Posts Tagged ‘boredom’

The Value of Free Time

Friday, May 13th, 2016

grass rollingFor the first time in my parenting life, my toddler has absolutely no activities to attend, classes to take or socializing to do. This tiny tot has a completely blank schedule, with free time galore. And I’m loving every second of his lack of activities.

When my first baby was born, we filled our days with library storytimes, play dates, zoo trips, swim lessons, art classes, mommy and me symphony, breastfeeding support groups, you name it and we did it. We were BUSY–a set schedule as rigid as could be because they had to have stimulation, socialization and friends. Truth be told, I needed these as much if not more than my kids did. I needed the mommy and me comraderie, the momma tribe of like minded friends who were as sleep deprived, milk stained and hopped up on nursing hormones as I was. I needed to hang out with others who understood if I lost it over a spilt sippy cup or a leaking boob. It was a special and precious time, I made some incredible friends and memories, exploring the world through my baby’s eyes.

Somewhere between baby two and three, my perspective changed on toddler and baby activities. Instead of searching out more things to do (I had plenty already!) I chose to simplify, to reduce our activities and busyness and give this baby the gift of time. Time to be himself, time to play at home, time to just be with mom. He enjoys playing on his own, exploring our back yard and spending endless hours in the parks near our home. We do art at home, we play playdoh, color, build with legos and read. We eat, cook, bake and garden. He enjoys sitting in the sun and watching the birds, and just hanging out. The biggest benefit I see in this free, unstructured gift of time is the abilitiy to self regulate how much he wishes to participate. Studies find that children who participate in more structured activities tend to self regulate less than kids who are left to their own devices. I see now how structured his life will be as he enters preschool and elementary, and if this small gift of freedom is an easy offering I can give him to enjoy these early years in easygoing bliss.

Someday, his days will be filled with busy, but for now, he is happy being free.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom to three little boys in Portland, OR.

Finding Quiet Time

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Finding Quiet TimeStorytime, the zoo, groceries, errands, playdates and friends–ever feel like the busier you are, the crazier life gets? I certainly do, and with my boys in tow I find that they get easily frazzled and upset when rushed from place to place.

Summer is an especially difficult time for finding quiet time, as feel I have to take advantage of the weather, the freedom and the heat to pack in as much fun as possible. But taking a minute to slow it down can be wonderful, too.

I try to balance a few days of activities with a few days of relaxation time to catch our breath, stay home and enjoy our space. For children, having a chance to be bored and have downtime in their comfort zone is extremely beneficial for development and emotional growth. This freedom of not having to be “on” in public, having to get along with other kids and having to constantly seek out mom in a crowd is mental relaxation for the little ones.

Downtime gives kids a chance at self-directed play instead of constant entertainment, a chance to expand their minds and explore their own surroundings at their own pace. Often, downtime also allows babies and toddlers to catch up on much needed deep sleep.

I find myself trying to balance giving my boys a chance at improvement–lessons, storytimes and friends–and time at home. In our culture, it’s difficult to say no, and with social media I find it so easy to feel left out of activities when when I know downtime it’s best for my family. But giving my boys a chance to just laze around, to play in their yard and see what they find just gives me joy and I see a dramatic change in my boys as they relax and release the constant rush that we live in.

By scheduling downtime and relaxation I find I teach my kids that they matter, and that their emotional and spiritual well being is important enough to be penciled in among errands and lessons. I hope you can take a minute to schedule some downtime for your family this summer–some long, lazy weekend days of stories, play and snuggles.

Pia Watzig is a mother of two who lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.