By the time my kids were 2 — a time where their age can still reasonably be measured in months — I had people asking me what activities they were signed up for. Mommy and me yoga, languages classes, art classes, dance, gymnastics, swim. And it only got more insistent as they got older. T-ball, basketball, baseball, karate, cheerleading, horseback riding, coding, rock climbing, and even underwater basket-weaving. But my kids didn't start enjoying extracurricular activities until at least 4, and they only get one each. I just refuse to go overboard with my kids extracurricular activities. Not only am I not sorry, but I think it's a good move for our family.
And, hey, different strokes for different folks, right? Some people love to be busy, kids and adults alike. They thrive on a buzzing routine — Monday, Friday, Saturday for baseball; Tuesday for gymnastics; Wednesday and Sunday for soccer; what have you. They enjoy moving from activity to activity, like life is a cruise-ship and you're going to get every penny's worth. But, for many people, I fear the increasingly common jam-packed schedules are motivated less by a real desire to live this way, and more out of a sense that if you don't live like this you're doing something wrong or, worse, you're lazy or failing as a parent.
It's wonderful to provide our children with enriching, challenging activities. An extracurricular activity can build confidence, skill, and can be a lot of fun — and even when they're not there's value in learning that, too. (Michelle Obama famously made her daughters choose a sport they wanted to do and one she wanted them to do to learn about overcoming challenges and trying new things.) But, at least for me, there's a limit. At a certain point, the benefits are outweighed by how much it's taking from other areas of family life. So with that in mind, here's why I refuse to let our schedules be dominated by too many "extras":