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The Value of Downtime for Children and Adults

I spent the last two Sundays lazing around the house. I did not spend all of my time justlounging as I read. I did manage to complete a few household responsibilities. Mostly with my daughter, but occasionally with my son and husband, we enjoyed gloriously unstructured and under-scheduled days.

This was not always the case. When my children were little, they were very over scheduled. I am ashamed to admit it, but I made sure that they were exposed to every opportunity I could find and afford. They swam, participated in gymnastics, played soccer, created art, learned to cook, and so on. You see, research in the mid ‘90s indicated that a child’s brain was malleable if given experiences before the age of 5. Not only did new moms like myself hear about this research, people offering programming for children also heard about it too. These early childhood enrichment programs and used this research to create a plethora of options available to to new moms like me.

Twentyish years later, I have three children who seek out downtime. In fact, my very talented artist son, who claims became a jeweler because of one of the early classes I signed him up for, declares one day a week as his “me time.”

I have come to learn that “me time” includes napping, playing video games, creating or watching videos, etc. We live on the outskirts of Chicago, a city with more things to do than one could ever begin to try. Despite the variety of extracurricular entertainment options available to them, my kids choose downtime.

Still, I do not regret exposing my children to the many, busy activities and classes we bustled to and from. After all, it is through this exposure that they have seemed to have found their passions. But now I also recognize just how important unstructured, lazy days can be.  I am so very grateful that my three have taught me this.

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