Here is a truth: no one will ever, and I mean ever, accuse Brent and I of over-scheduling our kids. Ever. I have heard reports and read many articles about children who are constantly rushed and who have very little free time in their days because they are so scheduled with activities. And it stresses them out! No thank you, I think I’ll pass on that.
Last night at dinner, Brent and I were discussing how it might be nice to sign up the kids for a few more activities in the fall, maybe a sport or a class or a club. That may or may not happen. We’ll have to wait and see. As our dinner conversation progressed, we tried to evaluate the big picture when it came to our kids and their “extra curriculars”. Our kids can read (for pleasure or for information), follow directions, carry on a conversation with a friend or a stranger, problem solve, work hard, and use their imaginations. Now Brent and I know better than anyone that our kids aren’t perfect. Believe me! There are some particular character traits that we continue to try to develop. But we feel pretty good about our kids’ progress in the skills and traits that matter most. And we want our schedules to foster and enhance that development, not impede it.
So what does a group of siblings do all day if every minute of the day isn’t scheduled and planned? Are there really days, especially in the summer, where there is no particular agenda beyond some daily chores and mealtimes? What happens when they get bored? These are all good questions. To be perfectly honest, when boredom comes, and believe me it does come, that’s when the really creative stuff starts to happen. Eventually, the best games get invented, all the little bugs in the back yard get noticed, the quality books get devoured, the pretend adventures get really interesting. They usually involve lots of rescuing, and swashbuckling, and all sorts of ways to save the world from imminent disaster. I mean, what’s the point of playing pretend if you can’t save the world while you’re doing it? I had so much fun today watching the kids make their way through the day without a parent-led plan. It just happened. And it was great!
checking on the bean plants
making her way through an adventure
helping Mom in the kitchen
creating clues for a scavenger hunt. FYI: this activity probably accomplishes a whole lot of Common Core standards.
finding a clue on the hunt
searching every nook and cranny
Don’t worry if there are unscheduled parts of your day, especially your child’s day. When we have a chunk of hours without a plan, I don’t panic, or even try to get really purposeful. I just think, “Oh goody! That means something fun is going to develop. Something good is bound to happen.” The kids know where the toys are, where the books are, where the school supplies are, and where the boundaries are. That’s pretty much all they need. And they know where I am when they’re ready to share and tell me the cool things they’ve been doing. I can’t wait to hear all about it.