Are your children too busy?

Some of you may have read my ranty post last night about the junior school social.

It got me thinking about our kids. This week they had a market day at school and while Miss C and Miss E loaded up on junk, Master B bought himself a rubber snake. From around 18months, Master B loved animals. I thought it was so cute that he chose to spend his money on a toy snake, at the age of 10 (and a half). I realized that he is still so young. So innocent.

Think back to when you were a child, 6 years old. What were you doing? I was climbing trees, playing with lego or barbies, drawing, or learning to write my name. Yes, learning to write it. When my oldest started school I was shocked at the reading and writing level of majority of the kids. Master B could write his name and knew the alphabet and most numbers. He could count in two languages, Greek and English. I was so proud that my 5 year old boy could do so much. First day of helping out in classroom reading and I was promptly put in my place.

We had a few years of committing to gymnastics, piano lessons, swimming, soccer, ballet, etc. I started finding my kids complain that they didn’t have time to play together. Why was I rushing them here and there? Was it for my benefit? So that I could boast about all that my kids achieve? They weren’t enjoying it, and neither was I. So we culled most of the extra activities, and after homework, I made sure they had plenty of time to play, create, imagine and just be KIDS. Even now, I try to teach the kids to plan out their homework using this planner  so that they have at least one night off.

I think it’s important to protect our kids innocence, and protect their time as kids. Give them a proper childhood. How many times have you wished to go back to your own childhood, because we grew up in a time where kids didn’t have as much (school-related) responsibility, more time to dream and more time to play. Now, I’m not saying kids should sit on their butts and do nothing, I think kids should have chores, and they should have expectations placed on them. But do they need to play 3 different sports? No.
The other thing I have heard parents say is that their kids need to be kept busy or they end up fighting with each other. At the start of every school holiday, my kids spend the first day or so fighting. They aren’t used to being in each other’s space so much and need to re-learn to an extent, how to be around each other again. This is a good skill for them to learn. If they are frustrated, they need to learn how to cool off. If they are bored they need to learn how to entertain themselves. My kids’ ages range from 19months to 10.5 years old, so finding something that they are all happy to do is hard. They sometimes pair off, but they also need to compromise and play all together. This is another great skill to learn. Keeping the kids busy in structured activities stifles creativity, and takes away the opportunity to learn skills that cannot be taught in a classroom.

Have you looked at your family’s schedule lately? Do you have spare time scheduled in? How many activities do your kids do?


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