My Parenting Perspectives column from Feb. 9.
My daughter’s not quite 2, but already she knows the days of the week.
Granted, it sounds a lot like that line from “The Godfather” – “Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday …” – but she’s beginning to understand that each day is different. And I’m beginning to realize I need to provide structure to each day.
So we started an Early Childhood Family Education class, “music-gym-cracker” as Eve calls it, on Mondays. She goes to day care on Tuesdays and Thursdays. And I just signed us up for toddler story time Wednesdays at the library.
Add in a couple hours a week at my gym’s day care, trips to the grocery store with me and time to play on the dinosaurs at West Acres, and suddenly she needs her own Fisher-Price day planner.
Who knew I’d worry about over-scheduling a toddler?
Even before my husband and I had a baby, we knew we wanted to avoid that trap. He used to work with a woman whose preteen children were in so many activities, we wondered when they slept. One sport and one other extracurricular, like Girl Scouts or piano, seemed like plenty for a grade-school student.
But here I am talking about a preschooler.
If we had the financial means, Eve could concurrently be in swimming lessons, gymnastics, ice skating classes and Kindermusik, all by the age of 2. In another year, she could add dance and karate. There’s even soccer for preschoolers.
All good things, but not all together. We rush enough.
Kids need free time to play, read, color and cuddle. To learn about numbers, letters and those days of the week we’re so eager to fill.
I think parents can get caught up in all the activities offered, feeling like they have to provide their child with opportunities early on, to nurture their talents, and to keep up with the Little Johnnys.
And stay-at-home moms rightfully want to add some adult interaction to their days. Cabin fever sets in pretty quickly at my house.
But balance is the key, to provide structure and stimulation without over-scheduling.
A class here and there can offer that. But more important is offering consistency and calm.
That’s why the most important appointment in Eve’s virtual day planner is probably her nap time.
I don’t just pencil that in. It’s in marker.
Sherri Richards is mother of a 22-month-old daughter and an employee of The Forum. She’s also “Top Mom” at http://moms.inforum.com