I had a great interview this week with Debbie Mandel, author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman’s 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life. I have so many post ideas based on just this half an hour chat with Ms. Mandel, posts I believe will really make you stop and think about your life, your stress level, and how this all affects your children.
Today I wanted to start with one topic that came up during our conversation: Overscheduling our kids.
You know (or maybe you are!) the family. They wake at dawn, are gone all day doing a variety of activities, and come home after dark only to drop into bed.
The children are involved in everything: band, chorus, soccer, gymnastics, Cub Scouts, and extra-curricular activities in school. We as parents are busy doing everything: on the phone while cleaning the house while folding laundry and trying to paint our nails.
We go, go and go so more.
We are unable to just ‘be.’
Says Debbie of this type of schedule, ” . . .(we are) encouraging a form of ADD, we are going to live in ADD, we don’t know how to be quiet. It is detrimental,” she says, “because everyone is depending on this adrenaline surge of stimulation.”
If dinner generally consists of fast food, your dinner table is the holder of items and not a place to meet up with the other members of your family, and if you can’t remember the last time you sat down and relaxed and reflected on life-or the last time your children did-then it is time to make some changes.
Ms. Mandel and I were discussing this idea of overscheduling our kids as we talked about a previous post I wrote about the idea that we must constantly entertain our children, or give them something to do. Then she said something that really hit home. She said this: “Children need quiet time. They need to be creative.”
The problem? We are overloaded, says Mandel. “As women we are overloaded, and children are overloaded, and as a result everything gets out of balance.”
We need to have more natural play, she insists.
“We need to reset natural rhythms.”
Think of how important it is to take time to reflect about your life. If you don’t stop and think about your life, if you don’t stop doing stuff long enough to give yourself some time for creativity, such as journaling or scrapbooking or photography, then you never will truly connect with yourself.
As we know, our kids learn by our example. They learn how to treat others by the way we treat them and by the way they see us treat others.
Their eating habits and their exercise routines are learned by what they see us do, and how much time and effort we put into teaching them these things.
It is the same for quiet time. If we don’t give them this quiet time, and let them explore, they will never learn how to do this. Then how will they be as adults? How will they ever know what they truly like, and how to be quiet, and how to reflect, if we don’t show them?