Setting Priorities in a Fast-Paced World

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Although we are still in the heat of summer, a new school year will be here before you know it. That means now is a great time to take a minute and catch your breath before what assuredly will be a busy fall full of sports, plays, recitals, clubs, and other school and extracurricular activities. Often times in today’s world we stretch ourselves so thin with activities and commitments that we spend most of our time rushing from one place to the next. I know we have all heard the old adage about taking the time to “stop and smell the roses,” right? Well, most of our days it seems like we have to get up early, work late, go to a meeting, grab some dinner on the run…just so we can get home, take the kids to practice and possibly spend some time with our families before bedtime. By the time you actually get home, the roses I mentioned that are so important to stop and smell are probably wilted because you never have the time to water them!

The same hectic reality also applies to many of our kids’ schedules these days. With more and more demands in our daily lives and less time to spend on the things that we truly enjoy, it is critical to remember we don’t have to cram everything into one day. In order to appreciate the things in life that truly make us happy, it’s important to space them out so they don’t end up becoming a burden and creating unnecessary stress. Now don’t get me wrong, I think it is wonderful for young people to be involved in an array of activities. This can help them become increasingly well-rounded and college applications certainly look better littered with a medley of involvement. The trick is being able to give kids the best possible experiences without making your family insane. So what’s the key to managing all of these activities without burning yourself and the kids out? Balance. Easier said than done, I know, but attainable if approached correctly.

Balancing your activities and budgeting your time is one of the most difficult things for parents to do. Working a full-time job and taking your kids to practices and games can leave little time for anything else. It may be helpful to try asking kids about each of their activities, finding out why they enjoy participating in them, and which ones are their favorites. This does not mean you have to make them decide between one activity or another, but it will give you a better idea of where their passion lies. It’s important to know why your child is participating in these activities. Is it because they want to, or is it because they are feeling pressure from you or others?

Parents that support their kids participating in a variety of sports and activities should be applauded. The time and financial investment cannot be underestimated or overvalued. Just keep in mind that when extracurricular involvement gets to the point where it’s becoming more of a hassle than a highlight, it may be time to step back and reevaluate the situation.

Bill Stone is the County Extension Director for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.