September 8, 2008

Busy Days

Littlebit will be 2 on Friday.  I won’t get into the cliches about how fast the time has gone.  If you have little ones, you understand.  We’re preparing for a birthday party on Saturday (at our local park, with a cake and friends. Nothing major) and settling into our first full week of fall activities.

Littlebit has Toddler Gym on Mondays
We host a Toddler get together at our house on Tuesdays
On Wednesday we volunteer at the Princesses School
Fridays we have Toddler story time at the library.

The princess is in Soccer on Saturday and wants to join Girl Scouts again this year, meaning we have a pretty full plate.  I struggle, I’m sure like most Moms do, in trying to keep the kids equally engaged while not having them be overscheduled.  In fact, I put fall swimming lessons on hold because I didn’t want to commit too many days per week.  I think kids need to have time to be kids.

In fact, this article from the state of Minnesota talks at length about how overscheduling our kids can lead to under connected families.  In fact, that article touches on the fact that organized sport playing has gone form, on average, 2 hours per week to in excess of five.

I think part of my reluctance has to do with the fact that i’m the lazy type of Mama who likes to be at home as much as possible.    But the rest is, I really do think kids need time to just do a whole lot of nothing.  The Princess has about 15 minutes of homework a night, if she doesn’t drag her feet and, until Daylight Savings Time  ends in a few months, she has a few hours each afternoon to play outside, blow off steam and just be a kid.  There are multiple sources out there that detail how beneficial unstructerd play is to a child’s development.  In 2006 the AAP puyblished a finding that lack of unorganized play was causing children to lag behind in social and emotional development.

But more so than that, my favorite memories from childhood was when my friends and I spent the day inventing our own fun.  Times were a bit different and I’m sure I had a bit more freedom than the Princess has at the same age, but I have very fond memories of rolling out of bed on Saturday mornings and knowing I had nothing to do all day, but explore the local creek, play at the playground and climb a few trees.  We would run home to scarf down a quick lunch before playing out until we were called inside at dark for dinner.

I know as parents we’re quick to try and make sure our kids have the best opportunities.  We want them to excel in sports and be exposed to so many languages and situations, but maybe, as findings are showing, the best things we can do for them is to just let them be kids.

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