Our children’s lives may be overscheduled | PostIndependent.com

Our children’s lives may be overscheduled

The other day, I called a friend of mine who lives in Virginia. I hadn’t talked to her in months. I could hear the frustration and anxiety in her voice when she picked up the phone. Her two young children, ages 6 and 4, were yelling in the background. She proceeded to tell me that she couldn’t talk because she was taking the boys to their swimming lessons and then they were going to the park, then on a play date and finally out to dinner with the grandparents. So I offered to call her the next day. Unfortunately she couldn’t talk then, either, because the boys were going to karate in the morning, then to the library, the grocery store, then a birthday party and dinner at their aunt’s. I was exhausted by the time she explained everything she and her boys were doing. I began to think about how scheduled our lives are, and in turn our children’s lives. I remember as a child going outside to play for hours and on some days, never leaving the comfort of my home. Are we giving our children so much to do that they don’t know what to do? I asked myself, “When do these children just play?”Children need time at home where they are comfortable and at ease. Allowing children to have unscheduled time helps them to learn what they can do, to use their imagination and their problem-solving skills. Having unscheduled time encourages the child to enjoy quiet time and to experiment with new ideas. It is important to provide at-home play that is stimulating and interesting. However, have some ideas that your children can decide about on their own, such as art projects that your children can start and finish on their own, books and puzzles that are interesting, or outdoor toys that allow your children to initiate their own play. In addition, have your special time alone with your child, time when you are not bombarded with outside stimulation, such as activity or people. Time when you can sit and play a quiet game with your child, or read a book together. Your children will remember the time you spent with them, giving them your undivided attention. They will appreciate the time they had at home using their imagination and resourcefulness to entertain themselves. If we need a break from our schedules, so do our children.Amy Leach is a YouthZone counselor.

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