Trading Activities for Play Time

Raising children today is very different from when our parents raised us. Sure we enjoyed signing up for a sports team here and there, trying out a new class, but for the most part we were home a lot playing with our siblings and the kids next door.

Fast forward a generation later and wow, have times changed! It’s wonderful that there is so much more available! There seems to always be special events happening around town, new activities that the local school is now offering, sports teams that just announced a new (often younger) age bracket, and much more! But with all of these possibilities, we seem to also have much fuller schedules.

You may have only ever thought of this as a positive, and I agree that it really does have many benefits! Kids today can try more by the age of 10 than most of us ever did in our entire lives! But is this new busy lifestyle really the best thing for our families?

I believe that play time is incredibly important! However, it often gets traded, or even skipped, for “experiences”. But our kids are young, and they only have one childhood.

Sure I agree that their is a lot that can be learned from playing on a team, or getting involved with your community; but there is also a lot of incredible benefits that come from staying home just a little more!

Below are just a few of these wonderful benefits:

  • Siblings Become Much Closer – When they get to spend a lot of good quality time playing together, they become genuine friends. Of course there will still be sibling arguments from time to time, but your kids might find that they actually LOVE being together!
  • Kids Behave Better – You may have noticed that when there is too much stimulation, kids often times can’t handle it. They might be able to keep it together while out in public, but once they get home they may have to “release” all of those feelings, and that often comes out in poor behavior, tears and/or even anger. By giving them lots of down time to do what they love, get creative, and unwind, they will sleep better and function better the following day.
  • Save Money – Doing so many activities can be expensive. By cutting back a little, you can use that money for more family travel, or something special for the kids.
  • There Is More Excitement – By making extra events and activities a non-daily routine, it makes it more fun and exciting when you do go out, sign up for a class, or try something new. It also takes the pressure away from feeling like they are always having to perform their best, so overall they are more laid back and can really enjoy the moment.
  • Get Your Money’s Worth – If you are like most parents, than you have spent a small fortune on providing for your children. From shelves full of books, bins full of cool toys, cozy bedrooms, and more, you have likely purchased a lot over the years for your kids. By spending time at home, they will get to play with and enjoy it all. And if you allow them the time to do so, you might feel like these investments (like the Hatchimal) were actually worth it.
  • Increase In Imagination and Creativity - There is not much that’s better in life than watching a child get creative while their imagination runs wild! And the more time and space that you allow this to happen, the more you are feeding that part of their brain!
  • Learning Teamwork – To create elaborate forts and villages takes effort and teamwork. Together children learn how to communicate, make decisions, compromise, and come to agreements on what goes where and when. It’s fun to watch when someone has a fantastic idea and takes leadership to execute. Often times the others surprisingly listen to the plans, and then jump in to help. They are learning to respect and appreciate each other and each other’s work.
  • Improving Manners – To go along with the point prior, they are learning how to behave appropriately. I know that you can learn a lot of these skills from being a part of team or league, but there is something to be said for learning to get along well with those that you feel the most comfortable with. Kids are more unlikely to yell at a peer than a sibling, so at home they  get the most practice for patience and perfecting manners.
  • Better Work Ethic – To set up these elaborate play experiences takes work. It takes work to set them up AND to clean them up. And cleaning up is also teaching them about organization – because not much is more frustrating than wanting something specific and not being able to find it later on.
  • Respect – Not only are they learning to respect each other, but they are also learning what it means to respect belongings and to properly take care of them. They may even begin to understand that certain items have sentimental value, and to keep that in mind when entering someone else’s home – their items are to be treated with just as much respect.

I know many of these lessons can be taught in other ways outside of the home, but how wonderful that you have the option to learn all of this without jumping in the car and going somewhere everyday! So to any mom that feels the pressure to always give her kids new experiences – I ask you to please pause. You do not need to stop living your life, but I encourage you to take a moment to assess it. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Is my child really enjoying or benefiting from this activity?
  2. Is it worth the time that we are missing from being at home as a family?
  3. Is my child handling the demands of their schedule both mentally and physically?

Depending on your answers, you may need to reassess your schedule. You too may want to trade in a few activities for some more playtime at home.

Understand that as your children grow up your lives will continue to change, and they will be able to (even want to) take on more and more. Unfortunately, we can’t keep them young and home forever. But whatever you decide to do or not do, just remember that you never want to look back and regret that you did not spend more time together as a family.

For our little family, we have found that trading majority of our activities for play time was actually for the very best.

Expert parenting advice and resources from Adore Them