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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kids Need Down Time

Enjoying some Downtime at the Granola Catholic House

We are currently on Fall Break at our house. While for some people that may mean trips, for us it means rest and relaxation. We do have plans to entertain our little ones, but for us it is more about family time and and staying close to home. We have just 5 short days off for our Fall Break, that includes the weekend, not really long enough to get on a plane and go somewhere. But that is okay. Why? Sometimes we just need Down Time, time to slow down, draw in and reflect. Fall is a perfect time for that. If you need to recharge your own batteries check out a few ways to recharge your batteries.  As a busy mom, I know I need this down time. It will help me to recharge my batteries before we enter into  one of the busiest times of the year for us. But I know that my kids need to recharge their batteries too with a little R&R but so do the kids. 

Do kids really need down time? Just like us, so many kids are over scheduled with too many activities. Even though we try to limit kid’s activities there comes a time when they look forward to a night off, or just some time to play and be kids.

According to a recent  report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), "free and unstructured play is healthy and- in fact essential- for helping children reach important social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient."
What the study showed is that free, unstructured time helps children de-stress and become more emotionally and mentally healthy. Today, kids spend much of their free time on video games or watching television. Then, they are taxied off to dance, soccer or gymnastics. The problem is, the games, television and coaches are doing most of their thinking for them. Each moment is planned and implemented. And being too busy is stressing them out and causing a rise in childhood and adolescent depression. Children need some time to do “nothing” and let their minds and emotions rest.
So, one of the AAP’s recommendations is that children be given “real toys” like dolls or blocks that encourage them to use their own imaginations in play. No doubt you’ve heard the story of a child opening their presents on Christmas morning, discarding the expensive toy, and playing for an hour with the box. They’re telling us something. I know my kids love to get boxes. So we supply those when we get them.

Children need time to be bored. Part of a child’s learning process requires them to create, engaging in creative play is a learning activity that many children don’t get to have. When children are left to their own devices, they come up with creative games to play. Sometimes having fewer toys is a benefit. When you limit your child’s toys they are forced to be creative with what they have.

Consider this from the book Simplicity Parenting, Think of boredom as a ‘gift.’ … boredom is often the precursor to creativity.  Think of a bridge between ‘doing nothing’ and the sort of deep creative play … The bridge is almost always paved with (the frustration of) boredom. ‘I’m bored.’ Now that is when something interesting usually happens.”


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Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy said...

The AAP has recommendations about "real toys"??? I had no idea.

We are deliberately heading this way--fewer activities, less structured time--in our home this year. But I have heard "I'm bored" a bit more as a result. Thanks for the encouragement!

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

I was stunned too Anne, it we are big believers of unstructured play time. Truth be told that is the way we grew up. Now I do have a tv but it is only over the air channels. When they say "I am bored" they just need some direction. It really means I don't know how to play or where to start.

Pam @ Healthily Ever After said...

I absolutely love your blog and especially like this last post My seventeen year old son spent last Friday night at home alone. His friends either went hunting or the casino. He is only 17 yrs. old and I felt bad that he was home along but after reading your post I realize that it is not all bad.

I too am a health advocate and appreciate your mission.

amy2blessings said...


Jo's Health Corner/ said...

Great post! You're so right. Down time is so important and I have been anti overscheduling children for many years. I wrote a post about the value of free play last year:

Have a great weekend and thanks for linking up to living well blog hop!

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