BRYANT, Arkansas — Whether it’s a volleyball tournament, a football game, or swim meet, most kids and their families nowadays are always on the go.
But how busy is too busy?
The truth is even kids need a breather sometimes, to avoid being stressed and overworked.
If Kristin Knox could pick one word to describe her family's lifestyle it would be chaotic. With 16-year-old twins, an 11-year-old daughter and her own business, there's little time for down time.
“When we get up its just all day even until 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock or 11 o’clock even on a school night depending on what it is,” said Kristin Knox.
At their busiest, their days would start as early as 4:30 a.m. and not ending until long after the sun went down.
“Every day is football. Every single day. Monday through Friday, it is football. When its off-season it’s still football,” said Knox. “They did track, but they also did baseball at one point. They did basketball at one point. Baby girl did cheerleading, gymnastics, volleyball. If it was a sport it was done.”
The Knox family isn't alone in their busy lifestyle.
“Just about every night kids are filled up with activities these days and it’s such a difference because I’m not seeing much of, if any, downtime,” said Katie Walker, Clinical Director at Chenal Family Therapy.
Katie Walker is the Clinical Director at Chenal Family Therapy in North Little Rock. She said keeping kids isn't a bad thing, but there are signs to look out for to make sure your child isn't overdoing it, beginning with sleep.
“My biggest thing is sleep,” said Walker. “How is this, if at all, affecting sleep? Are they involved so much that they are getting home late at night and having difficulty sleeping?”
She also said to keep an eye out for mood changes.
“Is the student exploding more than they normally would? Is their anger more elevated? Kids who are highly involved in activities and sports, scientific studies have proven that there is increase in anxiety and depression,” said Walker.
Walker said to pay attention to your children’s grades. If students are suddenly under-performing in school, it may be an issue they are overworked and stressed.
“Especially during the school year were going to get a lot of information from our teachers and that will tell us what we have to decide about their after-school activities,” said Walker.
Walker suggested if you notice these changes, refrain from immediately pulling your kids out of their activities. Instead, reassess as a family.
“Maybe it’s cutting it down to one sport. Maybe instead of a travel team you just do it for fun and entertainment. Maybe you just assess it and come to a decision that's fair to you and the child and that's fair for everyone,” said Walker.
That is exactly what the Knox family did at the request at their daughter and their sons.
“She was the first one to say this is too much I’m retiring. We said retiring? What are you retiring from? She said I’m retiring from cheerleading. I’m retiring from dance. The only thing I want to focus on now is gymnastics and volleyball,” said Knox.
Knox said once the twins got to high school, they decided they just wanted to focus on football
“They just said mom we are just kind of tired. So can we not do that this year. Maybe I’ll pick it up it my senior year but for now I want to play ball and I want to rest,” said Knox.
Knox said since scaling back, their focus has shifted from sports to family. She said they are still busy, but life is a little less chaotic.
“We are honing in on what’s really important. What’s the best and what do I need to focus on now,” said Knox.
Walker said it's important to keep track of your children's down time. She said it is perfectly OK for a child to be bored. It's a great time for them to explore and just be a kid.