Overbooked Children

The over-involvement of children in extracurricular activities is a major encroachment on the amount of time families spend together. Although benefits of such activities have been supported by research, too much of a good thing can disrupt family life.

Research shows that since 1981, children spend 12 fewer hours a week in free time, 25% less time in play, 50% less time in unstructured outdoor activities, double the time in structured sports, and 50% more time on homework. All of these activities limit the time children can spend with their family.

What can families do?

Limit participation in extracurricular activities. Consider how much time is spent in extracurricular activities by both parents and children, and how such involvement may actually distract from family time together. Be choosy in your involvement. For example, limit family members to two outside activities at a time (say, music lessons and playing on the soccer team) to free up family together time. If they want to add another activity, they need to subtract one from the existing group. They can rotate activities in and out depending on the season of the year, but not add to the list without subtracting something.

For Further Reading:

Take Back Your Time
edited by John de Graf

Putting Family First
by William J. Doherty and Barbara Z. Carlson

Additional Websites:Take Back Your Time
http://www.timeday.org/

Putting Family First
http://www.puttingfamilyfirst.org/