Sunday, September 5, 2010

Aug30_Outside

Some time ago I was walking in a maze of our corporate campus looking for a conference room for my next meeting and the new marketing campaign flyer caught my eye. It said, Thinkers are great, but only the doers change the world. It made me stop and stare and think, Whoa! Is something wrong with this message? I know that we live in the culture that values setting goals and achieving them. There are so many books written and so many gadgets released that promise us that we can be ever more productive with our time, so we can accomplish more. In all the rush to doing, I personally find it difficult to stop and just… be. I also find it difficult to let my daughter just be. Just the other day she was sitting on the grass outside with sort of concerned expression on her face. I asked her what’s wrong, and she said, Nothing! I am just thinking about something, that’s all! She often has those moments of disappearing, being lost in the world of her own, and I want to encourage those precious moments of doing nothing, just being, just thinking her own thoughts and making up her own stories and being herself. There is only one thing that she needs for it – time to herself. And that’s why we decided not to sign her up for any additional classes this fall. She already spends enough time outside of house – in preschool and on play dates. We didn’t want to fill her remaining time with even more “fixed appointments”, and we positively didn’t want to do any weekend classes. Even though we are a secular family, weekends are sacred to us as the time to hang out together, to go on road trips, and to take it easy. I expect that one day she will have some extra activity, but right now I want to give her a gift of being, not of doing. I want her to be where she loves being best – in her own house with her own family having adventures or quiet time together.

How do you balance being and doing in your family?

14 comments:

Christy said...

This just hit me hard, real hard. I have a problem just being. I have never been good at it. I always feel the need to do something, clean something, create something, etc. R seems to have inherited this from me, but the boys are content to just be. I am really going to be more aware of this. Thanks.

We love our weekends too, which is why I am having a really hard time teaching this class on Saturdays. I don't think I'll do it again after this semester.

My kids are signed up for activities. We try to keep all three kids active in sports because we think they learn so much being part of a team, using their bodies in different ways, and staying healthy. All three kids are playing soccer right now, T is playing football for his school, and R is taking dance. T is playing two sports at the same time and I'm okay with that because he is 13. I wasn't sure about R doing dance and soccer, but she only goes to school 12 hours a week, and she really wanted to do both activities. My greater concern is my ability to do nothing, and my ability to let my children do nothing - I know this is important and I know they need time to just think.

Great post.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I'm all for keeping busy, but time together as a family, when there's no schedule to keep, can be a real blessing.

I don't think Isaac Newton would have made his great discoveries if he hadn't had time alone, to just explore his thoughts, and then persue them, in his own way.

Doing is most productive when there's thinking behind it.

Autumn said...

It's interesting that a company would use so strong a slogan, that might potentially offend people.

Mark and I are natural "be-ers", so it's actually easy for us to strike a balance. We love staying home and not doing much, and we naturally resist most things that take us out of the house and fill up our schedules with too much activity. In the last year, we've gotten better about going out and doing more, signing our family up for more activities. Even then, it takes a lot of mental stamina to keep up with it all, and it's still way less than most people!

I think it's great that you recognize a potential problem in your family and compensate for it. We did the same, just in the other direction. :) I think our children will greatly benefit from having balanced lives.

Debbie said...

I find in our home it tends to be the opposite, we tend to want to stay home and spend the time as a family. I have to make us more aware of the getting out and doing. I suppose too coming from the perspective of a homeschool family I feel I need to work a little harder at finding the extra things for Selena to do, such as dance, things to get her out doing rather then spending all her time at home.

It is tough to balance it all, but I agree with you that it is just as important to take the time to be a thinker as it is a doer. Balance is the key. That is not always an easy thing to do in any aspect of our lives.

Joyful Learner said...

This is a great topic! We try not to overschedule our daughter. So far, we only have an hour and a half of gymnastics and piano scheduled for the week. The rest is flexible and we do whatever interests us (both JC and I). I do get tempted to add more classes as there are so many good ones out there but my husband reminds me to stick to a budget which keeps me grounded. We just tried a trial soccer class thus weekend and he said he was going to teach JC and her friends. I'm okay with that because that means more bonding time for them. But in weekends, I like to go out and experience things and he likes to stay home and relax since he's out of the home the rest of the week. We try to compromise and stay home one day and go out the next. JC and I both need lots of down time and we also crave interaction with others. Too much or too little drives us crazy so in the end, we follow our internal needs to keep a balance. This is an area I have never learned to do (as I tend to do,do,do) but having a child with eczema and allergies have forced me to slow down and smell the roses.

Kim said...

I am a do-er. I never ever sit still. But I insist on several afternoons a week when we are home, with no plans, because Crumpet really seems to need that recharging time. On weekends, we explore as a family. It's very busy, but at least we are together. I find that slogan odd, because without the brain power, where would we be? I think emphasis is being taken off of science and creativity in the US and that is trouble for the future...

Infant Bibliophile said...

Interesting post! Since my son isn't doing preschool, I try to keep him engaged in playgroups and other social activities, but I haven't signed us up for any of the most popular, longterm classes yet. (We did do a couple of beginner soccer series, but they were just a few weeks each). It will be interesting to see how this changes with age, because right now he really doesn't ever just sit and think. If we're not out and about, I have to be doing something with him, and I can only do that for so many hours before I start to go a little crazy.

Aging Mommy said...

There is a growing school of thought that believes filling young children's days with planned, structured activities is not a good thing. Young children need time to play, to explore and to learn as nature intended, by trying things out for themselves. Aside from preschool three short mornings a week my three year old only has one other activity which is swim class once a week - swimming being essential for her to master living where we do. With that and the occasional play date I feel we have enough structured activity in our lives. So I agree with you, less is more.

Ticia said...

I go back and forth on this. I don't tend to get a happy medium, but over-schedule, and then compensate by not doing anything.

At some point I'll find a medium. I have to admit my kids aren't signed up for any classes, but that's more because I haven't seen an interest on their part. We might do a sport of some sort for the boys in the spring.

Anne@LittleSproutBooks said...

I am more of a be-er, and my husband is more of a do-er, so it balances our family pretty nicely. We have B enrolled in 2 mornings of preschool and saturday soccer - no weekday practice and a short season so it's not a major commitment. Since I'm the one home with him most of the day, I try to gauge our activities on his interests/desires. Some days he has a million games to make up at home, and others he wants to know where we're headed, so we make a plan. I'm a firm believer that plans and schedules are not evil, but they're not the key to a happy or smart child.

MaryAnne said...

This has been on my mind a lot lately! This summer has been much busier for us than previous years, and I want to protect the space to just "be". I had a very relaxed early childhood, and I think the space that gave me to think and just "be" was part of what helped me excel academically later on in life...

Valerie @ Frugal Family Fun Blog said...

*****applause*****

Very well said!!!

My Family My Forever said...

I love this post Natalie. I feel strongly that overscheduling children at any age is detrimental to so many aspects of their development. I feel pressured by almost all around me to sign up for this and sign up for that--I don't, but the pressure is there. Even having each child in one activity is busy when you have lots of kids.

I never want to be the soccer mom, or the minivan mom who spends all her afternoons driving kids from one activity to the next. I have no desire for my boys to be sports driven no matter what the age, no desire to spend our evenings on the field or in this or that facility. That is not time together. True time together as a family, the time you can spend at home--that's what matters most to me and to Jamie. This is what we are building and filling most of our and our kids' free time with--just simply enjoying one another and building our relationship as a family. Yes, we enjoy a day trip somewhere fun--anything that is really "together". Society is so demanding, and it is so hard to not let the views of what society thinks is best for your kids warp what is truly most important.

Whew, this is getting long:-), but I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. I think you did the right thing not signing Anna up for extra things this Fall, and she'll be all the better for it. You can't get this time with her back ever....

Nicole {tired, need sleep} said...

I just love this post. It's a great reminder of the value of silence and time to one's self - something we all need and yet hardly ever make a priority. How can we know ourselves if we never spend time with ourselves? These same thoughts have been going through my mind for the past several months - thanks for articulating it all so well!