How much is too much when it comes to kids and activities?  When do you know when to pull the plug on extra curricular activities and at what age is is appropriate to push them?

My girls have been doing gymnastics one day a week through the summer.  They LOVE it and so I have kept them on now that school has started.  So far, it has been pretty easy.  I’d pick Katie up from school around 4 and then we would go to gymnastics around 5.

Last Thursday, a coach and I got to talking about letting Katie and Sarah be on an exhibition Cheerleading squad for the gym.  Well, I was a cheerleader once upon a time… back when station wagons took us to practice and back.   But I was in 8th grade.  Well able to handle a long day of school and an activity afterwards.

The cheerleading squad Katie and Sarah will be on meets two times a week, for an hour, right after school.  Besides the fact that I have no idea how I will ever get them there on time with school letting out just 20 minutes before practice, I wonder if it is too much for Katie.  8 hours of Kindergarten and then an hour of practice?  Plus exhibitions on some weekends?

Now, the girls really really, please o please mom, can we please, oh please let us, want to do it.  And every day since last week they have asked if it is time to go to cheerleading class.   And when we got there for the test class tonight, they had a blast.  AND actually seemed to understand the routine they were being taught.

A moment of pride swelled in my stage mother that I am beating down with a cast iron skillet’s little heart as I watched Katie try her first Texas T and Sarah climb up on a little pyramid. But after dabbing wet eyes, my children were delivered back to me.  Sarah glassy eyes with excitement, Katie glassy eyed with exhausted.  It had been too much.

And she has been a pill ever since.

Now, she did go to bed late as we were too preoccupied with the Texas Wildfires burning out of control not far from us last night, and she did get up over night so she did not sleep all that well.  Usually we are in bed by 7:30 and she wakes on her own raring to go.  So there is that to consider in the whole scheme of her tiredness tonight.

But then I got on a phone call with a friend and she said she as having the same worries.  That kids under, say 10, are too young to have so much going on in their lives.  And that she and another friend of hers were struggling with the same dilemma.  Her kids want to do things after school and on weekends, several times a week, but how much is too much for young kids and extra curricular activities?

So I thought I would turn to you, my trusted readers and pose the question.  How do we know if it is too much?  And how do we balance the wants of our kids with the guilt that we might be letting them overdo it as well?