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toddler

Am I Overscheduling My 4-Year-Old?

toddler

Last month, my daughter started soccer. She is 4 years old, and I still can’t tell if she likes the game itself, the running around, or the shiny ball on the team t-shirt best. It really doesn’t matter. She is outside, burning off her seemingly endless buckets of energy, and she is enjoying herself.

She also recently started karate. Class attendance is a minimum of twice a week. She seems to get something out of the discipline and the camaraderie, and we have been thrilled to watch her bring home many of the lessons she learns on the mat.

She is also in pre-K three full days a week. She is learning social skills along with much needed school skills so that she is prepared for kindergarten next year. She has been at the same school since I started my freelance writing career when she was 18 months old.

As her mother, I know it is my job to worry. I am very good at it. I come from a long line of worriers, and each was able to worry more than the last.

Now, my most recent worry is that I am overscheduling my daughter—and interfering with her freedom to “just be a kid.”

I want her to try dance. I want her to try other sports. I want her to try it all, but I also want her to have time to just “be.” Am I getting in the way of that? When is it all too much?

She is too young to make her own choices. It’s our responsibility to make some of them for her. To show her the world and let her decide how she wants to live in it. But at what cost?

Recently, because of these worries, we cut back on some of the activities. Next year she will be in Kindergarten which is every day. She will also have Hebrew school which is two days a week. Maybe now is the time to take a breather.

So we decided to cut out the karate for now. We also chose to not enroll her in anything else until her soccer league is over for the season. Her schedule now is three full days of pre-k, two full days home with me, and one scheduled activity on the weekend. The rest of her time is open for whatever activities we all decide to do together as a family.

We take our cues from her. We take our own history into consideration. For now, we are minimizing activities. There are all kinds of fall events going on in our area, and we do not want to miss them because she is too tired or too busy. So until she is old enough to decide on her own, we’re making this call to pull back on the activities.

I think that she should get to be a kid first and foremost. I hope I am right.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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