With the school year now upon us, I find myself increasingly busy. Gone are the lazy days of summer. We’re now up and out of the house early. Then we are hurriedly rushing home from preschool to have lunch and a nap, and go out again to get to the next activity on our list.
While I do enjoy having things to do and getting out of the house I have to wonder, how many activities is too many for my children?
We live in an ever changing, fast-paced world. Between taking care of our kids, going to work and household responsibilities, as adults we literally don’t have time to slow down. But it seems as if some children are almost as busy as their parents. Do our children’s lives need to follow the same path?
I’m no different. When my girls show interest in something I feel compelled to sign them up and watch them enjoy themselves. I think it’s only natural that as parents we want to allow our children to try different things, to see what they like and what they don’t like.
And who wouldn’t sign up their kids for extracurricular activities when they have so many benefits?!
- They promote teamwork and teach children how to work together.
- They teach children how to play together and how to behave in social settings.
- They teach discipline and the importance of listening skills and paying attention.
- They help create friendships, sometimes lifelong friendships.
- They allow children to try new and different things.
- And most importantly, they’re fun!
But what ever happened to just being a kid? What ever happened to just playing? To letting our children use their imaginations and learn through play?
Maybe, as adults, cabin fever sets in too easily. Maybe we just want out of the house, to have some social interaction ourselves and to have a break from cleaning and laundry and cooking. And who can blame us? But I don’t think that really happens for children.
They’re perfectly happy at home, to play with their dolls, to drive their trucks around the house, to draw and to color, to mold play-doh and paint pictures, to dress up and play pretend, to sit and flip through books, to go for walks and to play at the park. They don’t need to be shuffled around from one activity to another to have fun and to learn. They don’t need to be as busy and on-the-go as we are.
Maybe instead of getting out of the house to get away from our responsibilities as adults, we should just learn to ignore them and get down on the floor to play with our kids too.
As with so many things, our children need to have balance, a balance between activities outside of the home and playing at home. Because neither one is more important than the other. Our children need the benefits of activities, but we also need to give them the opportunity to just be who they are and play in that role.
The power of play is amazing, special and important. And it’s our job as parents to ensure that we let our children experience that, no matter how fun extracurricular activities may be.
Let’s watch our children use their imagination and allow them to embrace their natural need to play.
Dawnene blogs about her life as a stay at home mom of two young girls in the hopes of encouraging and helping other moms through the crazy world of motherhood. Visit her blog and nod along as she explores the imperfect reality of being a parent.
Photos in this article by Amber Leigh Photography