Slow Parenting In A Routined World

August 28, 2014

Slow Parenting


Summer has officially ended.  With the start of school this week, our calendar is quickly filling up with volunteering obligations, after school activities and doctor appointments.  While I enjoyed  our  non-scheduled summer, I must confess experiencing a moment of panic a few days ago.  This happened as I was learning all about the amazing camps my children’s friends attended this summer.  Our children didn’t go to any!  Granted we did travel up and down the New England coast during July, but for the rest of the summer we stayed pretty local and took each day as it came.  We camped out some, hiked some, we ventured into the city some, went swimming some and entertained friends some.  Some days we just stayed home and enjoyed being lazy. Granted, my work allows for a flexible schedule, but l still prefer to keep our days as free of routine as I do during the school year.  I limit sports and other activities to the degree that the kids don’t feel over-scheduled and I am not running/driving around like a harried maniac.  At times, I wonder if my “slow it down” approach to parenting is inhibiting my kids’ experiences, and whether they are able to keep up socially and physically with the children that are involved in more activities.  I guess time will tell.

Managing time and maintaining a feasible routine no matter how many children in one’s family, can be challenging and difficult for any parent.  How much is too much and how little is too little.  I would love to hear how other parents handle the demands of a “routined world”.

This could be the beginning of an interesting dialogue, don’t you think?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna August 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm

I love this post. HMT is now 3.5, and is eligible for a zillion new group activities… I’m working on finding the balance between signing him up for EVERYTHING and NOTHING. Part of me enjoys our “take it as it comes” days, and the other part of me wants him to be immersed in community, and new sports, and new friends. Balance, I suppose, is key. And that he’s only 3.5 and I have years ahead to work it all out :)

Samantha August 29, 2014 at 2:31 am

Debra,this is a conversation that I constantly struggle with. My daughter(6) had a really hard time starting kindergarten so in stopped all extra activities for a while and then at the end of October she started a dance class and then daisies. I keep wondering if I am depriving her of being involved in a team so we agreed that dance was super expensive and she didn’t *LOVE* the experience so instead I am signing her up for basketball and we will see. There are so many things she should try but It seems like there is not enough time to be bored.

Babik August 29, 2014 at 3:13 am

A very timely and important subject, Debra. I hope all your readers who are parents to school age children chime in for this. It seems like my generation raised a much less structured/scheduled bunch. Then again, I only had one child involved in extra curricular activities, so it was relatively easy for this Mom.

Annelies August 29, 2014 at 11:25 am

Don’t look what other kids/parents are doing. You know best what your kids need and what you need. Are your kids unhappy after this summer? I’m pretty sure they are not! There is too much pressure for the camp-going kids.
When my kids tell me during the summer: “I’m bored”. I think YES!
Thats what they need to be, then they are getting creative!
The day is not planned for them but they have to plan their own day!
Will love to talk about this subject during a hike. Missing it.

Ilse August 29, 2014 at 10:22 pm

My parents allowed me and my five siblings to do one exxtra activity each. Offcourse it wouldn’t be possible for them to manage more with this many kids but I never felt ‘deprived’ of anything and it gave me the chance to really focus on what I was doing and get really good at it. (horsebackriding at first and ballet later)

Sarah August 31, 2014 at 2:53 pm

The pendulum of public opinion (in Lamorinda and like areas that I’ve seen) seems towards a less scheduled childhood. The Race to Nowhere movie, The Price of Privledge book and Christine Carter’s lectures (the author and founder of the Greater Good at UC Berkeley) were especially meaningful to me.
I’m constantly challenging myself to evaluate my stance tho… It’s so hard to know what’s “right”…if there is a such thjng in parenting!?!
Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

Kris Patton September 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm

I second Annelies’ comment! I think that “boredom” breeds creativity and when I see my kids building forts in the honeysuckle, playing with Lego’s for hours on the porch, asking to create recipes in the kitchen, just being free to do as they please, i know they are happy. We try to expose them to a lot of things as well, as much as we can, but we spend a lot of time at home just doing what we feel like doing. Our son is 6 and after being at school every day, I know (because he tells me:)) that he needs time when he’s home to run, relax, play with friends and just BE. We have good friends who live across the street and they are very much like us- over the summer our kids would be out from sunup to sundown just playing; they’d run in to grab Jedi outfits or swords and run right back out, and hearing their conversations would just crack me up, they’d talk about everything! I just feel that unstructured time is vital for our kids’ well-being:)

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