and that will bring us up to August. We do a shore visit in sept with dh's family.... So there is more than enough going on.

To be honest, that's similar to my kid's schedule. She likes to be busy, she likes to be around other kids.

However, I also did your thing of not feeling compelled to make every practice.
Here's an example based on her current and past activities:
Swim Team: 4 days a week. We commit to making it to 2 days a week. (Normally, we make it to 3 days a week.)
Karate: 2 days a week. We commit to 3 days over 2 weeks (IOW if we only go once this week, we'll go both days next week)
Basketball: 1 practice, 1 game per week, we commit to both
Soccer: 1 practice, 1 game per week, we commit to both
Lacrosse: 1 practice, 1 game per week, we commit to both
Art: 1 lesson a week, committed
Piano: 10min practice/day, 1 lesson a week, we commit to the *total* amount of practice, plus the lesson. So on days when she has swimming + art, piano's unlikely to happen so it'll get made up the next day.
Gymnastics: 1 practice a week, entirely for fun, no committment
Dance: 1 practice a week, for fun, commitment when there's a performance, otherwise no committment
and so on.

Basically, if other people are counting on her, we commit. Otherwise, we tend to be flexible. Things like swim team and karate need regular participation in order to learn & improve, so there's a strongish but flexible commitment.

I'd only limit him if you think the baby's going to be an issue and there won't be things to do with the baby while your older one's doing his activities.

I'd be fine with it. Summer is long, and you have to keep 'em going.

My nanny kids have their whole summer planned out already-5 and 3. A bunch of week-long day camps (usually 9 to 3, some only 9 to noon) but they have year round gymnastics and dance twice a week in the evenings, and a late afternoon swim camp that lasts 3 weeks. I guess it just depends on what your kid can handle-if my nanny kids don't have physically strenuous structured activity, they go nuts and become more prone to fighting with each other and whining. I'd personally err on the side of having too many activities and then cutting one if it's too much to handle than underscheduling and having a grouchy bored kid with no available spots left to put him in.

I don't think so, how long are the classes and how many weeks? There's nothing holding you to completing or attending everything if it doesn't work out. These aren't competitive sports or anything either, just classes so there shouldn't be a ton of pressure. Would he not be getting the same amount of activity if he weren't enrolled in a 1-2 hour class in a given day?

It depends on the kid. For my daughter a schedule like this would work well. She started kindergarten this year which has a full day schedule, then 4 of those days we had afterschool activities. Half way through the year I cut it down to 2 days of activities afterschool, but not because she was too tired. She just didn't have time to ride her scooter or play in the neighborhood and I wanted her to have some unstructured free play time.

I'd say sign him up, give it a try, and just make adjustments as you see how he's handling it.

If you can sustain it and he enjoys it, go for it. You can always drop something if it isn't working for you or him.

If the rest of the day is free and you don't mind hauling him around, I don't think that's too much. Now, if this were after camp and whatnot I'd say "Geez, let the kid take a break!" but that's not the case, is it?

If you opted to drop something, I'd drop the basketball or one or two days of karate or swimming (so you'd have EITHER of them on a day, not both). Not, however, ALL of karate or swimming - he enjoys karate, and swimming is a life skill. I assume the Indian Cultural Group is a priority simply because it's your heritage and you want him to be part of that.

How long are the classes? What does the rest of your typical day look like?

My 3 year old "homeschooled" daughter's (we don't do any lessons, so, uh, "unschool" for now? whatever) week looks like...

Monday: 45 minute dance class
Tuesday: 30 minute art class, 1 hour farm class (this one is only a few weeks)
Wednesday: regular playgroup
Thursday: blank, but usually play with friends
Friday: blank, but usually play with friends

I want to keep the dance and art, and would love to add in gymnastics if I can afford it.

I'm a classic over-scheduler, but if I could swing it, I would go for it. I am of the mentality that it's better to try and then give up and waste half the registration fee than never try at all. You never know what will take (swimming recently took for my 4 year old, when I totally thought that money was going to go down the drain). Research shows kids don't get stressed from being busy, so as long as it doesn't overstress the parent there is a benefit.

also, to add, as our kids go to full time preschool, the most we've ever added were 2 extra-circulars, but if they were at home with me we'd be all over the ****ing place. :)

I tend to drop classes in the summer, so we can hit the beach/mountains/themepark/ect on a moments notice. We load up on classes in the cold, winter months instead.

That being said, that is a VERY full schedule for a four year old. My 5 year old is enrolled in African Drumming(Wed.), Sportability(Fri.), and soccer(Sat.), and we sometimes have to skip a class because he's tired. At 4, I'd let him pick one or two classes max. It's not only hard on him, it'll be hard on you too.

I would go for it, but be flexible if it seems too much for him, you, or the baby.

It really depends on the kids.

It doesn't seem like too much to me, but if it's too much for you, I would prioritize swimming over all else. It could save his life.
My (older) kids have swim team 5 days a week during the summer among other things.

It doesn't sound like too much to me. But if its more than you want to do, or more than you think is best for your child, then drop something.

Holidays are a bit different from term-time IMO. We do swimming lessons over the summer here, 2 series of 2 weeks, daily lessons (we only usually do one series but this is government subsidised so nice and cheap).

Is the swimming all summer, or just for a few weeks? Swimming is a great summer activity but is tiring for kids, maybe leave the basketball for another time, or cut down the karate while swimming is also on, depending on how he goes? Can you go in the pool with the baby while your 4yo is having a lesson? Take baby to the park while some of the karate lessons are on?

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