Limit the number of activities youth participate in. Some parents let kids participate in no more than one extra-curricular activity at a time. For other families, this may be a tough guideline to follow. It’s important to figure out just how many commitments you and your family can comfortably maintain and stay within that limit. While activities such as sports, clubs or music lessons provide valuable learning experiences and personal enrichment, remember that school is a young person’s No. 1 job.
With older kids and teens, before giving permission for a new activity, create a contract outlining expectations for yourself and your child. For example, you may agree to transport your child to practices and attend one game per week, while your child agrees to maintain his or her grades and continue to complete assigned household chores for the duration of the activity. Outline consequences for failing to stick to the contract and be ready to implement them if necessary.
Ask for a schedule of practices, games, meetings, rehearsals, etc., before signing up for a new activity. Be sure that sessions don’t conflict with your or your kids’ existing commitments. Keep a master family calendar with all of your time commitments; color-code entries for each family member.
Plan for your other responsibilities ahead of time. On a night when you have no activities, cook a double batch of dinner and freeze half for a quick meal on a night when you won’t have time to cook. Help kids and teens set aside time in advance for doing homework and chores.
Get help with transportation, especially if you have multiple children whose activity schedules conflict with one another. If you’re not a single parent or caregiver, ask your partner to share in the transportation responsibilities. Carpool with other families. Check with your children’s school and Boys & Girls Club about transportation to activities.