Bogged down: Too many activities? *iStock photo
Bogged down: Too many activities? *iStock photo

Why do we do it? Is it peer pressure? Is it a desire to give our children the best possible start in life, regardless? Do our children actually enjoy it? Is it good for them?

What am I talking about? I am talking about parents who get their children involved in club after club and after school activities galore.

I did it, once. Then realized two things: 1. My children were not really enjoying it (and therefore not really benefiting) and they were exhausted by the end of the week, and 2. As working parents, we were just compounding the stress we already felt. (We were also spending a small fortune.)

It was not a happy place to be in.

Now the kids do two things: one in school and one out of school. The result is they are not tired, there is time to be kids and play, they enjoy what they do (therefore benefit) and we have time to be with them, enjoying the type of quality parent/child time that is so important.

So, I go back to my original point, why do we do it and is it just a middle class thing, driven by that typical middle class attitude of doing more is good, coupled with a fear of failure — almost a sense of insecurity …. others are doing it, therefore so must we?

There is pressure like never before to succeed, to get the grades, but somehow involving children in too many activities seems like hot-housing and I have to question whether children really benefit and in the end just suffer burn-out? Would they do just as well, if not better, without the added pressure? I think, yes.

We old folks are fond of saying ‘back in the day’, when we came home from school and played in the back yard at football and cricket with the neighbours, getting called inside for supper before going out again, only to be called in again when it became dark.

There was still time to do the homework before a shower and bed and a very good night’s sleep.

The only thing I had during the week was rugby training, with a game on Saturdays, sometimes Wednesdays as well. 

I did music during school time. It was not much different for my peers. I did okay, I think... 

What do you think? I’d like some feedback for next week’s column. E-mail or tweet with him @jeremydeacon1

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