How Many Activities Are Too Many?
July 27, 2022
Mercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor
Questions to Ask Before Adding More
There are many really good activities calling us out of our homes. Whether it is academic enrichment classes, physical education, music lessons, history co-op, field trips, art, or park days, the choices can be overwhelming. Since every family’s homeschool dynamic is different, there is no clear way to distinguish what is best for everyone. But we can employ guidelines and ask questions that help us all make good choices.
- Is there a lot of stress in the home already?
- How easy or difficult is it to get out of the house with everyone?
- Does the family have enough down time?
- Would adding another activity put the atmosphere of the home in jeopardy?
- Would you have enough time to do the necessary schoolwork, chores, and Bible study if you add another activity?
- Does my child have a bent for this activity already and would it benefit him further?
- Would it improve his skills or just use his skills?
- Would it be an outlet for cooped up energy?
- Could we find a way to do the same thing at home?
- Can more than one child participate?
- Does it incorporate ministry or evangelism? (A huge plus!)
- Does it fit with our educational themes and goals this year, or can it wait?
- Do we really have the time/energy to make this commitment?
If you are already feeling guilty that you cannot cook dinner every night or keep up with basic housekeeping, you might need to think about what activities are draining your time or energy. If your home life is already full, you will need to reconsider taking on another activity, or take something else off the calendar to fit in something new. We must learn to evaluate not only the short- and long-term benefit of the activity, but how this extra activity will affect our home and our family.
These articles from The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine give advice to help us avoid overcommitting ourselves.
A Liberating Look at Time Management by Stacy Farrell
Organization for the Relaxed Homeschool by Mary Hood
Homeschool Planning Using Checklists and Schedules by Malia Russell
Often, when we do too much outside the home, it throws off our family’s ability to bounce back and complete the important things like finishing necessary homework, or just regrouping and thinking clearly. It could affect our ability to react graciously because we are tired. Sometimes adding new activities not only takes new energy but can also take time to get back to a normal, operational state when we get home.
On the other hand, some activities are just what the Lord ordained for us and our children and have become the impetus for future plans and direction. It really takes prayer and wisdom to make the best choices. And as we plan our ways, we also ask God to direct our steps. He is faithful to do that as we train our children at Home. Where They Belong
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).
Read the editorial: How Much is Too Much? The Overwhelming Choice of Outside Activities
As I watch my two sons and their wives bring up their children, I marvel at the wide variety of extra activities they take on.
Between my four grandchildren, ages 8 to 14, their daily calendar is chock-full of pursuits, leaving my kids shuttling them from activity to activity. The minute they finish their schoolwork, they are off and running to numerous undertakings occupying their day until dinner. It makes me wonder, are we pushing them to experience too much, and why do we feel that they have to do it all?
I thought back to the days when I brought up my boys. My husband and I set a firm limit. They were allowed to commit to two activities per week.
We learned several things.
Just because they asked to do something didn’t mean they really wanted it. Joining a team or learning an instrument is a commitment. There are games, practice sessions, or recitals. You have to count those extra responsibilities into that choice. I’ve watched many a child sit down bawling in the middle of a soccer game or basketball game, just too tired to go on. The demand simply outweighed their capabilities.
We urged them to diversify their choices, picking a sports activity and making sure the other choice was very different. We encouraged them to think outside the box. We reminded them that these activities are there to enrich their lives, not weigh them down.
While we suggested different things to do, we had to be honest enough that we weren’t pushing them to fulfill our dreams rather than their own. Activities should be joyful, a fun part of the day, not a burden.https://www.amazon.com/Carole-P-Roman/e/B008ZOXI0W?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1657332781&sr=8-1
You Don’t Have to Be Busy All the Time
Let me just state right off the bat that I’m directing this writing to the non-relaxed homeschooler, and you know who you are. You’re the one who frequently feels uptight by your school schedule, your children’s lack of progress, and your own lack of discipline. You try harder but fail “oftener.”
Deep down, you know you should take it easier, enjoy your children more, and care less about their performance, but you just can’t relax!
You’ll probably never be like the mom who doesn’t care what time she gets out of bed, has tea parties at 10am, and sings and smiles when her children spend the day turning the front yard into mud, and that’s okay. Some moms were designed by God to be relaxed, just like you were designed to be “non-relaxed.”
With that said, you can still try to be a relaxed homeschooler and enjoy the benefits of being relaxed. Here’s how:
- Quit wishing God had made you more relaxed, and thank Him for designing you just the way He did.
- Acknowledge that you’re not responsible to turn your children into what they’re going to be, and then quit acting like you are.
- Throw away all the expectations you have for your children. You do your job, and let God make your children who He designed them to be. If you don’t, you’ll just frustrate them and yourself.
- Quit playing by “their” rules, and the “their” I’m talking about is the public school. They’ve proven that institutionalized school methods don’t work, so don’t try to replicate “their” school in your house. It’s not a good model, and you can’t replicate an entire school staff by yourself anyway.
- Make yourself do what you know is important. For example, if you feel like it’s important to play a game with your child (and it is), then do it. Forget math for the day and do it! Just do it!
- And, of course . . .
. . . Be Real,
About the author
Todd Wilson is a husband, dad, grandpa, writer, homeschool conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and down to earth realness have made him a favorite speaker all across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. As founder of The Familyman and The Smiling Homeschooler, his passion and mission are to remind moms and dads of what’s most important through weekly emails, podcasts, seminars, and books that encourage parents. Todd, and his wife Debbie, homeschool four of their eight children (the other four are homeschool graduates) in northern Indiana and travel America in the Familyman Mobile. You can read more at www.familymanweb.com.
Just Say No!
Do you struggle to get into a spiritual routine? Do you hit the ground running every morning, and go nonstop until you crash at bedtime? Are you always taking someone somewhere? Do you find that you don’t eat meals at regular times with your whole family? Do you have something written in on your calendar every single day of every single month? If you answered yes to any of these things, then I think it’s safe to say you have too many activities.
But how do you get involved in activities and meet the needs of everyone in your family? How do you squeeze in all the church activities, the sports practices, the instrument lessons, the extra classes, the library trips, etc.? It’s important to seek God’s will for you and your family. Allow Him to direct your activities. Many times, we make ourselves so busy that we completely take God out of the things we do—not that any of those things are necessarily bad. However, they take away from Him and the things He wants us to be doing. We sometimes feel like we need to involve ourselves and our children in every possible available thing, but that isn’t really how it should be.
Start by asking, “What activities are absolutely necessary?” Write those into your schedule, and then begin to pick and choose other activities based on things that can and will impact you and your children’s futures in a positive way. After that, determine if the rest are absolutely necessary or not. It really is ok to just say “no” occasionally. You and your children do not have to participate in every single thing that is made available to you, especially if it takes from your time with God, with family, and overall makes you exhausted and frustrated. You know you have too many activities if you no longer enjoy the things you and your children are involved in!
About the author
Jodi started her journey with TOS in April 2016 and serves as the Operations Manager. She and her husband, Duane, have been married over 30 years and have spent over 20 years in the ministry. Along with being a pastor’s wife, she homeschooled her 3 (now grown) sons for 18 years and also taught in the private and public-school settings. Jodi enjoys teaching, playing the piano, and making cards. Her heart’s desire is to serve others and use her gifts to glorify the Lord.
Adam and Dianne Riveiro
Pillar of Future
Adam and Dianne Riveiro – Choose Activities with Eternal Value
“I feel like we’re doing a dozen different things, and we’re not doing any of them well.”
We homeschool families like to keep busy, don’t we? Our schedules are often filled with a dizzying array of activities. Typically, our motivations are pure. We don’t want our children to miss out on a single, solitary opportunity. So what do we often do? We fill our calendars with all kinds of activities, thinking that busyness is the sign that we’re a healthy, productive homeschool family.
Truth be told, we become less productive when we overstuff our calendar. In fact, a day planner jam-packed running our kids around here, there, and everywhere isn’t a sign of homeschooling success, it’s more likely a roadmap that leads to a future of unneeded stress and inevitable burnout.
How do you find the sweet spot of having a busy calendar without being over-programmed and overwhelmed? Here’s a few ideas:
- Pray over what activities are right for your family. Just because a certain activity is right for your homeschooling friends doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your children (2 Corinthians 10:12).
- Identify the activities on your calendar that hold eternal value. Give these activities the highest priority (Matthew 6:19-21).
- Remember that our self-worth is found in Christ, not in simply being busy (Romans 13:14). As Christian author Dr. Neil Anderson says, “It’s not what we do that determines who we are, but rather who we are that determines what we do.”
About the author
Pastor Adam and Dianne Riveiro live in Easton, Massachusetts, where Adam leads Liberty Baptist Church. They’re the authors of Ministering to Children With Special Needs, available from their family’s publishing label at www.readyscribepublications.com. They have four children: Bethany, Kaylee, AJ, and Peyton. They’re passionate about helping their fellow special needs families find joy and contentment in Christ.
The Old Schoolhouse® invites homeschooled students ages 12–18 to participate in the first-ever official academic competition for homeschoolers—the NAHC! Sign up to be notified when registration for the National Academic Homeschool Competition opens this fall and receive detailed information regarding this highly anticipated event. Visit NAHCRegistration.com to get started today.
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Combine fun crafts, a variety of subjects, and a range of ages into one activity with Hands-On Learning Activities Through Crafts from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Reduce your workload and bring the whole family together to study science, history, and more through these five enjoyable hands-on activity units.
Read this article
in the summer issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
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for the month of July
FAMTIMEbox: The Fruit of the Spirit & FAMTIMEbox: Adventuring with Paul
Family Time Training
My children love to learn; they love learning hands-on as much as they can. The FAMTIMEbox: The Fruit of the Spirit and FAMTIMEbox: Adventuring with Paul from Family Time Training made that happen during our family Bible time.
To use these boxes, Family Time Training recommends sitting down as a family once a week and working through the activity. Each box comes with a Family Time Training Resource, which is like a leader’s guide or teacher’s guide. This will have each activity that you will be working through laid out for you.
Both Family Time Training Resource books are similar to each other. They start with the big idea or teaching goal followed by the key Scripture for the activity. Next, they list the needed materials for the activity. The materials are in the box. They even have words in bold that the teacher/leader can use to read for the activity. We end with a memory verse for the week and a prayer.
Once again in this box, we learn these lessons with fun hands-on activities. My children take in so much more and retain so much more by getting their hands in and having fun with their lessons. The last lesson stood out to them where we learned about bad choices and why we should always make good choices to stay close to God.
My children call the FAMTIMEbox sets their Vacation Bible School in a box for at home. These sets are a fun way to bring the family together and dig deeper into your faith with fun activities. If your children like to get hands-on with their learning, I would highly recommend these fun boxes for a family Bible study.
Go to the contest page of our site where you can ENTER TO WIN one of these activity boxes. We will have two winners for this giveaway!
Let’s Go Geography
Your K–5th Grader will love learning geography with engaging videos and creative projects! Get the stand-alone Unit on the USA–Alaska from Let’s Go Geography and discover what “hands-on” geography is all about. Each curriculum year introduces kids to almost thirty different countries around the globe, or pick and choose from almost ninety individual countries sold separately. Make geography the best part of your week with Let’s Go Geography! Click here for the free lesson: www.letsgogeography.com/register/Guest
This free product and more are found in our 2022 Freebie Directory: TOS Freebie Directory – The Old Schoolhouse®
Like a Refiner’s Fire
Are there moments when you could you use just a little encouragement? Don’t you love it when you realize that there are others who experience the same issues you do?
Glean wisdom and refreshment from another Christian homeschooling mom as you read the WeE-book™ . . . Like a Refiner’s Fire: A Collection of Inspiring, Encouraging, (and Sometimes Convicting) Reflections from Deborah Wuehler.
Find more freebies at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Store: Freebies Archives – The Old Schoolhouse®
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