Extracurricular Activities for Children Who Want to Do Everything

Extracurricular Activities for children who want to do everything

“Why do you make your daughter do so many extracurricular activities?”

I nearly choked on my tea. “Is it because you feel guilty for taking her out of school?” A woman asked me this at a kids’ birthday party when my daughter was 6.

Make my daughter do extra-curricular activities? She couldn’t have got it more wrong.

My daughter had gone to a school that ran dozens of extracurricular clubs. She signed up for as many as 5-year-olds were allowed. Out of school, she wanted to do rugby, football, judo, singing, dance and drama.

If I dragged my heels finding an activity she wanted to do, my daughter would google local classes and hand me the phone. “I really want to try it, Mummy. Pleeease?”

She loved every one of her activities. But she was becoming exhausted.

It’s not that our schedule was abnormal. Several of her friends had the same busy lives. The difference was that those kids didn’t throw themselves into everything with the same intensity as my daughter.

The result? I never got to see my sweet, fun-loving girl. All her family got was the grumpy, worn out child that was left at the end of each day.

“We can’t go on like this, sweetie.” I said. “What would you like to give up?”

Cordie looked at her brother, who’d been homeschooled for a term. “Maybe I could give up school?”

Passionate about everything

From martial arts to gymnastics, through art classes, scouts, climbing, wake-boarding and ice skating, my daughter’s problem has always been fitting in everything she wants to do.

Having an introverted brother with OEs has brought even more activities along the way: my daughter goes along to keep her brother company. Then a few weeks later he drops out (or is dropped), by which time Cordie’s an enthusiastic participant in her own right!

Multi-potential and extroverted, at 12 my daughter’s showing no signs of slowing down.

Do you have a child who wants to do everything, too?

If you do, you’ll know it brings many benefits – and a few challenges, too.

The benefits of being into everything

  • I adore my daughter’s zest for life.
  • I love how her life is enriched by the enormous range of people she mixes with.
  • I’m in awe of her extraordinary physical fitness.
  • I love that she’s learning leadership and team skills.
  • And I adore that she’s spending her childhood discovering what she loves to do.

I guess I just never anticipated there’d be quite so many things she’d love to do!

The challenges of being into everything

When you have a child who wants to try – and excel at – everything, you have to:

  • Help her manage her energy.
  • Remind her she needs downtime: to cuddle pets, to read, to doodle.
  • Encourage her to leave space for spontaneous pleasures.
  • Be the (sometimes unwelcome) voice of reason, suggesting now and again that something has to give.
  • Appreciate her drive for excellence, while letting her know that it’s okay to do some things just for fun.
  • Remind her to make time to work towards her academic goals.
  • Support her as she manages her relationships. Children with emotional OE crave depth in friendships, which may be difficult to satisfy when you only see friends and acquaintances once or twice a week.
  • Balance siblings’ needs. Keep them happy if they have to go everywhere with you. Even when they’re old enough to stay home alone, you need enough time and energy to meet their needs.
  • Manage your own energy. All that chauffering can be exhausting! If you’re an introvert, try listening to audiobooks in the car together. Maintaining your personal baseline is vital when you’re parenting kids with OEs.

Supporting our children’s unique needs

If my kids weren’t so very different from one another, I might worry that I’d done something wrong to create such extreme characters.

I might have wondered if I really was ‘forcing’ my daughter to do extracurricular activities. Or I might have worried that I wasn’t exposing my son to enough opportunities.

But with just 16 months between them and an identical upbringing, my kids’ choices are plainly their own.

So wherever your kids are on the extracurricular spectrum – trust that you’re not getting it wrong.

Our children each have their own paths to forge in this world. Our job is to love unconditionally, to support when needed, and to help each child flourish as the unique individual he or she was born to be.

Extracurricular activities for children who want to do everything

Related Posts

Choosing Extracurricular Activities for Children with Overexcitabilities Finding extracurricular activities for an introverted child with intense OEs.

What’s it like being a tween with overexcitabilities? Video (and written) interview with my 12-year-old daughter in which, among other things, she talks about how much she loves her activities.

Homeschooling and Extracurricular Activities – How Much Is Too Much? A post from my homeschooling blog when my children were 8 and 9.

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Does your child want to do everything?

How do you help them find balance?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments or on the Laugh, Love, Learn Facebook page. 🙂

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19 thoughts on “Extracurricular Activities for Children Who Want to Do Everything

  1. I actually giggled our loud at the part where your daughter says that she could give up school. This is us too. I have two boys who want to do it all. They haven’t found anything that they really do not like or do not want to try. And I think that we have. We just sat down this morning to discuss our schedule and the importance of slowing down to appreciate what we have and the process of simple activities too. Of course, my two boys also said that school seems too long (we do about 2 hours of it each day. LOL). Oh my. 🙂
    Great blog.

    1. LOL about your boys’ opinion of school. 😄 And – oh my – the thought of having two children who want to try everything sounds exhausting! Do they at least overlap in their activities?
      Thank you for your encouragement, Sharon!

  2. My daughter (10) is interested in many, many things but has a real aversion to group activities. She can’t tolerate what seems like arbitrary rules and processes. She also has a very low tolerance for ‘children’. :o)
    So, I’m definitely in the I-worry-we’re-doing-too-little-extracurricula camp.

    Completely off topic – my three girls saw Dan and Phil last night. They loved it. Those boys are like rock stars. I could hear all the screaming from outside the venue.
    My 10yr old (overflowing with the full range of OEs) was so anxious about going to the show, we went for a recon visit to the venue the day before. Success! She went in with her sisters, with minimal fuss. I’m so pleased that she worked through her anxiety to do something she really wanted to do.

    Also completely off topic – I have a book rec for you now. Nick Earls is the author – he’s Australian and hilarious. My favourites are Perfect Skin and World of Chickens.
    Just a word of warning – Nick Earls has one children’s book series about etymology, called Word Hunters, which is excellent. However, all his other books are definitely adult.

    1. I do enjoy hearing snippets about your 10-year-old, M. She sounds like a wonderful character. I empathise (and I think my son would too) about the arbitrary rules and processes. I think maybe activities for adults are maybe a bit more fair and respectful?

      I’m so glad to hear Dan and Phil was a success for everyone! I can imagine the screaming. 😂 I’ve just set a tracker to find out when they’re next touring here.

      Thanks for the book rec, I’ll definitely give Nick Earls a go. I was disappointed to see that neither of those 2 specific books is on Audible (yet), though Bachelor Kisses is. Is that a prequel to Perfect Skin, or could I read Perfect Skin first? (I do sometimes read actual words, but what with housework, driving and dog-walking, I get through a lot more audiobooks these days.) Thanks for the tip btw. I might look into Word Hunters for my daughter.

      1. Not too long ago my 10yr old was really excited about an upcoming group activity. This was exciting for me too, because she generally is very negative about group things. But this one was at a library and she’d been personally invited by the lady who ran the group, because she’d seen my daughter there reading a crochet book. My daughter had immediate rapport with the lady, they chatted about crochet, and we signed up for her group then and there. A couple of weeks passed with positive anticipation. I got a phone call the day before the first session saying that my daughter wasn’t able to come anymore because she was too young and they didn’t want children disturbing the event. Oh my, I was LIVID. Now, I’m generally a calm, patient person, or so I like to think, but this was such injustice. I reminded them that she was invited to attend and it is disrespectful to uninvite her the day before. Their response – it’s policy. I’m still angry just typing this now, months later. And this isn’t an isolated event. It’s happened before with science workshops and also volunteering opportunities.

        So, the moral of that story is that my daughter doesn’t like children’s events (and they often don’t cater for her interests and abilities anyway) and isn’t allowed into teen or adult events, purely because of her age. Grrrrr. Okay, vent over :o)

        Regarding Nick Earls – Bachelor Kisses would be one of my least favourites … I wouldn’t want you judging him on that one. Bachelor Kisses has the same main character but you definitely don’t need to read it first. What other options do you have?
        And I highly recommend Word Hunters for your kids. One thing we love about Nick Earls books is that they are set in our city and even our part of the city, so we know the roads, shops, cinemas etc that are mentioned. That’s pretty cool.

        Sorry, I’ve written an essay on your blog!
        Do you have a chat forum for unrelated chattiness? There’s all sorts of things I’d love to chat with you about :o)

        1. I can quite imagine your fury about the crochet group! “Policy” – pah! How very frustrating. Your daughter must have been so disappointed (and felt very badly treated). Feel free to vent here anytime!

          I won’t start with Bachelor Kisses, then. Audible has Zigzag Street, Headgames and 48 Shades of Brown. But I’m happy to read a kindle version if you think I’d be better off with one of your two original suggestions.

          I always love your ‘essays’, btw – no apology required! I’d love to chat more too. Feel free to email me anytime – address is on my About Me page (won’t repeat it here because of the robo-spam). 🙂

          1. I’d suggest Headgames. It’s a collection of short stories and it introduces two fabulous characters, Frank and Philby, who are the main characters in World of Chickens.

            Enjoy!

          2. Done! Thanks, M. I’m in the middle of about 8 audiobooks at the moment, including 3 fiction, so I shall wait until I finish one of the fictions and then get started!

  3. THIS! “Appreciate her drive for excellence, while letting her know that it’s okay to do some things just for fun.” This is key for us 🙂

  4. I love how you help her manage her energy and channel her interests – great parenting advice right there! I loved this post – my 5yo has the energy and excitement of a bouncing puppy and would love to try everything (at least, until we have issues and it doesn’t work) so this is great advice.

  5. Y’know, you guys are so blessed to be able to financially be able to meet your two children where they are at and give them what they need. I am certain they will be incredible adults. I have at least three (possibly four) who are exactly like Cordie and would love to do so much more than they do, but unless I went out to work we simply can’t afford to let them. Each of our children is allowed one activity, although Charlotte gets singing lessons in addition to piano because Gary pays for them by doing some gardening for the singing teacher!
    I just have to believe what they get will be enough, even though I know Charlotte in particular would thrive with a similar schedule to your daughter’s. She would love to have acting classes, and dancing, and and and…..!

    1. Claire, I do feel fortunate that we’re able to support Cordie’s desire to do so much. On the other hand, I’m blown away by the financial maturity your children have. They must also be very focused on what they want to do as their one main extracurricular.

      I grew up as the eldest of 3 in a single parent family. We were often dependent on state benefits (I had free school meals at the private school I had an assisted place to go to!). While I was slightly aware of missing out on things other kids did – music lessons were a big one – I think it helped me develop a really strong lifelong learner mindset (which is one of the reasons I’m now working towards grade 7 classical guitar :)). Unlike your kids, I was reliant on the public library for my entertainment, though – there were no exciting 80 Days or Little House Summer projects! I’m certain that your children will turn into incredible adults, too. 🙂

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