Why Simplify?

7 Reasons Why Simplifying Your Child's Schedule Impacts Health, Finances and Life!

Written by Karen Zeigler

Everyone knows the popular "Why?" game that young children play. It can drive a parent crazy. Why is the sky blue? Why does Grandma's skin look like an elephant's skin? Even though I was annoyed when my daughter had her 100th "why" of the day, I find the game to be beneficial for getting to the bottom of some very important financial and life issues. In this article and the series that follows, you'll discover "Why simplify?"

While surfing the Internet recently, I came across this headline, "The average child lacks 90 minutes of sleep per night." This grabbed my attention because we'd just had the daylight-saving time change. I lost one hour of sleep for one night and I was still feeling effects of that change. If I was still exhausted after a week of loosing one hour of sleep, how tired must our children be when they loose 90 minutes of sleep a night? And more importantly, why are they loosing so much sleep? One reason the article suggested is that kids and parents alike are lacking sleep due to over scheduling extracurricular activities.

There are certainly many advantages to having children involved in extracurricular activities. But let's focus on "why" simplifying your families' extra curricular activities can simplify not just your schedules and your life, but your finances as well.

Experts estimate that parents spend $1,000 per activity per season for uniforms, equipment, private lessons, accessories and activity related trips. These figures don't include the cost of gas, extra meals out, or the priceless cost to our health from poor nutrition while eating on the run, stress and sleep deprivation.

Even if you use the $1,000 as a conservative cost for everything, multiply that by two to three activities that most children are involved in and two to three children in the average family. It can quickly add up to $4,000-$6,000 a year in expenses. I regularly talk with families who don't take family vacations because they can't afford them.

"Why" do we neglect the chance to relax and enjoy a family vacation just to spend another week in a mad rush to get to soccer, piano and the other activities to which we have committed? Do we think that the memories of rushing to practice will stand out above building sand castles with mom and dad? For an investment as large as $4,000 to $6,000 a year, shouldn't we ask ourselves "why" this activity is so important and will I receive the best return on my investment in terms of simplifying my finances, my life and the life of my family?

The second reason to consider simplifying your children's activities is the cost of eating out. Americans spend $110 billion a year to eat out. A family of four is lucky if they can eat out for $20. At three times a week, that's $3,000. Meals prepared at home can be one-fourth to one-half as expensive as eating out. The cost savings is only one benefit to having family dinners at home. Here are some other very important reasons:

•Connect with your family and keep the doors of communication open;

•Reduce the risk of substance abuse. Children who don't eat regularly with their family are 3 1/2 times more likely to use drugs than those who have family meals together.

•Studies show improved grades and improved attitudes by children who eat with their family;

•Model and teach valuable life skills like communication, planning and responsibility;

•Improved health, not just from better nutrition, but also from the increased likelihood that your children will get to bed on time and receive adequate rest.

These are just a few reasons "why" you should simplify your child's activities. If you continue to play the "Why" game, you'll come up with more reasons to reduce the activities and increase the bank balance. Go ahead and spend more time hanging out with your family relaxing and having fun. "Why" not?

Karen Zeigler Speaker, Author & Life Coach