Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Stressed Out? MY Kids?

Okay, so I’m reading in the news yesterday and I come across this article on MSN that basically says kids need to get back to “old fashioned play.”
It made me stop and think. My kids are pretty normal. Granted, they do Soccer and T-ball and Tennis and Gynmastics and Swimming, and soon we’ll be taking music lessons, but I don’t think they’re having their childhoods stolen from them. Or are they?

This article went on to say that children these days are overstressed and overscheduled. I have to admit, back in Denver we had them in a lot of things. We came to Wisconsin and it was too late to sign up for anything, and since my pregnancy made itself known I’ve been too tired to sign them up. They are currently doing NO sports. (GASP, not even Soccer…not till Spring anyway.) And to be honest, they are the happiest they've been in a while. Go figure.

The article claimed that kids need to have spontaneous play, like building forts or roughhousing with parents or chasing butterflies, NON-STRUCTURED play, that will help stimulate their creativity and their ability to use their imaginations.
Apparently kids who don't have this kind of play--kids who are scheduled for everything, develop all sorts of problems. And frankly, they become boring adults.
I found this highly interesting. I mean, I am not the most structured of parents. I have a very “open” parenting style. My kids know how to entertain themselves, and they don’t need me to play with them in order to have fun. We do lots of "creative play" at our house, that doesn't have to revolve around "Einstien Videos" or basically...have a point.
My kids just...play. Although I have to laugh because one of their favorite things to play is...wait for it..."School."

Reading this article made me feel a little guilty. I have shoved my kids into every activity imaginable, because I didn't really have that growing up, and I want them to be active and involved in lots of things so they'll be "well rounded." But I also remember the summers I had, where I played outside all day and my main companion was my imagination, and I had SO much fun. I wasn't being herded off to T-ball or Basketball camp, or taking extra Summer classes. My time was mine, and all I did was play. And I loved it.

What an eye-opener for me. I think we as parents need to find a happy medium for our kids. They're stressed out enough with pressure from school and homework. I am thinking we keep it to ONE sport at a time for a while. Between school and sports and Scouts and Church activities, they certainly have enough on their plate. I want them to be kids. Not mini-adults.

Where's the fun in that?


Michelle Miles said...

Can I say I agree with you? I think kids need to have downtime where they play all by themselves. I encourage mine to do that - and play outside. I remember lazy summer days where I did nothing and then days I spent with my best friend on the playground and used our imaginations. :) I think you're wise to give them some downtime.

Lowa said...

Yes, I agree 100%. I am glad that you read that. We all want the best for our kids and to expose them to many different things. That is healthy and good.

Like you are going to do, though, one at a time is fine. For example, one sport for the season, maybe a few months off with some swimming/music here and there (or NOTHING) then another sport for 3 or 4 months. They will figure out what they enjoy and want to eventually perhaps stick with or pursue further. But yes, they need to be kids. They need AT LEAST two days a week where they go nowhere, and can just lay around and read or build forts, or make cookies with you and talk, or whatever.

You are a great Mom and your kids will certainly thank you for allowing them time to be kids:)What is the point in running all over?? They grow up so fast anyway, why not lay back and enjoy it, bask in it:) Man, I miss the good ole days! I have also read that kids now are cheated out of outdoor (as in woods, hiking, survival skills, etc) type stuff and how incredibly healthy it is, basically essential. They have programs to bring inner city kids out in the forest for a few weeks at a time and it really impacts them in a great way.

Sorry, didn't mean to go on, but I have tonnes more to say on this. I am very passionate about not over scheduling kids. Hope you are feeling well:)Please let us know if you find maternuty clothes (when you need them) and baby things are extremely different and updated since Thing Three was born. I found that in the space between my third and fourth (sixteen month age difference) that things had changed drastically in that short time. I can't imagine how different six years will be in what new fangled things you can find for this new baby:)