We live in fast-paced times. That reality can be exhilarating, but it can also be overwhelming, distracting, and generally unhealthy. Especially for our children and teens. There are certainly seasons of busyness that are unavoidable, and there are lessons to be learned from them. However, when we make over-scheduling our kids a regular occurrence, we unnecessarily create problems for them that can hurt our entire family.
Overscheduling ourselves and our children can result in feelings of tension and anxiety. We all need time to decompress, relax, and enjoy recreational activities. Children, especially, have a need for unstructured activities, including imaginative play. If they have too much activity, too soon, their cognitive and social development may be impaired, and they may lack the experience that promotes a healthy balance between work, play, and down time.
Some adults may be able handle a higher level of activity than others, but those adults, especially, need to be mindful of the fact that they may have children with a “lower threshold” of busyness and chaos: In other words, they may become overwhelmed more easily.
An overabundance of activity can distract us from so many really important things. In fact, it’s fair to consider whether maybe we’re intentionally keeping overly busy in order to distract ourselves. (If so, that coping mechanism is not a healthy one!) Even if over-scheduling your life isn’t something you intentionally did to avoid dealing with problems, the busyness is probably distracting you from some realities that are more important than all the “stuff” that keeps you running around frantically and never feeling caught up or at rest.
Getting to know God, developing and nurturing relationships with other people, dealing with difficult emotions, learning to understand your own heart and its deceptions, and fully entering into the moments and experiences that — if you weren’t out of breath and multitasking already — would take your breath away, in a good way.
It doesn’t happen right away, and it’s so gradual, you may not notice it, at first. But our minds and bodies were not created to be in constant motion. We can’t live on an adrenaline high without consequences. From sleep disorders to emotional breakdowns and even gastrointestinal issues, our bodies will find ways to tell us that we’re overdoing it. Headaches, frequent illnesses, and exhaustion are other ways being overly busy can take its toll.
Hopefully, you recognize and want to avoid these potential problems that can stem from keeping our families too busy. Before we can get to the “how to” part (see Part 3), we need to examine and evaluate the root causes (see Part 2), so we don’t trim down our schedules, only to have them fill back up again.