Why is it that we are pushing and polishing our kids beyond human powers? Why are we so overprotective? We all have our own answers depending on the country or even town we live in, depending on the amount of time our kids spend online. But we are trying so hard to make our kids be the best at everything.
All the hopes and dreams we had for our babies, to explore the world on their terms, to discover life and love at their own pace, to accomplish their own goals, to form their own friendships. Instead, we want superheroes. Like all those super characters our kids see on screen.
I’ve recently come to a very tough realisation, for many reasons. Perhaps because we have moved to a smaller town with fewer extra mural activities on offer. Or perhaps because I’ve been spending more and more time with Mishka in nature, observing the true joy when she is busy with simple things.
Yes, it is important to learn, but it is more important to learn for herself who she is, by herself. She has her whole life to become the best, not at everything, at something she really wants to be the best at.
We all fall into that trap. Where we overcompensate and give them what we never had. Whether it is an education, money, fame….But where do we draw the line?
My new philosophy and way of living include more nature, more creative activities and learning while playing. To maintain a balance between performance and enjoying the activity. Most importantly, to spend time with our kids. Nothing compares!
Carl Honore has a few very useful tips for slowing down:
1. Don’t over schedule
Giving our kids time to explore, create and be with us is important for so many reasons. There is no hard and fast rule for over scheduling kids and it will be different for every family dependent on how many children are in the family, where the family lives, the energy levels or parents working status. It is about finding the balance to creating the right amount of down time for kids, along with the opportunities to develop skills and follow passions around sport, academics or music.
2. Eat together
Create a regular family time each day to eat together — dinner is usually the easiest. During this time, create conversation and fun memories together. Ban technology at the table and open up discussion. Children are curious by nature and ask 490 questions each day – so let this be a time for them ask away. Or create a ‘Favorite part of the Day’ ritual at the dinner table where everyone has a chance to speak and say what the best part of the day was. It can be a good way to generate conversation and share in what others have been doing. This is a regular family activity that is easy and the kids will know it happens each day.
3. Create micro-moments of connection
Our kids live in the moment. Rather than setting aside every second Sunday to spend 2 hours together as a family that might be missed or is onerous in some way, connect regularly and often during the day. Give a high five. Pull a funny face. Turn the music on and dance together with your kids. Have conversations in the car. Go for a spontaneous walk together. Kiss your kids on the head as you walk past. Read a book together. Cook a meal together. Tell them you love them many times in a day. You are connecting through micro moments of time that add up to a huge amount of time by the end of the day.
4. Turn off technology
Technology can be a significant time waster. It sucks away precious time that we can spend with our children so have technology free time – both for you and the kids. At the park, put your phone away and play with your kids. Ban it from the dinner table. Limit it to a time when you know it won’t work to be together or do it all together. Find the balance between technology and time spent with your kids.
5. Do family activities together often
Find things you love to do together as a family and do them. If you are an active family, rather than enrolling your child into another extra curricular activity, do a sport together as a family. Maybe it is a family bike riding together. Maybe you like to kayak together, go to the beach together, cook together, garden together, do a puzzle together or eat long lunches together. What ever it is, find something that you all love doing together as a family and do it often.