Ever wonder what happened to the family dinner hour? Or for that matter the family dinner half hour? Monday is Soccer Practice, Tuesday is Piano lesson, Wednesday is Church Activities, Thursday is a Soccer Game, and Friday is some other activity to attend. A number of other events will fill up the weekend. Moms often feel like professional schedulers and taxi drivers and become increasingly irritable as they go from one activity to the next. Maybe you and your children are over scheduled. This information is from an article by Kimberly Chastain, a family therapist.
In the past few years, we have seen a marked increase in children with anxiety and depression. Children are now saying they are ‘stressed out’. Children no longer seem to have time just to “goof off” and just be kids – “goof off time” is not on the schedule.
Parents need to guard their children and themselves to protect children’s unscheduled time to be children. Children need time to create their own games and also to learn to entertain themselves. Children often want us to entertain them or the television instead of figuring out how to play by themselves. My guess is guess that some of your fondest memories as a child were playing out in the backyard with some friends and really doing nothing in particular, just laughing, playing, talking and just ‘hanging out’.
Here are ten suggestions to keep your family from being over scheduled:
1. Each child in the family has one or two outside activities (i.e. sports, music lessons) besides church activities.
2. If your child wants to add an activity they may consider giving up a current activity in exchange for the new one.
3. Set family nights on your calendar. Order a pizza and play board games. No one can schedule anything on family night.
4. Help your child learn to say “No” and help set appropriate limits on their activities away from home.
5. Do not say “Yes” to any new activity for yourself or child till you have weighed the costs (i.e. financial, emotional, loss of family time, etc.).
6. Assess your irritability quotient. Do you find yourself frequently saying, “Hurry up, we are going to be late?” How can you slow down? What can you give up?
7. Resolve to eat dinner together as a family at least 3 times a week, even if it is just sandwiches before you head out to a game or lesson.
8. Schedule “goof-off” time for your family and children. Give your child down time to explore a hobby or play outside.
9. Set priorities for your family. How many hours a week do you want to be together as a family?
10. Take time as a family to enjoy God’s creation away from home. Examples: Go to a park, go for a bike ride, go hiking, etc.
As parents you are modeling for your children how to handle stress and how to balance our time. What lessons are we teaching our children? The Bible tells us in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God…” In our hurried society, we are teaching children to “Be harried and know that I am God.” Make the time to slow down and enjoy the gift of your children.