Are We Entertaining Our Kids Too Much?As a working parent, I struggle often with mother’s guilt. I feel that I should be doing more with my daughter, especially in summer when she has more time. My blogging addiction is partially to blame – several times a day I get this, We should be doing that! moment when I see a particularly clever project.
My husband, however, pointed out an interesting trend to me – the more I “lead”, the more dependent and clingy our daughter becomes. We both come from happy and functional families, so we revisited our own childhoods to recollect how we were raised. Both of us remember times spent with our parents learning something new or playing family games or traveling together, but we don’t remember parents doing “projects” with us. I was an only child, and I was happily playing by myself or reading while my Mom cooked, cleaned, read and did other “adult things”. My husband spent a lot of time playing with friends outside or designing and building things on his own. We decided that it’s time to change things a little bit around here.
“Do Nothing” ExperimentOur experiment was really very simple. We decided not to offer our daughter any helpful suggestions on how she should spend her time or offer to do things with her. Her rules and responsibilities remained the same – she could use 30 minutes of computer time for games (more for “productive activities” if she wished) and she was expected to do her other chores as usual.
Her first choice to fill her time was books. No surprises here from our bookworm. She loves to read on the stairs to be closer to the family hub – our dine-in kitchen.
Her second choice was computer time. Again, no surprises. As any other modern child, Smarty loves electronic games. This is why I firmly believe that limits on computer time are needed – there are too many options available nowadays for kids to spend their entire day in the universe created by someone else.
And then… slowly… it happened. Smarty moved to expand her books-computer routine with more creative ideas – researching choosing and care of fish, playing with Lego and Playmobil sets, drawing. It was good to see her getting out of her comfort zone without us dragging or coaxing her out. And I could totally connect to the words of my wise blog friend MaryAnne from Mama Smiles: Joyful Parenting – creativity comes with time, space, and respect.
Where Do We Go From Here?Will we continue this unstructured experiment all summer? Well, I do have a couple of things that I really want to do together in the upcoming weeks. I also want to return to our Saturday cooking classes with Mama. But I do want my child to experience one of special privileges of childhood – a gift of doing nothing and discovering your own desires during this time of full freedom. I want most of her “free” time to be really free and to be her own, and even if I don’t see the “results”, I know that they are actually there.
More Thoughts About Parenting?Follow my Parenting Pinterest board.
2014 After School Link Up Hosts
- The Educators' Spin On It
- Planet Smarty Pants
- Boy Mama Teacher Mama
- Coffee Cups and Crayons
- Mama Smiles
- Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational
- The Measured Mom
- This Reading Mama
- What Do We Do All Day