Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Tip: Kids need downtime too!

I've written a lot this summer about creating and following rules and aspiring to raise children who are self sufficient.  Even so, I feel like we've been battling more, I've been nagging more and honestly, that the kids are just driving me crazy!  

Truth be told, we've all been struggling with the rules; the challenge for the kids, of course, has been following them and the challenge for us as parents has been enforcing them. It's not easy to threaten "no ice cream" or "no TV" when I would love some ice cream myself and relish the peace and quiet our kids occasional TV time provides for me!

A little TV can be some quality downtime - for kids & parents!
Why oh why has this summer been so hard?  I think, perhaps, we are ALL hot and bothered.  And tired.  Really tired.  Why?  Well, let's consider what tomorrow will bring... the triplets (now 3 1/2 years old) will walk all over town -- to the library, the park, a friend's house and home again in ninety degree heat.  Our two older kids, now seven and five, will start their day at 7:00, be hustled out the door at 7:45 and find themselves in a pool for swim team practice at 8:00.  At 8:45, they will be dragged out to quickly change clothes before being delivered to day camp, where it is really big, much anticipated day; they are headed to Rye Playland, for some fun in the hot sweltering sun until they are brought back to camp for 3:00 pickup... which gives them just about an hour for a snack, changing clothes again and piling into the car to get to a swim meet which will last from roughly 5:00-7:30.  I am tired just thinking about it.  And I am 40, not under 10.  And, I will spend the bulk of my day working in air conditioning while they are out in the heat and humidity!

So, why can't they follow the rules?  Why are we so often at our wits end, yelling and nagging?  Perhaps because our kids are exhausted.  And whose fault is that?  Mine.  Mine for succumbing to the barrage of "What are you doing this summer?" questions that started before the snow even melted.  Well, ok, this year we didn't have much snow but, you get the idea! 

Society, it seems, has decided that those hazy, lazy days of summer I recall so clearly and fondly -- days I spent reading books in a tree (for real!), swimming with friends, or simply lazing about -- are for the weak. Or unambitious.  Not true.  Not true at all and, shame on me for not realizing it sooner!

Our local day camp ends in early August.  The whole town is abuzz with making plans, filling days and structuring every moment for our children.  Not me. Not this time.  For August, at least, I'm going to let my kids be kids.  I'm going to try to take a few days off of  work to just be with them.  Not "do", but "be" -- relax, see where the day takes us, be content if it takes us nowhere at all.  This "being" vs. "doing" does not come naturally to me but, I think it's worth a try.  And, while it may or may not improve the general respect for rules around here, I'm pretty sure it will dispense with some of the nagging and yelling and hopefully, ensure that we're all far less hot, bothered and tired when the school year begins once more. 

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