Today’s post comes from Saida of A Breath of Simplicity.
“Children need free, unstructured time. They need time to do “nothing”; time to do handstands. Or to figure out a way to get the ice-cream truck to continue straight down the block without always turning the corner.” ~ Simplicity Parenting
This quote is from my absolute favorite simplicity book. If you’re anything like me, it has the power to transport you back to your childhood and it does a very good job of describing how childhood should be.
Summer at our home has been a whirlwind of activities and I can’t help but feel like I’ve been short changed.
There were so many things I wanted to do this Summer: Go camping, learn to ride a bike (me! the kids already know how), post more regularly on my blog…
Whilst I didn’t exactly follow the plan – there certainly wasn’t a lack of things to do.
At the end of June we moved into our new home and we only had a week before the start of Ramadhan (a month that is celebrated by muslims throughout the world where we begin a month long ritual of fasting from sunrise to sunset). Ramadhan was followed by my sister-in-law’s wedding and a constant flow of house guests.
My mum is presently visiting from London, England and when she leaves next week, the younger kids will be able to settle into their new rooms (they’ve been sharing each others room since the beginning of July).
It’s been busy and I admit that my enthusiasm for simple living has taken a back seat over the last several weeks.
Fall arrived far too quickly but the kids have managed to settle into a routine with their new schools. For many families, a new school year begins the round-up of after-school activities that got shelved over the long Summer months. Now that school is back in full swing, it’s time to sign up for swim lessons and soccer club.
For the past 2 years, my 12-year-old has been asking to take up karate lessons. When I discovered a great little karate place by our new home (within walking distance, I might add), I signed up three of my kids for a 2-week trial session.
Karate requires commitment and most studios suggest you attend 2-3 classes a week in order to make progress.
My kids were attending classes twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays. They were learning to listen and follow instructions and were getting a fabulous work-out. And it was fun! In fact, they were exposed to everything good that karate is hyped up to be.
I was ready to sign them up for the long haul but a return of mid-Summer weather stopped me in my tracks. During the second week of their trial session, the temperature rose to the mid 20′s. The kids wanted to go the park after school.
We didn’t have time to go play in the park. We had swimming and karate lessons.
I had fallen (again) into the trap of over scheduling.
At ages 4 and 7 my kids don’t need karate lessons to learn about discipline. Trust me, they learn enough about it at home! They also don’t need daily exercise from scheduled classes. A visit to the park and free-time in the yard can fulfill this need quite adequately – and save me money!
On days when they are feeling tired, they can skip the park and opt for some quiet time indoors. This option is much less viable when you’ve forked out hundreds of dollars to participate in scheduled activities.
Luckily for me, I was reminded of my resolution to cut down on scheduled activities before it was too late to back out. It’s easy to fall into the trap of more. I want more for MY kids.
I want them to learn to skate and swim. I want them to explore their creativity and do gymnastics and honestly, my list could go on and on!
As parents we need to PAUSE and BREATHE. And prioritize.
We need to remind ourselves that kids need downtime. Kids NEED time to draw, paint, read, build fortes and tall towers.They need time to ride their bikes, climb the monkey bars and play dress-up.
They need time to be bored.
As you adjust to the end of Summer and settle into the new school year, remind yourselves to take the time to UNschedule so that your family can experience life, uncomplicated.
On a side note, my 12 year old has decided that she wants to continue with Karate, and that’s fine by me. It’s something she’s wanted to pursue for awhile and she doesn’t have much else going on in her schedule. It works for her because she’s older. Believe me, she has no desire to climb monkey bars at the park!
For now, I’ve settled for swimming lessons once a week. In the Winter we’ll switch over to skating lessons. Growing up, I didn’t have the opportunity to learn these skills (yes, I didn’t learn to ride a bike either) and I regret it.
It’s important to me that my kids have the opportunity to learn these skills. As for sports, I think the kids are doing just fine with riding their bikes and scooters and by simply spending time outdoors. I’ll probably reassess when it begins to snow.
When they’re older they can try out new things if they want, but for now, I think we’re good.
Did you UNschedule?
Saida is a mum of four and a simple living enthusiast. She writes about her journey on her blog A Breath of Simplicity. You can follow her at A Breath of Simplicity.PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.