How to Stop Overscheduling Your Kids

Tips for Unleashing Some Much Needed Down Time

Use these tips to put an end to overscheudling your kids. Photo E USAG Humphreys at

Participating in extracurricular activities can be fun and educational, but overloading your kids with too many commitments becomes a scheduling nightmare—not just for them, but for you as well. Use the following tips to stop the madness and put an end to overscheduling your kids:

Set priorities.

Decide what really matters to you and to your children. Is your goal to increase their social interaction?

Meet other families? Get exercise and be part of a team? Answers to these questions will help guide your decisions so that you can scale back on overscheduling without compromising what you want for your children.

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Ask your kids for input.

Allow your kids to have a voice in deciding which activities they want to pursue. In addition, reassess each commitment at the end of the season and again just before sign-ups begin. 

Sample activities before you commit.

Want to see if your kids love soccer or basketball without making a season-long commitment? Reach out to your local YMCA or youth sports league for short-term or intramural sports leagues. 

Schedule activities around your routines.

Too many families schedule their lives around their kids' activities instead of the other way around. To combat this trend, take a look at your family's routines—the things you do on a regular basis.

This includes everyday routines like getting ready for school and eating dinner together to weekly routines like family meetings and your regular parenting time or visitation schedule.

Team up with your ex.

If your ex is involved in your kids' lives, have a conversation about your their activities. He or she may have additional insight into your kids' natural talents and interests and may be more than happy to share the carpooling burden, as well.


Discuss conflicts openly.

If your ex disagrees with you about how many activities your kids should be involved in each season, talk about the issue openly. Explain your reasoning and be specific about making space for down time or opting out of activities your kids don't enjoy (or ones that seem to generate the most stress).

Be prepared to share some examples from your own observations, too. For example, showing signs of anxiety or becoming easily overwhelmed by little things—like a homework assignment you know your child is capable of completing independently—could be signs that your child is over-scheduled and needs more unstructured play time.

If, on the other hand, you think your ex is overscheduling your kids on purpose in order to minimize your parenting time, you should address the issue and also speak with your lawyer about your concerns. He or she can help you identify precise examples of where your ex is violating the court ordered custody and/or visitation agreement and help you take steps toward resolving the issue amicably. If you are unable to reach a reasonable resolution outside of court, your lawyer may recommend filing a motion asking the court to uphold the child custody order and hold the other parent in contempt.