Help, my kiddo has too many activities and we’re going cRaZyYyy!!!!

So here’s a question. How is my kid supposed to go to school, go to activities, get her homework done, AND go to bed at a decent hour? She’s only 12, and it already feels like her life is a rat race.  

Like yesterday she got out of school, had her tutor, went to an hour of ice skating, and then had a crapload of homework to do. At 9:30 when I went into her room to take her devices 1/2 before bedtime, she panicked.

ZOEY: But I’m not done with homework!!!!!!

So I calmed her down and said she could keep working, but at 10:00, my hubby and I were like it’s time for bed. I mean sure we could totally let her stay up and finish her homework, but then she’ll just be exhausssted the next day. So we have two choices, let her not finish her homework and do worse in school or let her finish her homework and do worse in school. Hmmmm.

They say our kids need to have activities and passions because colleges look for that.

They say our kids need to get good grades because colleges look for that too.

They say our kids need to get a good night’s sleep.

They say our kids need downtime to decompress.

They say our kids should eat dinner with their families.

They say A LOT of things.

What they don’t say is how it’s impossible to do it all.

I feel like I’m setting my kid up to have a life like mine. I have so many things to do, I’m destined to fail. I’m spread too thin. But at 49, at least I’m an adult and able to decide what I can fail at each day. My kid is 12, and she doesn’t have that “luxury.” I can’t believe I’m calling that a luxury.

She has people telling her she has to finish her homework or she’ll get a bad grade on it. She has people telling her it’s time for skating class. She has people telling her it’s time for dinner. She has people telling her theater is longer tonight because it’s dress rehearsal. She has people telling her she can’t have screen time until she does her homework and then telling her it’s too late for screen time.

And if you think she has too many activities, think again. She has two. Ice skating and theater. Two passions because she loves them both and she’s not ready to give either of them up. Yet. I say “yet” because something’s gotta give. It’s like kids can’t do anything half-ass these days. When I was a kid, you could go to ballet for an hour a week. Nowadays, you’re basically training to be a prima ballerina even if you’re not. You can’t do anything half-ass and you have to everything full-ass, and one full-ass plus another full-ass equals two full-asses, and two full-asses is just too much. 

I wish I had some tidy way to wrap this up and tell you I know what I’m gonna do, but I don’t. All I know is that I just spent thirty minutes writing this, which was time I could have spent doing the laundry, or grocery shopping,  or preparing my invoices, or scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or exercising, or doing a million other things that are on my to-do list.

Hmmm, maybe I’m just preparing my daughter for adulthood, but that worries me too. In all that preparation to become an adult, maybe she’s losing her time to be a child.

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There are 12 comments for this article
  1. Lori Strong at 10:43 am

    I so feel this. Also have a 12 year old and she’s on a dance team. It takes so much time. But, after a year where she had virtual everything and wasn’t able to compete or perform, we are trying to make it work. Yes, there will be a point where something gives. I imagine it will be soon, but not quite yet.

  2. Sarah at 11:10 am

    My mom thought I had too much homework when I was in school, and I know it has only gotten way worse. I do not have kids but I am already stressed about the homework load my kids will have plus activities!

  3. Avra at 11:30 am

    I went through the same thing with my daughter. She took ONE dance class a week from the time she was 3 and she loved it. But she also loved swimming. In middle school, when she wanted to do other school extra curriculars, like theater, we had to make the decision to drop dance. She knew she would want to be on the high school swim team when the time came and that one activity is a huge every day time commitment. Sadly, dance lost out, but she was never going to be the prima ballerina either so she made her choice to be part of a team in high school, which was the best choice for her.

  4. Andrea T at 12:18 pm

    It’s like you glimpsed into my life!!
    It’s such a delicate balance and I don’t feel like I do a good job (for my kids OR myself) most days!

  5. Jen at 5:22 pm

    Yes to all of this! We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. I have a 12yo that isn’t in any activities at all except art club, which happens once a week after school. And frankly that’s plenty IMO. Maybe extracurriculars will be important in high school, but I doubt they look at middle school activities.

  6. Lulu at 7:50 pm

    There just isn’t enough time…ever. My oldest is 9 and right now she does music lessons once a week. The 5 year old had soccer twice a week. No homework (really) for either and it still feels like no time. I teach 6th grade and my students only get homework if they don’t finish their class work, and it’s always something they have multiple days to turn in. I don’t like grading “homework” because there are too many disparities. Hopefully things even out for her.

  7. Laura at 8:31 pm

    I may not be the best person to get involved here. When I was in high school I participated in everything and was an over achiever. I had a few good friends and many great acquaintances — rarely at a loss for good people to hang out with. I got into a good college — considered an Ivy League of the Midwest.

    My kids, on the other hand, took a different path. Neither of them participated in much in high school. One did nothing except watch TV and hang with friends; the other played video games and participated in events that he was forced to only. Neither of them are particularly comfortable in large groups and prefer to socialize with no more than 2-3 friends at a time. Both got good grades and got into great colleges. WITHOUT ACTIVITIES.

    Bottom line, if your kids love something, let them do it within reason.

    PS — My daughter did theatre in middle school and there was plenty of down time b/t scenes for her to work on homework. Both kids preferred to do homework during lunch or study hall so they would have less to do at home. I don’t know if that’s an option for her or not.

  8. Michelle at 6:22 am

    Covid made everything slow down and it seems like life ramped up after. I don’t think it is necessary to consider this how life is. Some people thrive under a busy schedule but for others they will fall, I think if she’s still overwhelmed she needs to give up something and understand that it is ok to do that.

  9. Jen Newton at 10:24 am

    My couple a’ cents as a mom of two smart kids with learning challenges…

    I have a brilliant 18 year old who just returned to school after 6 years out. Homebound education failed this kid. Finally, we placed our student in a private school and success has been the result. No school for YEARS, and now success. And I know the path for this kid to get to the places they want to be. It is very different, but nonetheless it exists.

    IMO, the 1st priorities are the things that make a kiddo feel strong and confident. I don’t care if it is Minecraft, or skating, or drawing their own comic. When a person feels good about themselves and that is appreciated and celebrated by those they love, they can find ways to overcome and do the things they want to do. The path may be a bit longer, but the destination is the same. You can find a way when you believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, you won’t even start on the path.

    It is powerful when parents prioritize those things. Not that you don’t need balance, but when you give a child the message that the thing they are good at and care about deserves time and energy (maybe not all the time and energy), and you celebrate them in that activity, their effort, goals and accomplishments, you send a message that they can achieve their own goals–not the goals of an educational system.

    Second priorities are those that get a kid moving and/or outside. Then sleep.

    If that tutor is for a learning challenge or you maybe wonder in the back of your mind if a learning difference is in play, ask the school in writing for an educational assessment and look at a getting 504 or IEP. “Smart” kids can need these as well to access their education in a healthy way. Or, consider a neuropsychologist exam. My dd is very smart but has considerable processing delays. The school said she was fine, but outside testing showed the significant challenges she faces day to day.

    My kiddos also takes medication to help with ADHD. While there is a lot of stigma around taking medication, I did my own research and found that I would rather work with a doctor than have that kid find ways to self medicate, which many many sufferers do. Our choice, but it makes a big difference.

    Finally, the age of your kid makes a big difference in how much school matters. For my daughter, we designated middle school as a time for her to learn how she learns, how to balance everything, how to self advocate. COVID learning was a disaster–mostly Fs. However, she is bouncing back well in high school–because she wants to and she believes she can.

    We don’t have it all figured out by any stretch. The late nights are distressing, the lack of doing chores, stress over getting it all done (now that we are in high school). This parenting thing is so offing hard. And just when we feel like we’ve got this, we are a beginner again dealing with something new.

    • Tara at 6:33 pm

      Hi Jen, I just have to thank you so much for your comment!

      My daughter is 22 years old and almost has finished a special program in our area for 18 year olds & older, to get their hs diploma instead of just offering a GED.

      She missed so much school (off & on) over what were her regular school years. Physical illnesses, C-PTSD, mental health issues?? We were dealing with it all.

      Unfortunately, that altered her school timeline. It took a long time for me to understand that her education was not going to be very “traditional”—like mine was.

      And now we are finding out that it looks like she will also fit into that wonderful & awful “twice exceptional” area. She’s thrilled to be getting more answers for herself. I’m thrilled, too. She finally has doctors that I feel are working together with her to help her. She has been getting healthier as we have gone along this journey, so I’m truly more than just thrilled!! (I just also want her to finish her last freakin’ 12 hs credits!! Lol! It is hard to find the line to walk with her still living with me (which I love!❤️) and needing to follow some basic “rules”, while also letting her be the young adult that she’s developing into—so how much do I “force” the school issue? You know? *SIGH*).

      I’m sorry for writing so much, I just really identified with your comment. You helped me feel less alone on this education journey. I needed that today. So, again, thank you for posting your comment!😊

  10. George Pope at 1:16 am

    I have no doubt you & she will resolve this well, because you both are abnout the solutions & going forward in a healthy way! I feel for you; I gaven’t organised my own life, how can I expect to teach my son to do it?

  11. Jill Chlebus at 8:25 pm

    YES to all of this! My daughter is in cross country, basketball (plus a travel team) and volleyball and probably track in the spring. Luckily most of the seasons don’t overlap but still, it’s A LOT! You said everything I am feeling! Thank you for making me feel “normal”