Overscheduled and stressed. These two words bounce around my head pretty consistently. Imagine me with these two words literally dancing around my head, cartoon-style. This has become my home life. I am willing to bet that it is not all that different than many of yours. Between my children, my husband, the dog, and myself, there is little time to relax. The children have sports practices and games, piano practice and lessons, homework, birthday parties, projects…oh, and did I mention the everyday chores of straightening their rooms, helping prepare lunches, feeding and walking the dog, taking showers…and then there are the things that we, as parents, must do.
I was disappointed in myself (retrospectively) when my son requested a family game of Monopoly on Sunday. As the four of us sat around the table, in between each of my turns, I wrote thank you notes. I was not modeling the type of behavior that I would expect from them. I was also not modeling completing one task at a time, and doing it well. If I could do it again, I would have played with all of my attention and focus, showing my family how important they are to me.
There has been a disconcerting pattern in our house where unstructured playtime is squeezed in between everything else. Even when the more essential chores are finished, I am like a magician – there are always more to be pulled out of the hat! I am making a conscious effort to be more mindful about valuing down time. Numerous studies cite a disturbing trend: as generations of children have less free play time, we are seeing a rise in anxiety and depression.
At my next book club meeting in November (be on the lookout for the date and time), I would like to discuss these very troubling statistics and how we, as parents and teachers, can help alleviate some of the anxiety. First and foremost, let’s promote creative, imaginative play in our children!