Limiting Kids’ Activities

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Sharon writes:

I am listening to you talk with Cindy Rushton as I type. I got onto your site and saw that you are disabled. You said you couldn’t hold a job even if you wanted to. You sound very much like me.

We have 4 children…3 still at home and we homeschool. I have celiac disease, lupus, scleroderma, rhuemetoid arthritis and raynauds. I am on disability too. You made no apologies for not being able to work…. that one phrase has done more for me than you know. I hope to find tips from your site that will help us as we are living on one income.

I understand your sharing that you just don’t have the energy for some household activities. Do you also limit your outside activities? My kids want to do some of the homeschool classes but going out for one class can wipe me out for 2 days. My husband is in the National Guard and got back a few months ago from a year in Iraq and is now on the border doing the border patrol for illegal immigrants. Being mommy/daddy while he is gone takes more energy it seems. I look forward to reading some of your books.

Your website and your life story is a blessing,



Tawra: Yes, we do put a huge limit on activities. The reality is until about 20 years ago, kids didn’t do a lot of extra activities. We think they are a must now because they are available and because other people do them, but they really aren’t.

My kids are still younger (8,7 and 3) but we limit them to one activity at a time. Right now, finances are tight so there are no activities. The kids will be disappointed if they’re used to a lot of activities, but it teaches them to have boundaries regarding how much they take on and it helps them realize that you can’t do it all.

It’s funny because I was going to put my 3 year old in 3 mornings a week preschool and I ended up not doing it because when I went to sign up she said “we will have a concert on this date and this date. We are going to the donut shop here, Botanica (botanical garden) here, the zoo here, and continued to list about 10 other outings! I’m sorry but they are 3 years old! That is ridiculous! Of course parents are most welcome to volunteer for all these things. Nope! I don’t think so. I can’t do it all and it sounds like you can’t either. If you could maybe get another family to help out with taking them then maybe let them do one or two things but if not I would just say no. Don’t feel bad about it. In the long run, my kids tend to remember the seemingly ordinary times spent together more than most of the “activities.”


Even though this was written a few years back and Tawra now has teens in her home, she still holds true to what she said above. The kids do have a few activities but they are limited when it comes to how many. Guess what? They really don’t care. The same was true too when my kids (Tawra and her brother) were teens. They did social things but not things that cost a fortune. Tawra was very involved in one music group at school but she worked part time and paid for all she needed for that.


photo by: susieq3c


  1. says

    I am a former Kindergarten teacher and my experience just over the last ten years has shown that parents are creating very nervous, anxious children who are “overscheduled” to the point that some of them have developed irritable bowel syndrome and have difficulties concentrating and sleeping at night. Other than impressing other parents what is the purpose? If a child is participating in too many things they never develop a skill in anything! What is so difficult about understanding that? My friend teaches piano and some of her students are so overscheduled they don’t have any time to practice! Yet the parents continue to assume that their child will learn to play (??).

    One of the positive outcomes of our economic problems in this country is that parents are running out of disposable money to pay for these activities.

    Also, on a more cynical side a lot of these so-called activities (tae-kwon-do, various sports, dance etc) are money-making careers for people….I don’t begrudge them as there is nothing wrong with that. BUT parents beware! Don’t sacrifice your child’s mental health to line the pockets of someone.

    Take one step at a time to find out what your child really enjoys and take time to develop that skill. A 3 year old does not have that mental/physical development yet. You need to wait until they are about 6-7 years old for most everything.

    Kids need to be kids first and feel comfortable and secure. Running around town like a chicken with it’s head cut off is stupid and a waste of energy for the entire family.

  2. Lorie says

    My 8 (almost 9) year old daughter had taken ballet for 5 years now. She loved to dance and twirl around the house, so it seemed like a good idea. She goes once a week for 45 minutes. Several times in the past she has expressed an interest in soccer, gymnastics, softball, etc. Every time, I explain to her that should she choose one of those other things, she will be quitting ballet, FOR GOOD. She isn’t bouncing back and forth from one thing to another. And she ISN’T going to be taking several things at once. Soccer and Gymnastics we simply cannot afford. Funny thing is, every time I persent her with this choice, she always stays with her ballet. You cannot devote yourself to anything if you are speading yourself too thin.

    This year, we have increased our dance routine to two nights a week, for 45 minutes. She has ballet, tap and jazz. Her teacher considers her one of her best students. She loves it, and can give it her all because she has no other conflicts. Alot of the girls in her dance class miss all the time because of other activities. Then come recital time, they stand on stage and panic because they don’t know the routine well enough. Due to their parents lack of foresight. *sigh* SAD.

  3. cindy says

    Amen! I sometimes feel that I’m the only one who feels this way. We homeschool, attend church, and take part in 4H. That’s it! People don’t seem to understand that kids also need to have chores so they learn to work. I always think back to the pioneers and how well their children turned out without all the activities and entertainment parents now think their children “need”.

  4. Chantel says

    Here I see things a little differently, I don’t think you should spend money on it if you can’t afford to live, but I can see how much the activities our kids who are in foster care with us helped them. Our oldest has learned to manage her time better because she knows she if she doesn’t she won’t be able to fit in everything. She had to cut back a little this year, but are still busier than the average teenager. The headmaster at her school called her into his office because she is doing so well in her school work, she travels to school by bus, so that takes a lot of time out of her day, she does sports and creative activities. I allow them to do what they want as long as their school work, etc doesn’t get worse. Our youngest struggles with ADHD and sensory integration problems, but with the dancing, trampoline and drama classes she has improved hugely. The sports help her concentrate on her school work and if it wasn’t for that we would have had to up her intake of Ritalin. The days she does sports she can focus on her school work without extra medication, but the days she doesn’t she really struggles with her concentration. Unfortunately letting her run, ect is not something she is interested in. By the way, they do really well in all their activities and like I said their school work doesn’t suffer because of it.


  1. […] Cut kids’ activities. Most kids are in way too many activities and they’re often expensive. I know families who pay $175 a month for gymnastics lessons but can’t pay the mortgage. There is a problem with this kind of thinking! Kids won’t die if you don’t give them all the lessons and activities you can’t afford. […]

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