Kids today are operating under very tight time constraints. While the number of potential activities continues to rise, what’s also driving this boom in kid’s after-school activities is college applications. We’re told that colleges are looking for well-rounded applicants. That means that between homework, after-school activities, friends and family time, kids today are facing a real time crunch.
As a parent, you’ve been there. You know the pain, misery, and exhaustion that comes with being overwhelmed. You’ve been in situations where you had too much going on and things got missed. You know the regret that comes with putting your work in front of your family. You’ve been in the land of task overload. This means that, as a parent, it’s your job to help your kids learn to make the difficult decisions that come with prioritizing time.
Just like work, kid’s activities will expand to the amount of time you give them. Also like work, there will always be more things to do. There’s always a sport in season, always another theater production to try out for, always another club that would look great on a college application.
The struggle is not choosing between the good and the bad. It’s the struggle of choosing what’s the most good. It’s the struggle of being exposed to new horizons while maintaining a healthy balance in life. This is where parents really need to parent. If kids don’t learn to prioritize their time in high school, college will be a mess and their life could end up a disaster.
When you sit down with your teen to discuss time priorities, it’s important that they know that you’ve been in this situation before. It’s also important that you emphasize that all of the things that they are doing are good, and it’s only when the good is too much that it becomes bad.
Work with your teen to develop a formula for how they spend their time. Priority 1 is school work, priority 2 is family and priority 3 is all other activities. Using this framework, or another that you both come up with, rework their schedule. Dive into how much time they need for each activity and how much they’re actually spending. Then, edit their schedule.
Your kids need your help when it comes to prioritizing their time. This critical life skill is really only learned when you’re in the moment, so take the time to help guide them to success.