Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not turn from it.

– Proverbs 22:6

Please excuse me for a moment as I hop on my little soap box and share that I think kids are just way too overscheduled these days.  My gut told me this a while ago, however, recently that gut feeling was confirmed by Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman in their book Nurture Shock.  A friend of mine told me about this read and if you are ever around children, you must RUN to your nearest bookseller and purchase it right away.  It’s not just us, eitiher – the book was just selected as Books for Better Life’s “Best Parenting/Childcare Book of 2010.”  In a nutshell, they state that children are in far too many activities and are stressed and tired.  A separate chapter on fatique is included and I personally believe this is simply a  byproduct of being overscheduled – children are tired and cannot adequately process new information because they are just in too much stuff.  They’re no longer allowed to just be kids and play.

I’ve heard the argument about getting our children in a lesson every night and scheduling every single little minute so they have no time to just “be” but I’m not buying it.  Many say that they disagree with scheduling their children so much but they also don’t want them to be behind the other children whose parents are doing the same thing they are.  We start the competition early but does the best man always win?  I think not.

Instead we create a group of children who are frustrated.  Depressed.  Envious.  It’s not me, folks – research is pointing to this as well.

What I keep coming back to is the fact that what I want for my children, what I think is critical for them to know, aren’t necessarily taught in a “lesson every night”.  Sure, activities are fun and each of my children partake in ONE AT A TIME.  But what I really want them to know is kindness.  Compassion.  Love.  Encouragement of the underdog.  Respect.  Love of nature.  Taking care of the planet God gave them. They can practice these traits everywhere – yes, in extracurriculars but get in too many of those and you just don’t even see the good anymore.  You just know you are tired and need some time to unwind.

How do we feel, as adults, when we are overscheduled? I am stressed.  Edgy.  Overwhelmed.  Tired.  I just want to go up into my bedroom until it all passes.

We went on a nature walk this morning.  Susannah was in her sparkly cheerleader outfit and Solomon well…he wanted to stay in his dinosaur jammies so I let him.  When you have time to be, just really be, here’s what you will find:

Spring daffodils that bloom for such a short time

A court filled with so many trucks a young boy can’t stand the excitement…

Dandelions ready for a bouquet for mommy

Heck, even a sewer drain is fascinating.  Eww…

But exactly my point – how will we ever know what our children like, what they don’t like, if we never just “be” with them in unstructured time?  When else would Solomon be able to stop and look at a sewer drain?  What dendrites are firing as he rubs his finger against the writing, as he feels the rust?

I want to train my children to be still.  To not always be in a hurry.  To pick dandelions.  To look at trucks.  Even to touch the tops of sewer drains.

Because if not now, when?

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