I hope that you’ve had a moment to enjoy the other summer related blog posts from LSS this week. I was brainstorming for my post and was thinking of all of the fun kid related summer things that I could write about. My list included safety, learning topics and a wide variety of activities. I landed on something that surprised even me. This summer, please remember to do nothing. In an effort to maximize our children’s opportunities and help them be successful, we fill their days with sports, music, reading, art, fitness, and social activities. We read articles filled with water activities, crafts and “boredom busters.” We plan vacations, park visits and outings to museums. All of these things are important and positive! However, we often neglect the fine art of doing absolutely nothing. The first day of school isn’t far away and I feel myself scrambling to fit in trips to the pool, summer reading lists, camping adventures, time with extended family and projects around the house. My challenge to myself and to you is to soak up summer and save some time to just be. Some of my thoughts are related to those of us with children, but it is important for everyone to have some time to relax so read on! Here’s how we’ll do it:
- Value moments of quiet and resist the urge to fill them with structured activities or chores. Life can be so busy that I often find myself filling my few precious moments of down time with an organization project I’ve been neglecting or a quick trip to the zoo with the kids. I find that my kids love the moments that they can play, read, draw, create a cardboard box house or talk and laugh.
- Schedule time for nothing. It sounds extreme, but if you find yourself filling every moment with the next big activity it may be helpful to block out time on the calendar for you and your kids to just exist for awhile. You may have to say no to some other events and activities but it will be worth it.
- Turn off the screens. It is easy to fill nothing time with a movie, TV show or computer game. Power down and relax. Put your phone in the other room and leave it there for awhile.
- Try not to multi-task. I sometimes find myself playing a board game with my daughters but folding laundry between turns or listening to them play piano but checking email on my phone. Try to be fully present and encourage your child to do the same.
- Remember that it isn’t your job to entertain your child. It is good for kids to learn how to have fun without an adult choosing the activity. Creativity, perseverance, problem solving, social skills, leadership and more can grow when kids have time to Make their own choices.
- Do your kids complain about being bored? Respond with a few general ideas like outdoor play, something in your room, something with paper or something that gets you moving rather than responding with a specific suggestion like painting a picture or jumping rope. This may get your child’s brain started. Another good response is, “I’m thinking of reading a magazine in my lawn chair or going for a short walk. Is there something you’ve been wishing you could find time for?”
Let’s do nothing! We’ll set a good example for our kids and may just enjoy a few moments of relaxation. Share this post on social media to challenge your friends and encourage them to check in on you. I’ll do the same. Heather DeWit, Director of Childcare and Education Services