“Let’s stay at home for a while,” suggested my children after a month full of fun day trips, camping trips and cousin time. Even though they love all of these activities and seem to be able to go forever, they do need time at home too.
While discussing our August schedule at a family council meeting the children suggested we spend the majority of the month at home doing our own stuff, like reading the books we had on our summer goal lists and playing our musical instruments. Home is the best activity place for children.
Multiple times during this summer I’ve had mothers tell me that their children had begged them to stay home instead of going on outings. One mother said that her children asked if they could please play with their toys because they don’t have much time at home to use them. Yes, home is the best activity place for children.
The Wrong Race
In these modern times children’s lives are full of busy schedules, play dates, appointments, check-off lists, assignments, and extra-curricular activities. It’s no wonder children have such high stress rates. Many parents nowadays think that to decrease stress and increase confidence and security, children need to go to activities daily after school and all summer long. This means children end up in the car far more often during their free time than they spend building forts, riding bicycles and making crafts, which is what the picture of childhood usually looks like in most adult minds.
Being overly scheduled and not having enough time to think and enjoy personal creativity increases a child’s stress and fosters feelings of selfishness and of being unfulfilled. Likewise, when a child doesn’t have time to develop his own thoughts, test his own theories, or read his own books, he can develop disconnectedness with himself, his family and his principles. Busy children usually feel more entitled. Plus, they oftentimes demand entertainment and seek negative attention.
Not having time alone to destress and imagine is also bad for a child’s brain. When a child gets overly tired or stressed due to pressure or being overly scheduled, the child’s brain doesn’t have a time to relax without stimulation. In addition, the chemicals in the brain start passing stress onto other organs in the body as well.
Who would think that too much play is a bad thing? But it is. This mini version of the rat race is not a good upbringing for healthy children. It is the wrong race.
It’s also good to mention that being at home with the family promotes gratitude. Doing less, and sometimes even having less, allows children to recognize the blessings in their lives. Abundance can be a danger because it can make gratitude go into hiding.
Getting Away from the Digital Giant
Many parents have told me they try to keep their children busy going places so that the child won’t play so many video games or be on digital devices so much. The parents say they don’t know any other way to help the children not become addicted because the only thing the children want to do at home is play on devices.
Families don’t need to go away to live in meaningful, connected ways. In fact, the deepest connection time is really best suited for home. When families work on running the home together they’re engaged in a wonderful family project.
To help children stay away from devices, set boundaries for usage limits, establish usage time frames, and regularly take time away from devices so that the family will be uninterrupted.
Do things as a family to help the children be inspired to think of new projects and activities.
Parents Inspire Children by Blocking Out Time for Important Stuff
If there is one responsibility a parent has, it is guiding and teaching the child on how to wisely spend his time. The parents point the child toward what is most important and literally form the priorities for the child. If mom is always thinking about her friend time and dragging the children along, then the children learn the false lesson that socializing with friends is most important. When parents are with friends and at events all the time, then the family can’t fully connect, which becomes damaging for family communications and possibly relationships too.
When parents block out time for family and time for personal projects, then the children get inspired to make personal and family goals. They start deliberately working toward what is most important. This deliberate action based on true priorities will increase childhood confidence as well as happiness.
I have noticed that children who are engaged in their own thinking, creating and studying are less whiny and noticeably more content in life.
Bring Your Children Home
Children need to be at home more. They need the refuge from the storms of life and the security that comes through quality connections. These connections are produced by things such as having a 30-minute talk with Dad or composing a new song for the piano.
Just see what happens when your child has a whole day to herself. Ask her what she is going to do with her day. If you did your parenting job correctly, she will make goals. If she is anything like my children have been, she will do her chores, school work, music, some extra chores, and start a sewing or art project — as well as read most of a book in a day. Why? Just because she has the time.
Children who have increased time at home are more successful in school, with friends, and with their families.
Come learn how to help create more connection and harmony in your family relationships at the Teaching Self-Government Parenting Mastery Retreat.