We’re all so busy these days aren’t we? Trying to balance, family, work and kids can be a nightmare (especially in the summer holidays), but we seem to have passed on our busyness to our kids. And with stats and research saying that more kids than ever are stressed, this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
We’re now three weeks into the six week holidays (how’s that going for you?!) and I’m really trying to get a healthy dose of activities and downtime into the mix. Don’t get me wrong, childcare for many parents means kids have to be at holiday clubs or activities for a lot of the week. I get that. But are we putting too much pressure on ourselves and our kids to do too much during the other times too?
At the start of the holidays, there’s an almost feverish rampage going on with mums asking each other “What have you got on?” or “What are your plans?” The six weeks can seem like a lifetime lying ahead of us. Lots of mums I know panic about trying to fill the calendar with activities and stuff to do to keep the kids amused. Yes of course it’s good to get out and do stuff, but kids need downtime too. They need a chance to have a rest from routine of school, homework, nursery and clubs. Not only that, but downtime can also mean (shock! Horror!) Boredom. Kids need to be left on their own without restrictions or a schedule or a TV or IPad so that they can just PLAY. Sometimes we’re all so guilty of trying to provide entertainment for our kids that we forget that at times our kids need to experience boredom to spark their own creativity.
The other morning I woke up to hear my two girls playing. They were playing in their bedroom at being queens and princesses with ponies in their own magical land. This was such an amazing way for me to wake up because:
1) I wasn’t being batted over the head at 6am like usual by the youngest child
2) They were keeping each other amused rather than whining at me to put the TV on
3) They weren’t tearing each other apart fighting
4) It was brilliant listening to them conjure up their own world and use their imagination – even if it was for just 20 minutes or so
Similarly, yesterday, we had a day at home catching up on stuff and the girls spent all afternoon making Paw Patrol puppets (random I know) for a show. I left them to it for most of the afternoon and only had to intervene on the odd argument. It felt good to let them get on with it and for them to take the lead. They enjoyed it too. Granted, we can’t be doing this every day as we’d all end up raging at each other, but the odd day here and there, is good to let them play and use their imagination.
Is it Us?
I have fond memories from when I was about eight or nine playing for hours outside on the street with my sisters and neighbours, making up our own games within our own empires. We loved it. There seems to be more pressure today to do stuff and spend a fortune doing it. I’ve even felt the pressure recently after listening to other mums talk about their trips to LEGOLAND and mini breaks to Disneyland Paris. Yes, I’m sure my kids would love to do both of these things. But actually I need to remind myself that at their current age (4 and 5), they’re happy enough. They don’t need expensive trips, they’re more than happy putting on a show or playing with the paddling pool and sprinklers in the garden.
I can’t help but wonder if it’s more our issue with trying to provide the constant stream of entertainment? Social media doesn’t help to fuel our anxiety. If we see never ending photos of LInda’s day out to here there and everywhere with her kids, we start to question whether we should be doing the same. I’m sure when children get older, especially into the teenage years, it does become more tricky as they want to experience more things, but for now the summer holidays doesn’t have to be expensive and there should be some definite days or half days for them to provide their own entertainment.
Just as us adults need downtime, so too do our kids. It helps them relax, it’s good for their confidence and it’s essential for their mental health too.
Are you packing your summer full with activities or taking it easy? I’d love to know!