Finding the Balance
Our children lead incredibly busy lives, with school commitments, after-school activities and outside school activities -- the choices almost endless. Whilst these activities are incredibly valuable and enhance our children's lives, they can also make for very busy lives not only for the children but for families as well. Parents often juggle work commitments, supporting their children at activities and arranging pick ups and drop offs. Running around from one thing to another can often increase the stress and tension in families.
As adults, we often go out of our way to avoid letting our children be "bored," ensuring every minute of their lives is scheduled with productive activities. But why are we often trying desperately to avoid boredom for ourselves and our children? Perhaps it is not such a bad thing and is not something that we should shun, as being bored also has some great learning potential, not only for our children but for ourselves as well. It can create the time and space to think, explore and create. Children learn many great life skills when they have to make decisions about using their time -- reaching out to friends, using their imagination, playing in the park, taking things apart and playing. Taking time out to relax without outside stimulation is also equally important as it helps us to regulate our stress and workloads, something that we often overlook and neglect, but which is incredibly important as our children enter college and the workforce.
Learning to take time out is a critical skill that children will carry with them throughout their lives. Often over-scheduling may keep children from discovering what really interests them and finding their real passions. If we continually spend time filling up their lives with activities, they may never learn to take responsibility for themselves. In the quest to provide our children with great opportunities, sometimes we forget to stop and ask them what they really want to do. Empowering children to have some ownership over their "spare" time helps them to learn to manage their time, try new things, relax and play.
In our International school environment, many of our students are also learning a second, third or fourth language, which brings wonderful opportunities. However, when students are learning another language and working in an academic environment, it is not unusual for them to feel tired and sometimes exhausted at the end of the day. It is important for them to have time to rest, reflect and digest their learning. As with everything, it's about finding the balance, stepping off the treadmill for a while and thinking about the balance not only in children's lives but in our own as well. Sometimes a little boredom can be the perfect activity for a little peace of mind.
Here are a few resources on this subject that you may find interesting.