When people think of “busy” the image of a parent with a full schedule is usually a common image. With more and more families containing working parents these days, it is no wonder parents are seen as the busy ones. Between taking care of the family, running errands, keeping up with a career – and not to mention hobbies or passions if one has the time – parents are often running around, maintaining their hectic lives. But when people think of kids, they tend to think of bygone, carefree days full of imagination and play time, right?
Along with busy parents, there are busy kids. With more social and academic pressures in our society urging parents to keep their kids active, to have them participate in sports, after school activities, take up an instrument, learn a language, or join a variety of different clubs, kids may be overworked, too.
For teens, activities are a great way to bolster a college application and is something that many establishments look for when it comes to choosing prospective students. Younger kids may be along for the ride, especially if mom and dad, as well as their siblings, are constantly busy.
Whether kids are part of a club because their friends are or simply because there is no one to pick them up after school until one parent or the other becomes available, kids may feel stress and pressure from constantly running around as much as their older family members do.
Some kids are simply active and energetic, and that is completely normal, so how can you tell whether your child is stressed? Here are some warning signs:
● If your child often expresses or visibly shows symptoms of tiredness, anxiety, or even depression (loss of interest, appetite, apathy, etc.)
● If they complain of headaches or stomachaches (these can be due to stress, missed meals or lack of sleep)
● If they fall behind on school work, if their grades drop
If you notice these issues, then it is important to take action – but what is there to do? If your child’s busy schedule relies on the general activeness of the rest of the family, then you may need to make some adjustments, but overall it is important that you discuss these things with your child and understand what it is that they want. Here are some things that you can do to help:
● Agree on activities and arrangements ahead of time, and check in with them periodically to see how things are going
● Establish carpools and other things that can help make life easier
● Try to balance activities for your kids, and yourself
● Make room for quality family time
● Set shared priorities
● Know when to say no
However, keep in mind that it is important to SLOW IT DOWN. Take a moment and think about your child’s life and what they may be experiencing. If it’s hectic, sit down together and decide where you can cut back. If it’s overly structured, set aside time for blowing off some steam. Downtime is crucial for these times and staying home, relaxing, reading a book together is probably much needed rest a child needs.