How much is enough? I’m sure we’ve grappled with our share over-contemplation, guilt and acceptance. To enrich or to overschedule? Can there be a middle ground? That is the question. Finding that balance isn’t as always as simple as we would like it to be.
Naturally, as parents our intention is to expose, engage and provide our children opportunities and outlets. Some of which we may or may not have had. We want the best for them. But is it achievable without all the added stress that comes with what family psychiatrist, Jane Taylor, called a “hyperschedule” and her insistence that “quality time triumphs any organized activity?”
Perhaps, the issue may not be so much the what, but more the how much, without moderation getting lost in the equation. Back in the early 80’s Psychologist, David Elkind published, The Hurried Child and pointed to the very issues we are still faced with today. How much is too much? And what is really being sacrificed? Stress, health, family time, creativity?
Other Psychologists such as Dr. Fran Walfish, author of Self-Aware Parents: Resolving Conflict & Building a Better Bond with Your Child also claims that all kids want is down time. Of all the many opinions about balanced parenting, Paula Bloom says it best, that “parents need to teach their kids to balance human doing with human being.” Profound.
Being has the potential to teach kids how to focus, tune in, critically think, problem solve, and even, yes, experience boredom! How two harmless words, like “I’m bored” can have some parents burdened with guilt and questioning our parenting aptitude.
It turns out that from occasional boredom and stillness comes a level of clarity and presence. What comes from it is like the sprout from a nutshell, once hidden in the darkness of the earth. The spark that inspiration and creativity are made of.
So the child has become self-directed and finds a way to transmute the temporal experience. Not so bad after all. They have independently created an experience for themselves that may require less parental involvement, making room for less stress and more constructive learning.
CNN recently published an article that touches on a concept that may very well be a refined way to approach parenting, “simplicity parenting, a way of life that promotes play and creativity and honors a kids’ needs and natural rhythms…“ that can be applied within the context of moderated scheduled activities.
After all, parents need down time too. Where do you draw the line between enrichment and overscheduling? What’s your happy medium? We’d love to hear your story.
Here are a few good reads: