Unscheduled Time In Your Child’s Day
Free Time for Kids
Kids are busier than ever. Between a full schedule during the school day and all the extracurricular activities after school, many children have little downtime. It’s important that children have interests outside of school and family, but how much is too much?
A busy life can be rewarding, but the potential for over-scheduling is a real concern. You probably lead a busy life yourself with work, family, and household chores. Keeping your child busy may seem like the best thing to do, but there can be too much of a good thing. You need downtime, and so do your children.
Over-Scheduling and Stress
Most kids love being involved in lots of activities—it’s fun—but it’s also stressful. Homework, dinnertime, and fun with the family are important as well. If everyone is running around in different directions, there won’t be any downtime. And, when there isn’t any time to relax, stress starts to bubble up and boil over. Parents and kids both feel this stress. When kids are on the go 24/7 they can wear themselves out and become exhausted and stressed. This stress may even cause your kids to lose the motivation they once had for the activities they love.
Busy Family Scenario
On an average night, your family may not get home until well after six o’clock at night. Then you run around getting dinner ready and the kids are headed off to do homework. By the time you’re finished with dinner, you barely have time to sit down and relax before going to bed. Then, the alarm goes off and you are up and at it again. This schedule, when repeated day in and day out, is hard on you, and it’s hard on your kids.
You may be thinking, “But this is how it is all week since the kids are busy with school and you’re busy with work. The weekend’s coming so we can all just relax, right?” Wrong. The weekend comes and you have chores and errands. The kids will probably have games and more activities to attend. You probably find yourself running all weekend just like you did all week. When is your downtime?
Schedule Slow Time
You’re great at scheduling all your activities, right? Why not schedule in a bit of slow time for you and your kids as well? Everyone needs to have a day off. You need time to clear your head and relax, and so does the rest of the family. Just because kids have all the energy in the world doesn’t mean they don’t need to slow down and relax. Children’s high energy can fool parents into thinking their kids are always ready to go. It’s your job to give your child some downtime to relax, even when it doesn’t appear they need it.
You can let your child enjoy many extracurricular activities throughout the year, but the key is to limit overlapping activities during each season. For example, your child can learn karate in the summer, soccer in the spring, and football in the fall. This way your child stays active all year without the stress of trying to do everything all at once. Scatter a few short summer camps or weekend excursions carefully throughout the year, but for every activity make sure you schedule some good downtime in between. Your child needs unscheduled time, too—time to pick wildflowers, build a snowman, listen to music, doodle, play games, or daydream.
Whether your scheduled downtime includes a movie or game at home, or a picnic at the park, what’s important is that you and your children learn it’s not only okay to relax, it’s part of your healthy and happy life!