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Are Our Children Overscheduled? – by Focus on the Family

July 15, 2011

Today I have copied, Focus on the Family’s blog OR did they copy me?  See what did I tell you!  Read and enjoy Jim Daly’s blog.

How did you spend your summer days as a child?

 For many years I lived a short distance from my elementary school. My friends and I would play baseball over on the school field, riding our bikes home for lunch and then meeting back up for another 4 or 5 hours of play.

 No uniforms. No umpires. No adults. Just the kids – like a typical Charlie Brown episode, minus the “wah, wah, woh, wah” adult soundtrack from the sidelines.

 When I lived with my dad, his apartment complex had a swimming pool. I would spend hours at a clip in there, often alone, diving for coins and rocks on the bottom. In fact, I spent so much time in that cement tank that I rubbed off multiple layers of skin from my feet. The bloody toes and heels couldn’t stop me from going back for more.

 Times have changed, of course, and few parents feel comfortable letting their kids ride for hours on end around the neighborhood, or swim by themselves in an apartment or community pool.

 But I wonder if in the interest of many factors including safety, keeping up with Joneses, acquiescing to kids’ desires, expectations of year-round training for young athletes and even a lack of imagination we’ve wound up overscheduling our children, signing them up for a litany of camps, classes and other formal activities.  These are probably all good things – but what if doing “nothing” was best of all?

 As I’ve mentioned before, there is tremendous value for children in unstructured play. It forces youngsters to use their imagination and learn to daydream and improvise. Given the opportunity, many will create games, invest in their current hobbies and even develop new ones. If you’ve ever doubted the potential of a child to make something out of practically nothing, try giving them an empty refrigerator box, a roll of tape and a Magic Marker. Or bring them to the shore and give them a shovel and a pail.

 It’s important for parents to remember that they’re not the recreational director on a cruise ship. A parent is expected to lead and guide their children in every area of life, including play – or no play at all. In an age of helicopter parenting and moms and dads who often invest significant time and resources in their child’s formal education, it’s easy to forget that helping teach our children how to play and rest is also very important.

 By helping our children see the value in unstructured or unscheduled time, we’re preparing them for a healthy and balanced adult life. That’s because despite what many people seem to believe, busyness does not necessarily equate to success – and it most certainly doesn’t lead to happiness as a family if we spend half of our time in a car shuttling our children from one outing to the next.

I am 12 views short of 1,000.  Today should be the day.  The first 5 comments I recieve after I reach 1,000 will reieve a small gift.  So let me know what you think.  I’m waiting with bated breath to hear from you.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. scott kaufmann permalink
    July 15, 2011 10:20 am

    This goes right along with what you have been writing….it is so true. I think back to my childhoood days and they were filled with fun and adventure and yet I still had time for sports and all sorts of activities.

    • July 15, 2011 11:53 pm

      Balance was the key. Our involvement in outside activites was reasonable and not overwhelming.

  2. Laura Kidwell permalink
    July 16, 2011 10:45 am

    Debbie,your blog has helped me so much! I find myself saying yes to my boys when they ask me to do something with them and what fun it is! Your writing has helped me to lay down my desires many times and just play or read or sing to my boys! I have always loved being a mother and your writing has greatly encouraged me in my motherhood!

    • July 16, 2011 11:06 am

      Thanks for the kind words. You have always been an awsome mom and it shows. Your boys are precious! Thanks for being such a good example to me!

  3. July 16, 2011 12:25 pm

    I say amen to what you have written. Time goes by so fast and they are out gone into a world that needs for them to know who they are and not where they have been. Jody

    • July 17, 2011 11:33 pm

      I think we can all forget who we are in the busy daily shuffle. You are absolutely right, the world needs our children. But our children need to know peace, security and who they are in Christ.

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