Finding a healthy balance for busy kids - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Finding a healthy balance for busy kids

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From soccer to piano to baseball and gymnastics, the overscheduled family is alive and well, running kids from one activity to another, day after day.

In the Parenting Project, Barbara Vaughan shares ideas on striking a healthy balance.

Overscheduling begins before pre-school and continues through college. You worry your kids will be left behind, so you enroll them in everything.

Debbie Cranmer has five kids. The youngest two keep the whole family running.

Debbie says "My husband would come home, and he would start dinner and start homework. I would come home, and we'd have to shoot right out the door to cheerleading. So, it was kind of chaotic. Get home, do homework, get their baths, and then it's bedtime already. So, we felt kind of robbed."

Everyone wants the best for their children, but when is it time to slow down?

Denise Continenza is a family life counselor. "Today, so many families want their kids to have so much. They want, they want more then they had as kids. They want to give them every opportunity to do all the things maybe that they didn't get to do, or because there are so many opportunities out there so people are overscheduling."

Continenza says you should decide what works for your family by asking yourself a few simple questions about each activity: How is this going to impact our family? What's the commitment that's expected of the kids and the parents? Is this a five night a week activity? Is it three hour practices?

Assuming the activity makes the grade, Continenza suggests moderation, perhaps just one activity per child, per season. She says it's important for children to have down time. They need time to process what they've learned during the day either in school or just in their activity.

A couple of other things to consider: Overstressed kids experience headaches, stomach aches, sleeplessness, and also have crying spats, temper tantrums, depression and anxiety as a result of all that stress.

But there are ways to change overscheduling. In addition to choosing activities carefully, slow down by having dinner together. Studies show in families who have dinner together, children perform better in school and handle daily pressures better than their peers. If you can't have dinner together every night, shoot for a couple of times each week.

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