by Katie Brazerol
The other morning as I was going past the living room, my daughter asked me for a snuggle. I gave her a quick hug and said, “Not now, I have to work.” That afternoon, she asked again. “I can’t sweetie. It’s time to take you to your art class.” While lying in bed that night, I realized I never did have the chance to give her that snuggle. How sad. It seems to be the recurring trend for my family this summer.
Like many parents, I try to fill my children’s summer days with playdates and various activities to combat the usual “I’m bored!” statements. However, I believe I may have fallen into the trap of over-scheduling. We’ve been running from activity to activity with hardly any time to converse, let alone spend time together. We finally had a day with nothing scheduled yesterday, and guess what I heard all day long. Yup! “I’m bored!” I soon realized that being bored isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
My son pulled out his Legos that have been collecting dust all summer, and my daughter wrote an entire book devoted to our family dog. I found that once I told my kids they needed to find something on their own to do, they chose things that expanded their imaginations and challenged them rather than allowing them to zone out. In the evening we made popcorn and played a board game together for some much needed family time.
Children need opportunities for both downtime and for free play. While scheduled activities can provide wonderful opportunities for social and physical development, it’s not a bad idea to schedule nothing once in a while. Turn off the television and video games, and invite your children to think of a game to play on their own. Encourage them to create their own rules and set the pace for their play. If you find your children struggling to come up with ideas on their own, strategically place a few props nearby to stir their imaginations.
Many of our scheduled activities are done in August, so I know my kids will begin to feel bored this month after such an active summer. However, this is a great opportunity for them to expand their inventiveness and independence. It’s also a time for them to slow down and just enjoy a little break before the school year begins again. Perhaps I’ll follow my own advice and take advantage of the time to sit down and finally get some of those much-needed snuggles!