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Dear Mom

May 30, 2024

Dear Mom, This is such a busy time of year, with all the after school activities to choose from, how do you help your child develop their talents without overcommitting them?

Headshot of Jennifer Ryan 2017 Colorado Mother of the YearMy 13 year old daughter is the only child in the household and participates in 3 activities – 2 for school and 1 outside school. She and I sat down at the beginning of the school year and had a strategic conversation about time commitments, practice schedules, competitions/games/concerts and family time to ensure we could do it all without undue stress. I am a solo parent and my elderly Father also lives with us, so we are limited on time. We post a monthly calendar in a specific place at home and allow no more than 3 days per week, including weekends, for extracurricular activities. If one activity that she wants to do takes up all 3 days/week, that is the only activity she can do. If her grades slip during any semester, we revisit and remove an activity if needed.

We chose the 3 activities based on what we agreed was a well rounded approach for her- the first activity is orchestra thru school, the second is volleyball thru school and the last is a horseback riding drill team, outside of school. She has orchestra at school as a class, practices her instrument 3 nights per week for 1 hour at home and has 3 concerts per school year. She has volleyball practice immediately after school during the week and 6 games over the course of the entire season – she is on the B team. She has horseback riding drill team initially every Friday for 4 weeks and then every other Saturday in the morning. So, we are gone from home for no more than a couple of hours at one time, and a total of 3 days or less per week.

This routine has worked for us, she is maintaining A’s and B’s in school and enjoys the activities. I am not losing my mind running around all the time. I also give my daughter the freedom to tell me if she does not enjoy an activity. We have an agreement about that, she will finish the activity for the original commitment and then not recommit for the next season.

If there were more than 1 child in my home, I would have to limit the activities to 1 or 2 per child, while keeping the commitment as a WHOLE to the 3 days per week rule.

Hope this helps! Happy parenting!
Jennifer Ryan
2017 Colorado Mother of the Year

EmilyMy advice is simple!! Keep it simple!! Encourage children to try one activity at a time!

My daughter, Emily, has Bill (13 yrs) and Alice (6 yrs). She helps them choose, and limit, activities to one at a time. She finds that this keeps them from “overload stress” and helps them find their “nitche”!

Example: Alice took lessons in ballet last semester. The semester before she took lessons in taekwondo! She decided to continue the ballet lessons and was happy with her one activity. Her son, Bill, is playing football for the first time at 13. As parents, they decided that early contact sports would have to wait. This has been a good choice for their family!

I hope this will be helpful to you!
Mary Hoffmann
2017 North Dakota Mother of the Year

How do you find balance with your kids after school activities?  Let us know in the comments section!