Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Joyous and Free

What do you think of when you look at this picture? Admittedly, I think "MESS!" Sometimes it's hard to get out things like finger paints or a whole bin of blocks because I'm just not in to the big clean up!

I don't really know that much about anything. With children, I just try to do the right thing and hope for the best. I'm a big kid at heart, so having 4 children and a few daycare kids is fun first. My kids range in age from 12 to 18 months, so it's hard to plan universally appealing activities. Most of our day is spent in what may be categorized as "Free Play" or "Provider Directed Learning."

I see a big push for keeping children busy. Most children are enrolled in pre-school at age 3, Mom's that are home with kids are busy hauling them from the park to the zoo to the playground. At home there is a feeling of guilt on the part of the parent if every moment is not spent reading to, or playing with the child.

Trust me, I know the value of keeping children busy! Six or seven kids can run right over you and stomp on your ashes if you don't keep them busy. But I do see a marked difference in children that are constantly entertained, and those that are encouraged to go out in the yard and play with some sticks.

With all of the available screen time, we are already at risk of raising people who need everything now. Could I gently put forth that we don't need to constantly entertain them, as well? I'm not saying that a parent should ignore their child...entirely...but we could afford to break it to them that they are not the center of the universe.

A sorry side effect of all this scrambling to make Little Susie or Little Johnny happy, is no time for proper exercise. One of the major excuses that I hear among parents is the feeling of guilt when they take an hour away from their children to exercise. I get it. But the time we take "away" from our children, we GIVE to our grand children.

I guess I may have grown up differently than some of my peers. Both of my parents worked full time, we went to daycare and when I got old enough, I walked home from school with my little sister and watched her til my parents got home. We learned to entertain ourselves, and my Mom always made it a point to include us in any shopping trips or days off that she had because she knew time was precious.

I don't remember going to the pool, the zoo, or the playground with her. We were involved in one sport or music activity per year and I don't remember ever missing a sit down supper because of an extracurricular commitment. Mom read to us, helped us learn to ride our bikes, made us mow the lawn, took walks with us, and the best thing in the week was helping her clean the house and then go grocery shopping on Saturday morning.

I still remember how she would act like the shininess of the bathroom fixtures was hurting her eyes and how good I felt to be a part of HER world.

Anyhow - just me talking here. If you want to run around and spend all your time impressing your kids with how many times you can get in and out of the car, go ahead. I'll be at home, under a home made tent of sheets and kitchen chairs with a dogpile of toddlers on my head. Later we plan to ride big wheels through all the ant hills on the sidewalk - double points if you get an ant to stick to your tire.

Maybe I'm lazy, crazy, or all of the above. Maybe I need to get with it and get my 4 year old cracking on some ballet lessons before she passes her prime. Maybe I should grow up.

Maybe not.

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