Are We THAT Busy? Kid Activities

Updated on April 08, 2013
J.O. asks from Novi, MI
22 answers

I find a lot of moms (online) saying we're too busy, but we're all enjoying our activities. I seriously have been there, at home most of the day with the kids...and for us that doesn't work so well. The fact that our neighbors coach two sport teams makes MY head spin. I can only do one official sport a season per kid. It just doesn't feel like we're overbooked. I am wondering if other moms find their lives so drastically different (though of course the 5 kids probably makes for a busier schedule by default).

Typical Day:

7-year-old in school 9 to 5 (last 2 hours after-care program that child loves). And, twice a week a sport or music practice in the evening. This is a very active child who thrives on structure.
1 preschooler goes 5 days a week for 3 hours, the other 4 days a week for 5 hours. And, they really like it!
2-year-old will be 5 days a week preschool for 2-3 hours.
Baby 3 days a week for 2 hours in gym nursery (on-site of another child's school). Baby plays or sleeps and does perfectly fine there; loves watching the older kids play, too.
Weekends involve a sport game and usually swimming lessons, plus dance and Sunday school.

Then in summer :
The oldest does a camp daily, usually from 10 to 2pm (or 9 to 12, then home for lunch, and another camp 1-4). The full-day camps tended to be too monotonous, so this allows us to take advantage of some of the more structured specialty camps that are shorter. He loves it!). For example, building Legos in the morning, then soccer in the afternoon. A good mix of mind and body.
The preschoolers go to a daily summer preschool camp 9 to 12 (a series of different weekly camps with different themes, so it doesn't get old). (And the baby and toddler are simply along for the ride in the summer). Since it's light out, we'll add evening stuff based on what the kids want, like a sport class, etc.

I am the one telling my kids that no, we can't do X, Y and Z because we can't fit it in. I try to accommodate their interests, but I can't be two places at once.
I know families with multiple older kids, all in sports, and wow! We're not there yet. All I know is we're having fun and I'm grateful for the many enrichment opportunities our community offers. Of course, if being at home more and doing a lot less works for some families, that's great! I know a lot of my kids' friends play videos or electronics a lot, and we don't have any of that. Just a TV and yes, they (older ones) do get close to the AAP limit most days (even with lots of activities), but not over.

(Many of the activities are very low cost, run by volunteers. Part of the summer stuff is FREE. Yes, we're lucky they offer this. One of my kid's preschool's is totally free, too (he qualified based on a screening and is now doing really, really well). So no, this is not all costing the huge dollars it might seem like; I don't mean to imply that it's all expensive).

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So What Happened?

It seems like families differ quite a lot, from reading. We stay busy because it feels like the biggest battle of raising kids is trying to avoid all the electronic junk that takes up so much kids' time these days (and we don't even have video games, phones, computer time, etc., plus the kids are so young) The TV is bad enough. They always want to watch. When we have lots planned, they are not watching TV. At home that's all they want to do (and yes, I redirect and they must find something else to do). But any combo of the kids fight constantly at home. I hear some others talk about the fighting. That too gets cut out when we're at activities, and we get way more exercise as well.

And as a SAHM, I'd choose to pay to have them in activities over more time with me for sure. I'm not as fun as all these activities! Working parents probably feel different, maybe. I'd choose to have them in a fun childcare center full-time, but for 5 kids, now that gets expensive! But at least they get a varied schedule because I can drive a lot here and there, and I do (and I don't mind being a taxi).

Featured Answers



answers from Salinas on

Wow, you have 4 kids! Yes, you are busy. I only have 2 and the driving around also take a lot of time.

Do you ever feel like you did so much for the first and each child after a little less? I felt like I signed my son up for so many more things than my daughter. Anyway, I too love having extra activities for the kids. We also are starting a garden in the yard, so we do have activities at home. I do not think i have deprived her. I think some of the extra things i did with my son help me as a first time mom and now i know what activities are not worth the money and it is better to have a playdate tea party than ones put on my the museum for $45. I also sent my son to a more expensive preschool and now that he is in Kindergarten i realize that price of the preschool does not mean he will be more prepared in school. I still like that school, it is just too far of a drive and i found more affordable schools for my daughter.

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answers from Chicago on

Since there is no question here, I will just tell you what i think: You are over-scheduling your children, and robbing childhood from them! Please check out the book "the hurried child," or any other by the same author. Maybe even "Miseducation: preschoolers at risk."

Kids need free play. The best learning takes place in FREE PLAY. In fact, some recommend that kids do not take part in organized activities, games set up by adults, because it actually robs kids of learning. Old school neighborhood football games were ideal environments to learn problem solving, conflict negotiation, and lots of other skills. By not letting kids roam freely, by forcing organized play on them from a young age, we rob them of so many learning opportunities it isn't even funny. We supposedly do all of this in the name of learning and enrichment, but we actually don't. The research does not support any of this crazy business. The evidence supporting early education is very questionable for all children, save for the greatly impoverished. In fact, research shows that it increases aggression in middle class kids!

I'll be honest, reading the blog post today about the 5 year old asking for a "day off" everyday made me really sad. We are expecting too much of our kids at too early of an age, and then we wonder why they are all stressed with anxiety issues and other issues. 5 year olds need to run free. Everyday should be a day off. Why we want to force responsibility and so much structure on kids so early is beyond me. i think it's sad, and i wish more adults would fight for their kids to have actual childhoods.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I think your little kids are too busy, but to each their own. It's just that development from birth to 3 is best done with Mom. I just don't understand the point of staying home if you just cart kids everywhere. Alternately I think that kids who are always structured never learn how to be creative with their own time, and I don't think they learn to bond to each other as well.
It is terribly sad to me that your child is in after school care for no reason. It appears that YOU don't want them around and have convinced yourself that it if for their benefit.

Wanted to add, that my kids don't just watch TV either. We homeschool, so my kids are always with me. But they play sports, have book clubs, 4-H, and play ith friends. Also as a family we do chores and errands, ride bikes, camp, hike, raise a large garden, do art projects, go for walks, read stories of all kinds, go to plays, museums, zoos, try unique restaurants, volunteer, and other things that I left out. I think what is the worst is that you, the mom miss out on building memories with them. They might remember how much fun Lego camp was but they miss out on time as a family. You are teaching them to be the center of their own personal universe but not showing them that family and give and take, is what matters.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You know what I don't understand about you? You ask questions about your husband, your kids, the preschools...and every time, you do NOT listen to the answers. (That are generally, universally similar.) You make excuses and validate the opinion and answer you've already formed. You validate and make excuses for your spouse. You validate and make excuses for staying at home, but never seeing your own children. WHY are you even asking anything. You turn around in your "so what happened" and say we are doing this, we like it. Or, he is like this, so it's OK. Why waste our time. You simply want VALIDATION, not advice. You aren't getting it from us, so you just get it from yourself. WHAT IS THE POINT?

If you really want my opinion? (Not likely.) Your kid isn't bored. He doesn't know how to play with himself. You've made him reliant on being busy. You can't just BE around your own children. Your husband doesn't help, so you are alone, but make you make excuses for him. You are codependent on him, yet resent that you are alone in this. You want your ME time more then what is appropriate. (You pretty much want every day to yourself, without children there.) You don't care what we think, you want a pat on the back. There ya go.

I would never live how you do. YES, your children are too busy. YES, you are too busy. Ask yourself WHY.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

It seems like you are looking for a different set of answers to the same question. I still don't think you ought to have your 2 year old in "school" 5 days a week and your 15 MONTH OLD (a baby) in 2-3 days a week...not when you've opted to be a stay-at-home mom. Again, we do errands together.

It really isn't about being overscheduled, but about the wrong kind of scheduling.

During the school year, my 8 year old has Awana on Wed. evening and does a once a week tennis program for six weeks. I homeschool, so she's at home with me. We all (me, 8 and 3 year old) go to church on Saturday for 2 hours and again on Sunday for about 4 hours. We go shopping. We go to the park, the library, the Nature Center. Together.

During the summer, my 8 year old has tennis four days a week for two months, then 2 weeks of swimming lessons when that's done. She does a park play program once a week with AmeriCorp. We go swimming, hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, parking, picnicing, etc...but we do all those things as a family.

Again, my almost 3 year old is still a baby. I don't see any need to dump her off on this program or that program. A 2 year old doesn't want that...yours has just gotten used to it. There will be plenty of time for programs when she's old enough to express interest in them.

I honestly think your family would benefit by spending a bit more time together. Schedule the heck out of it if you want...key factor, do it together a little more often. I can't imagine my family constantly being at four different places when they don't have to be.

(I also absolutely agree with the sentiment that it seems like you prefer dumping your kids off at places instead of having them yourself, and are trying to justify it by saying it's good for them. No baby benefits from being dumped off somewhere, just so you know. Most people only do it because they have to, not because "oh, baby loves it!" Baby does NOT love it. I think THAT is something you need to come to terms with.)

And who cares about money? NO kid needs to go to two camps a day. Let your kids come home and be part of their own family for awhile!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

This poster has 5 kids, actually. And posts the same type of "question" frequently. It's getting old, fast!

But, what exactly is the point of this post? I don't see a question. It seems like you are constantly trying to get our validation on your choice to push your kids into various activities and classes. I mean, you are on here constantly asking for our input or letting us know how secure you are in your choices, and you seem to be in constant "defense" mode. You seem to think and obsess a lot over it, which makes it seem like you're not 100% sure about it all. Admit it, you can't stand being around your kids all day. Let's call a spade, a spade.

You only have one kid that is technically school age, yet you are still choosing to send the 3 smaller kids to preschool 5 days a week and the BABY to a crappy gym daycare for multiple days a week? Remind me why you stay home, exactly?

I can't believe your DH is happy with the stress of only living on one income, and on top of it, having a spouse who seems incapable of or lacks the desire to spend time with the kids at home, but instead shells out hundreds of dollars a month (unnecessarily) to keep them entertained by strangers and out of mom's hair? Again, why do you stay home, exactly?

No wonder your kids are always bored... they never get a moment to be kids, to learn how to entertain themselves. They are constantly fed activities and things to do so they never have to use their imaginations.

How about the post in which you wanted to put your school ager in after school care, so he was gone for 10 hours a day? Or the one about putting a 4 year old in full day summer camp? A 4 YEAR OLD!! What is the point of all of it? You're a SAHM. You seem to be confused as to what that actually entails. Your children aren't benefitting at all from being home with you, from where I sit. You might as well be at work helping to pay for all of the activities they're in so you don't have to deal with them.

And, on top of that, dad wants nothing to do with them. When exactly do you spend time together as a family, doing things together? It sounds like you don't. I find it all very sad. I really wish people would stop having helpless kids that they can't even stand being around for a full day. I only have one child, but I'm pretty sure I spend more time with her than you do with your kids, and I work! And guess what? She has one class one day a week for 45 mins. That's it. She gets to go outside and play with her friends and just "be" for the rest of the time.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I think that people have to do what works for their family and not worry about whether other people think that they are over or under doing it. If your kids are happy, doing well in school and healthy I think what you're doing is just fine.

How much to do largely depends on your kids as far as I'm concerned. My son is much more energetic and social than my daughter and would gladly be involved in numerous activities throughout the week. We can't keep up that kind of pace as a family though, so we limit both kids to two things. We do spend time doing things as a family on the weekends and a fair amount of time outside and it's a good balance for us.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Reading on

Since you sent me a private message, you already know my opinion. I don't understand why you need everyone here to validate your choices.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

honestly, having so many kids i don't know what i'd do. one kid like i have, or maybe two, i'd say one activity at a time per kid...okay. i was raised as one of four and we did not all get activities constantly. so i know that it is possible, and a great way to grow up.

also, i love my family and i love my home. i have no desire to be gone every single night from them.

many people that i know personally, who are very active with kids going 20 directions at once- also have these gorgeous homes (very "keeping up with the jones'") that they hardly ever spend time in, except to sleep. i just really don't get that lifestyle. personally i feel there is so much more joy to be had from a home and a family than constantly paying attention to other things. if you're driving, you're not focused on your kids. what kind of bonding do you get staring at them across a gymnasium or soccer field?

many of the families i know, have very rarely had a quiet relaxing night at home, just ENJOYING each other. i seem to appreciate and enjoy my one (and only) child more than several people i know personally with multiple kids. i have one relative with two boys, ages 3 and 1, who is NEVER home. like never. if she is home with her two children alone, she is on the phone seeing who she can go visit. she loves her kids. but i don't really think she gets as much out of being a mom as i do. i love her to death. i just don't think, in a way, she realizes how great she has it. it seems as though she is constantly "searching" for something more....something more exciting, something more interesting, something more entertaining.

we have these children which is such a huge responsibility. then, i know so many people, who spend SO much energy on "outside" things...there's not much left for inter-family relationships. just enjoying each other, getting inside each other's heads. i think that's the true calling of a parent.

i remember one day we "played hookie" - my son had a temperature for about five seconds so i stayed home from work with him. he ended up feeling fine. he was about 1 at the time. we had SO much fun that day. i have a ton of pictures that i took of him just playing. playing hide and seek, crawling around the floor. he discovered the spring loaded doorstop that day and spent forever giggling hysterically everytime he "thwapppp!" -ed it. lol. we didn't do anything but hang out together, just enjoying each other.

my house isn't that clean and it certainly doesn't hold up to the Jones', but we have so many precious memories here. i just eat 'em up. i WANT to be here. i don't WANT to be "out there". i prefer my family, and my home, over anywhere else in the world (ok except maybe a great getaway vacation occasionally lol). i know everyone is different in what makes them happy. and i know that working full time, i can't really relate to a sahm that just wants some peace and quiet away from her kids. but that's where i come from.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

J. O. -

Different strokes for different folks. It sounds like you've largely found your groove and with 5 kids, I applaud that. Meanwhile, if you really want to make room for X, Y, and Z, and don't currently have room in your schedule consider the following-
1. schedule two "nothing planned nights" per week. Use one to literally do nothing, or something at home together. (kids can run around in the backyard, or build sofa forts, or whitewash your fence). Use the second one to occassionally do X, Y or Z, which the kids are interested in doing, but you don't have time for currently.
2. Outsource. Just because you can't be in two places at once, doesn't mean you have to be with the child when they are doing X, Y or Z. If Jimmy down the street already does these activities, ask if his mom is willing to take your kid there and back. (be sure to return the favor).
3. Come to terms with it. It's OK for them not to get everything they are after. I would have had my parents get me a pet pony, in our one bedroom walk up apartment when I was younger. Glad they vetoed that bright idea.

Best to you and yours,
F. B.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I don't think you need to defend your choices. Every family has it's own rhythm and flow.
My kids have also always been fairly busy and active. But don't forget that learning how to use your imagination and keep yourself entertained are important skills to master too. So is being able to sit and read quietly for twenty minutes. If you find your kids saying "I'm bored" any time they're not "doing" something it means they need MORE unstructured time, not less.
In other words, as long you don't let their activities get in the way of their natural development, then they'll be fine.
Otherwise you'll end up with a houseful of teenagers demanding constant stimulation and entertainment, and I promise you that will be ugly.

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answers from San Francisco on

Where's the question?

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answers from Los Angeles on

Here is what a typical week looks like for us:

My son goes to kindergarten daily from 10:00 - 1:30. Most days we walk one or both ways (about 1/2 mile) to get a bit of exercise and fresh air.
He has a swimming lesson one morning a week before school (20 minute lesson + 20 minutes free play). He is on a baseball team that has 2-3 commitments per week (one or two games plus one practice). On Friday afternoons, his playgroup still meets up at the park and we go if we my younger one is up from her nap in time.

My younger daughter (almost 2.5) takes a music class and a gymnastics class. Each meets once a week for 45 minutes while my son is in school. She also does a a preschool class for 1.5 hours a week (also while he's in school). All of these activities are parent & me. She has a weekly playgroup as well. Again, this meets while my son is in school.

Basically, most mornings we have a relaxed morning at home until we leave for school at 9:45. While my older one is in kinder, my younger one and I do the various activities, run errands, go for walks (so I can exercise) and have lunch. I go kind of crazy home alone with her, so we spend most of the time out and about.

When we get home from school (around 2:00), my son eats lunch and then does 1 - 1.5 hours of quiet time upstairs (we read before he goes up). My daughter takes her nap as soon as we get home and is usually down till about 4:00. Most days, we don't do anything post-nap. Maybe play in the yard but often we just stay in the house. Once in awhile we meet a friend, or if my son has practice/games, we'll do that. I rarely schedule things for the afternoon though.

It's busy, but it works. I don't like being home too much. The kids fight a lot more when we're home than when we're out.


answers from Norfolk on

We didn't get our son into a regular activity (taekwondo) until he was 7 yrs old.
He wasn't ready to listen or follow directions until then.
We did try one session of The Little Gym when he was 4.
He did alright but didn't really enjoy it - and the last day where all the parents came and took pictures gave him a horrible case of stage fright.
He really enjoyed just coming home after pre-school and playing with his cars/toys.
On weekends during the summer we'd do county fairs, fire house open houses (we had a fire house that did a Sat morning pancake breakfast once a month - he really loved that) but there was no fixed schedule.
Now he's in middle school - still takes taekwondo, and he's in band - and that's all the activities we can handle (and still keep his straight A's up).



answers from Boston on

Sounds totally normal to me. I have 4 kids ages 7-15. 15 yo daughter does mixed-martial arts 3 days a week year round and takes art classes outside of school because she can't fit it into her scheduled in school. 15 year old son plays hockey 4-9 times a week for 8 months a year (2 teams at once for 3 of those months) and does 8 weeks of 1-night skills and 3-days off-ice training a week during the summer. 9 year old and 7 year old son play one sport a season - right now it's lacrosse - each has 2 practices and 1 game a week. Naturally their practices are alternating nights so we're at the practice fields M-Th evening and have two games on Sundays. They all take religious education classes. My husband and I both work FT and I teach/tutor a few nights a week. It's a crazy life but works for us!

It sounds like you and your kids have a lot of energy and interests. If it works for you, don't worry about what other people think.



answers from Portland on

ETA: After reading other answers, I did check your profile and found this question repeatedly asked. I will say this: IF you are having to ask the same question so many times, it sounds like something inside you isn't sitting well. Or, perhaps the criticisms do have a ring of truth. Personally, I don't need the validation of strangers for something I am doing which feels *right* to me. If I received criticism which I felt was unwarranted, I would just blow it off, not ask for other people's opinions.

And yes, for me, your schedule would be way too much-- but then again, we made the choice to only have one child because that was what I knew I could reasonably manage. I am not going to slam you for your decisions, but be aware that what other posters warn about is often right: kids without a lot of downtime to get bored tend to expect to be entertained and are often lost regarding what to do on their own, which can result in an entitled attitude and poor behavior. I have observed this over a number of years working with kids. When I was a nanny, it was always the families who expected me to have their kids busy *constantly* which were the ones with the most behavior problems. Kids who were taught/expected early on to have some time each day to 'just go play' usually did a lot better.
Just a word of warning.

If having the kids at home is too much, consider Love and Logic or look into some resources for arranging a more harmonious home life. Remember, too, that your neighbors might use the media/tv to keep their kids busy, but a lot of us don't.

original post:

I think every family has to do what feels right and balanced for them. No one else lives your life, no one else can make those scheduling decisions for you.

I have a kid who thrives on open-ended down time. He does a half-day kindergarten in the mornings from 8:45-12, home for lunch, and then he's got homework/eye exercises (eye therapy), some free play time, and by the time we are done with that, it's usually time for a snack (3 oclock) and his 1/2 hour program. That's four o'clock by then! We play a game or work in the garden-- I feel like he's not getting enough outside playtime, personally. He'll be taking two enrichment courses from 3-4 this season; an art class and a Mad Science course. For my kid, this is plenty. We also schedule playdates with friends-- he would prefer those connections to taking a sport. (I do have him signed up for a one-week morning soccer camp this summer-- I think it's good for him to have at least one sport he will know how to play with buddies.) I'm sad to think that come first grade, we'll have even less time to be home and putter around together.



answers from New York on

I get your question now... People say you're too busy and you're wondering if you really are. No, seems fairly reasonable to me if your 7 year old likes this schedule. It really depends on the child. I just listen to mine. My oldest likes being out and about. My younger likes being home. Even with my older liking to be out though, she didin't want to do aftercare for long. First she asked for it so I said ok. Then she stopped wanting to go so I said ok to that too. It's a long day for your 7 year old but if he wants to go, then sounds good. My youngest never wanted to go. So just listen to your kids.



answers from Tampa on

It's only too much if you feel like it is and have trouble managing everything. If your kids are happy and not overtired and you are keeping up with things reasonably well, then maybe you have found the right balance. Different families have different thresholds for activity. You just have to find what works well for your particular family.



answers from Wausau on

My older son gets up at 6:15 and is home from school at 3:15. Tuesday is Chess Club after school until 4:00.

My younger son is up at 7:30 and gets home around 3:50. Until recently, he had a Tuesday club at school that ran until 5:00.

They have karate on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 5:20 to 6:10. Nothing on weekends.

When they were 4 respectively, they went to preschool 2 days a week for 2.5 hours each day. They didn't have any kind of scheduled activity prior to that.

From Birth to 4, they were with me for their education and entertainment.



answers from Dallas on

I only have two and luckly my oldest is in band and piano lessons. And the lessons are done at our house where the teacher comes in. He usually has them before I even get home from work. But my youngest has gymnatics Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4:30 to 7:30 and twice a month on Saturday from 9am to noon. So there is not a lot of time for much else. Monday and Wednsdays are usually our down time or shopping days. That is after I get home about 5:30. Then got forbid my oldest have a concert on a practice night. Then depending on how late the concert is youngest may go to part of his practice and then to the concert. The gym is 30 mins away so we can't just drop him off and go home and do stuff. And then of corse now is compation season and at least once a month we have a compation that we are at all day. This weekend was his state compation and we got there about 11am and didn't get to leave till about 7:30pm. I totally understand you telling them only one thing at a time. They get even busyer the older they get!!!!



answers from Denver on

You do what you gotta do. If it feels right for you, then it's right for you. Doesn't matter what the rest of us think. Enjoy your life and don't worry whether we agree you're making the right choices. Just make sure they ARE the right choices *for you*.


answers from Grand Forks on

It doesn't sound like too much, really. We rarely spend a day at home. When my kids were little we went to lots of different play groups, because I don't like to sit around at home. I liked to get out and meet people. I do like to leave lots of free time open for outings (museum, zoo, art gallery, pool, beach), and I let my kids bring friends along. Now that the kids are older they usually want time to hang out with friends here or to go to friends houses to play. My kids go to weekly swim lessons year round, they usually do a sport twice a week, do drop in programs at the Y, they both sing in choirs and Sunday school. I am home with them all summer, so I don't do a lot of day camps, but I have already planned five camping trips for summer vacation, plus a week at YMCA Family Camp. We have a free summer day camp I can drop them off on days that I need to run errands or want to go for a massage etc. If you don't have time to clean the house, or cook meals, or if your kids are tired and cranky or not doing well in school, then yes, maybe you are too busy. If you are all happy with the amount of activity, not over tired, and the work still gets done, then no, you aren't too busy.

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