Are you overscheduling your kids?

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Swimming kids

because-I-said-so-blueSummer’s almost here, and I started to panic when I realized I’d signed my oldest son up for a swim team and a basketball camp that took place at the same time. I’ve been making myself crazy trying to figure out a way for him to do both — maybe he could practice dribbling underwater, or shoot layups using the butterfly stroke — when I realized just how ridiculous I was being.

It’s summer.

They are called lazy days for a reason.

You can’t rush eating a popsicle.

I’m always happy to put my feet up and relax as a parent. Why won’t I let my kids do the same?

I don’t know what it is about parenting that makes it so tempting to hyperschedule your offspring. Maybe it’s a subconscious attempt at redoing your own childhood, armed with all the adult wisdom and “woulda, coulda, shoulda”-s that come with growing up.

Case in point: I always wish I had gone to law school, based solely on my love of all things “Law & Order.” None of my children have expressed any interest whatsoever in the law — I guess it’s too early to tell with the baby — but you can bet there will be LSAT prep material all over the house as soon as I teach all the dang kids at my house to read.

Maybe my overscheduling is also a warped kind of keeping up with the Joneses. All the other kids in the neighborhood are driving across the state for soccer tournaments, and playing piano concertos, and lettering in lacrosse, and organizing community fundraisers for Tsunami survivors. As a result of this pressure, I’ve had a very hard time bragging about my boys’ mad Mario Kart driving skills and what good little gamers they’ve become.

So I’m left scrambling, signing my kids up for anything and everything that comes home on a flyer in their backpacks. After all, if my 6-year-old doesn’t start going to football camps soon, what are the chances that he’ll make the team at American Fork or Lone Peak High School as a teenager? Who cares if he even wants to play football, don’t I want to keep all of his options open?

I’m one of those turbo parents who gets a little nutty when it comes to my kids, so I’m trying to back off of my perfectionist tendencies. I’m all for hard work, and dedication, and excelling at something (like when I watched every episode of “Law & Order” instead of taking the LSAT). But I also think that little minds and bodies need time to rest, time to make bouquets out of weeds and build dirt forts on their next-door neighbor’s unsecured property.

So this summer, I’m enrolling my kids in a free camp in my own backyard that will feature pickup soccer, marshmallow roasting and sprinkler tag. No pressure, no stress, no worries. Just warm, happy, Olaf-inspired summer fun.

I’m guessing it will be well-loved and attended — the highlight of the summer for me and my little ones. At least it will be until I remember that I’m stuck home alone with four young, needy children. All day. Every day.

At that point I’ll probably go digging through the long-abandoned backpacks, looking desperately for any flyers on a swim basketball team I can find.

Who says there’s such a thing as overscheduling?

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Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

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