Yeah, I am going to have this down to a science when my kids get to the ages where they "should" be enrolled in every activity known to man. Not only do I treasure my time at home, but I also refuse to follow my children around and have their activities dictate my weekends and evenings. Shannon and I have discussed this a few times already and we both agree that the two little monsters that our DNA created are not going to be the focus of all our time.
Did you know that since 1995 the average mom has upped her average hours of attending to her kids (this does not mean meals, solitary play, and bedtime) from 12 to 21? So, moms now spend 9 more hours a week micromanaging their children, watching them like hawks, carting them off to activities, and organizing playtime. Um, that sounds so not fun to me. RJ and Lily for the most part play quite well together. They also play well by themselves. Before Lily was born RJ would sit and play by himself all the time and there is only 16 months between them, so he was young. I never really felt bad about it because he was completely content and that was all that mattered.
In the article from Parents, Dr. Thompson discusses how important it is for children to have special moments and successes. He said that if parents are always hovering in the wings, then these successes never really become the child's moment, never really become special and a memory that will stick with them. Think back to when you were a kid. What was something that you remember doing that was really special, were either of your parents present? All the fun, special memories that I have really have nothing to do with my parents. The memories I have as a young kid include my sister and brother, Michelle, Anna, Erica, Jane, Mandy and Cindy, Tara, the Lalonde girls, and Tom and John from across the street.
The article, and Dr. Thompson, go on to discuss the fact that the biggest change in childhood in the United States over the past 20 years is that parents have taken away unsupervised playtime. Taking away this independence from our children deprives them of ever being able to do things on their own and of feeling a sense of pride and excitement. It is important that children are given the chance to be "bored" so that they have to figure out how to entertain themselves and be creative. They should not be relying on their parents to come up with the next activity in their day
I am already doing a great job practicing because I tend to ignore my kids on a pretty regular basis and let them entertain themselves. I step in when I fear that there might be bloodshed, but I rarely plan activities for them. Let me rephrase that, I cannot remember the last time I planned an activity for them and it is not like I just let them sit in front of the TV all evening or weekend. Usually when we get home I need to go outside and take care of the animals so the kids are left inside for a bit on their own. Usually when I get back inside they are coloring or playing with something and RJ has most likely gotten them each a snack. After dinner Shannon and I will most likely put on a show or watch a game and the kids are left to themselves again.
I have no plans on allowing these two to sign up for every activity under the sun. I cringe when I hear stories of other people's kids and how weekends are crammed with going to this game or going to that class, weekends should be relaxing and valued and time to just be. Right now I intend to sign them up for swim lessons (I just keep forgetting) and I do not feel too guilty that they are not doing that. They swim all summer in our pool, so they are getting swim practice.
O'Connor, G. (2014, January). Why We Need to Lean Back (From Our Kids). Parents, 55- 58.