EDITORIAL: Stop the scheduling insanity this year, Squamish parents

This school year, vow your kids will do less, not more.

Remember Susan Powter, the U.S. fitness and health guru, of the 1990s who famously and consistently screamed, “Stop the Insanity!” about the diet industry?

Her catchphrase could just as easily apply to the over-scheduling of kids in Squamish and beyond.

For many families, once school starts, life is completely unbalanced.

After a day of learning, many local kids juggle multiple sports, music and language lessons or volunteering.

Not to mention homework, church (for some), a part-time job and chores.

The drive to offer kids all the opportunities the Sea to Sky Corridor provides is well meaning and intense.

As students in Squamish — and all 545,805 students who attend B.C.’s 1,578 public and 364 private schools, for that matter— adjust to back to school, parents would do themselves and their kids a favour by thinking about how to reduce the whole family’s commitments.

While over-scheduling isn’t something most kids dealt with in previous eras — privileged kids in the 1970s and 1980s took on a sport per season or a music lesson, almost never more than that — hyper-parenting is common in other cultures and has been a topic of discussion in the U.S. and Canada for decades.

In 2001, Dr. Alvin Rosenfeld and Nicole Wise wrote about “avoiding the hyper-parenting trap” in their book, The Over-Scheduled Child. The aim of the book is simple: to permit parents to step back, to lighten their own and their children’s load — creating calm in a time of chaos.

Especially in Squamish, where a free evening or weekend never has to mean doing nothing, it is OK to not have an organized sport or event for your kids.

Let them explore, get bored and play.

They will be better than OK for it, and so will you.

Allison Green, a Squamish clinical counsellor, even stresses that being bored is a good thing.

“I love hearing kids say they are bored because being bored will lead to daydreaming, creativity, imagination and problem-solving,” she told The Chief. “They will eventually find something to do that is usually pretty rewarding for them.”

And while today’s parents put their children first, that should not come at the cost of adult lives. Parents need downtime and interests too or else the burden for their own happiness is downloaded onto kids, where it doesn’t belong.

Part of parenting isn’t just making sure your children have every advantage in a competitive world, but also ensuring they learn to balance all the pressures.

Back to school really doesn’t have to mean back to stress for anyone.

@ Copyright Squamish Chief