The Gift of Unscheduled Time

It is amazing what happens when we allow our children regular, free and unscheduled time… time to ‘just be’. We live in an over-scheduled era and we have a tendency to over-schedule our children’s lives too… soccer, scouts, art classes, piano lessons, playdates and… the list goes on forever. We mean well, of course. We call it enrichment. But are we exhausting our children? Or even worse… are we taking away an invaluable portion of their childhood (and their childhood growth)  in the name of ‘giving them every opportunity‘? I believe that we are. Slow down, breathe… let them slow down and breathe. Create space and calm for your children instead of incessantly rushing them off to the next scheduled activity.

My children crave the freedom to just be. I can always tell when we’ve done too much in a day. Teddy declares at dinnertime that he ‘hates!’ the dinner I have cooked. He ‘can’t stand’ carrots and chicken is ‘yucky!’. Kitty has an all out breakdown because Teddy splashed a drop of water onto her hair at bath time. All the little things that they can normally cope with become meltdown’s waiting to happen.

Kitty dives into unscheduled time like it’s a cool pool on a hot summer’s day. She knows she needs it and she knows how good being on her own makes her feel. She immediately closes her door to play in her room… or takes her art supplies to the table.

Teddy, on the other hand, finds it difficult at first. He’ll announce, ‘I’m bored!’. He’ll ask if he can go to So-and-So’s house. But, after a few suggestions of what I think he could do, he finds his feet in his freedom and, soon, is lining all of his cars in a row and moving them forward an inch at a time or he is digging a huge hole in the garden or making paper airplanes.

Here are a few photos of what Kitty and Teddy found themselves engrossed in during their unscheduled time over the past couple of days.

What do your children do when they have an hour or so to play, uninterrupted, on their own?

Blessings and magic,

Donni

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Comments

  1. Wonderful post!!! My kids tend to build with blocks, engage in pretend play, read, draw, or go explore outside!

  2. Oh, I can so agree! This “free” time is very important to all of us. My youngest is 8, and she gets very tired if there are too many days in a row with no free time. She is also kind of phlegmatic, so she really loves to lay on the floor or in the sofa with a book, a game, drawing or painting. She loves to paint, and is very artistic. She also loves her homework, and she is a very typical waldorfchild who plays violine, sings and loves all about her school, and her mummy ;) I am so lucky to have her, her older siblings are almost 19 and 20 and already out of the nest.

  3. Unscheduled time is a time of imagination in our house. It depends on the time of day as to what they actually play or do. Yesterday they were marching round the house with colanders on their heads and whisks in their hand, another time they sit and read or they might draw. I love to watch them engaged in this type of play/activity.

  4. Great post Donni! I couldn’t agree more. I feel my best and so do they when we are have had a day full of rhythm and not too much movement away from the home.

  5. I love this post. Free time is vital to all of us. My children usually choose to draw, play outside, play with our dogs, or organize their rooms. I choose to read!

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