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Helping families make the most of personality differences.

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TAGS: Decision Making, Guiding, Listening, Choices, Communication, Differences, Mothering Styles, Teenagers

Over Scheduled – Knowing When Enough is Enough

Yvonne Nelson-Reid, B.Ed., M.A.
YVONNE NELSON-REID, B.Ed., M.A., is a mother of 5, writer, teacher, depth psychologist, and career coach. As a certified MBTI and MMTIC professional, she uses typology as a tool for helping others understand differences and communicate more effectively.
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You know the moment. School is back in session and within that first day we are already being notified about new clubs for the kids to join, registration for Fall sports, and involvement in school extra-curricular activities, such as marching band, football, cheerleading, etc.

Honestly, it can get overwhelming. To go from a relaxed summer schedule to a full-on minute-by-minute detailed schedule is a bit of a shock to the system, not only to parents but to kids as well.

Where do we draw the line? Some kids love to be active and involved in everything, whereas others need time to themselves to energize and reflect. Each child's needs are different; knowing that and making choices around that can be challenging, especially when parental expectations and unrecognized dreams come into play.

I grew up on a farm. Back in my day, we were expected to entertain ourselves, to play outside, and extra driving trips to town were frowned upon. The activity rule in our home was one extra activity per season; for me that was figure skating in the winter and playing ball in the summer.



I felt isolated on the farm and really missed being with friends. My brother, on the other hand, was quite content spending time on his own, reading, hanging out in the woods, and enjoying his own company. So, when it came time to begin choosing activities for my own kids to participate in, I took up my own mom's rule of one activity per season. This allowed each child to have some down time and to not feel overwhelmed with such a busy schedule.

With five kids, this also made it easier for me to get each kid to wherever they needed to be. A friend of mine felt guilty if she didn't have her kids involved in everything, even at the expense of her own sanity and logistical nightmare. Who is right? Who is wrong?

I don't think there is a right or wrong. I soon discovered that my oldest was quite content being involved in just one activity at a time and enjoyed her time at home, either quietly playing on her own or working on some type of creative project. Realizing this wasn't going to work for my second child, we soon discovered having more structured and active time was important; play dates and team events allowed for much needed interaction and engagement.

It seems to me that really listening to your individual child's requests and needs is so very important. When to nudge gently, or push more intensely, or to pull back is an art in and of itself and one I think parents develop over a lifetime, yet they still can't quite decide if they did enough or too much. Perhaps we were quiet children who weren't engaged in social activities so we want to make sure our kids are because we might feel like we missed out on something.

Or we were so involved in activities in our own childhood that we want our kids to have down time and enjoy just being a kid. To top it off, many feel pressures from other parents signaling that they aren't doing enough.

Once registered for a sport or event, our family rule is that you must stick it out for the season, then if you really hate it, you can drop it and move on to something else. Try a few activities to see what moves you and inspires passion, then choose from there.

Because I am one mom with 5 kids, and realizing that I was not supermom, nor able to teleport kids from one activity to another, I knew some restrictions needed to be in place. I can't be in two places at once! For the most part, it seems to be working in our home, but time will tell when my kids become parents themselves.

We do the best we can and the rest will just have to work itself out. Enjoy down time when you have it. Enjoy cheering on your kids as they explore the world in new and exciting ways! Most important of all, pay attention to what your children say or the actions they convey regarding extra curricular activities, knowing it will be different for each child.


You can learn more about the individual personality types of your children by having them take the MMTIC® assessment. Get a better understanding of your own preferences by taking the MBTI® assessment.




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