Is your pre-schooler over scheduled?

I first started to feel the "enrichment" pressure when my first child was three years old. As a new mom, I felt like a foreigner as I listened in on the new and strange conversations of the "experienced moms" as I waited for the end of my daughter's dance classes.

That's when I realized just how many enrichment and extra-curricular activities in which other children were enrolled: tap dancing, gymnastics, community theater, kindermusic – the list was endless. My own parents couldn't afford to enroll me in ballet class and so I thought I was Mother of the Year for enrolling my daughter in ballet - -little did I know that many kids were enrolled in multiple classes.

But how, I wondered, did these mothers manage to juggle it all? How did they make dinner or help their other kids with homework and get everyone off to bed at a decent hour? It was a mystery to me.

On the one hand, I knew I didn't want spend my days harried, shuttling kids from one activity to another, or resorting to fast-food dinners because there was no time at the end of the evening. But with all the mommy chatter about the benefits of so much extra-curricular activity, I couldn't help wondering if I was short-changing my darling daughter in the process.

Luckily, my second child soon became a certifiable playmate to our first and I quickly decided that their playtime and bonding was far more valuable than any pre-school enrichment program. To this day, I reserve extra-curricular activities for my school age children (age 6 and 8). My son is in hockey, my daughter is in gymnastics, and they both take an art class together twice a month. That's plenty running around in my book!

I have successfully resisted signing up our 3 year old daughter, Lucia, for any activities, in spite of the adorable names they give these classes – "wiggles and giggles" was particularly tempting. Instead, she spends her days playing with her little brother, changing into more outfits than Bette Midler in a Vegas show, and putting on endless performances for her favorite audience – me and her baby brother, John-Paul.Now that I am that "experienced" mom, nothing gives me more pleasure than letting new moms know that they don't have to feel guilty for not going down the pre-school enrichment road. There will be plenty of time for "enrichment", but so precious few for kitchen dance shows as her baby brother looks on with glee from his high chair and her mommy applauds her every leap and twirl.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.