We have all heard of the term and most likely experienced FOMO – the fearing of missing out. For parents I think there is another fear of missing out that we don’t talk so much about. It is the fear of your kids missing out or the not so easily pronounced acronym FOYKMO.
I feel qualified to write on this topic, because I have spent my own fair share of time suffering from FOYKMO. I think I got better at worrying less about what our kids were missing out on, the more kids I had.
One of the side effects of having five kids is that to stay sane you have to accept that your kids cannot do everything. There is only one of you and you can’t be in multiple places at once so there has to be a limit on how much the kids do. (Yes my husband helps out where he can, but the after school stuff is usually my domain.)
Fear Of Your Kids Missing Out – FOYKMO
I do know the agonising that this is part of FOYKMO. When faced with a choice for your child to do a certain activity etc, thoughts like these can often go through your mind:
- Everyone else is doing it, they will be the only kid not learning this fabulous new skill.
- Will this put them behind their peers if they don’t do it?
- All their best friends are doing it, they will be left out of the group if they don’t do it.
- Will this make it harder for them to get into the team next year?
- They really love this activity and they will be sad not to do it again next term.
- They are only doing x activities, maybe one more couldn’t hurt?
- All the research says it is a great thing to do for kids’ development.
Fear of our kids missing out can steer us in the direction where we make a decision that isn’t necessarily best for our child or for our family. Our fears and reactions are well intentioned – we want the best for our kids and we want to give them as many opportunities as possible.
But there can be too much of a good thing. For example:
- If we say yes to an activity because everyone else is doing it, yet we know our child isn’t go to enjoy the activity and they end up begrudgingly doing it.
- We put them in an after school class so they won’t “fall behind”, but getting them there every week causes a huge fight.
- If we say yes to the activity just to avoid initial disappointment from our child, but then have to suffer an irritable and over tired baby as we stand on the edge of an oval waiting for training to finish.
- We stretch ourselves and add additional run around to the after school week, to add an extra activity so he will be with his “all his friends”, that he sees everyday at school anyway!
I am not anti extra curricular activities. My kids all do after school activities of some form, but with a rare exception, we have always capped it at two activities per child at a time. I am not saying this is a formula that will work for every family. Every family is different and how many activities kids will do will depend on:
- Parent availability to get them to and from the activity
- Family finances
- The number of children in the family
- The personality of the individual child – some kids thrive on being in organised activities others simply don’t
As parents we need to base our decisions on what activities kids do not on our fears, but on what is best for the child involved and the family.
There have been times when I have reduced the activities the kids are doing due to family circumstances. When we had a new baby we would take a rest from swimming lessons if needed. When all the kids were little and we had a child in prep, we would minimise the number of activities for everyone so there was only minimal running around after school for the first term as they settled into school.
Sometime though, if you scratch a little deeper, go deeper into the reasons behind FOYKMO you may actually find a little FOMO! Maybe along these lines (and maybe I know these because maybe I have felt this 🙂 ):
- All the other mums will hang out together at the games and I won’t be part of it.
- The activity looks great and I would enjoy it too.
- I want to say our kids do/did this activity.
None of those are good reasons for a kid to do an activity, but the reality is that sometimes it is our FOMO that directs our decision on what activities our kids will do. These emotions are real and I am not saying they aren’t valid, but we need to be honest with ourselves about why we are making the decision. We need to make sure the decision isn’t going to be one we regret because our child ends up hating the activity or we end up hating it because the extra work involved in getting to and from it causes us stress.
So as we sign our kids up to new activities this term, a reminder that self awareness is the key. Question your reasoning for why you are choosing for your child to the activity and make sure it is for the right reasons.
How many extra curricular activities do your kids do at the moment?