We went camping this past weekend and it was so refreshing (and painful because I wakeboarded for the first time again in 5 years). But sitting in nature all day also renewed my desire to chat a little about how our family intentionally carves out solo time for our kids to discover and pursue our dreams back at home.
My goal is not to maximize our time being efficient as individuals and as a family, but to minimize our time being occupied.
And my goal as a mother is to give our children independent time to become better versions of themselves.
As our children age, it’s easy to to look at every available activity and sport and music lesson as an opportunity to engage (or rather, occupy) our children.
Unfortunately, this has led to more hours than not spent in adult-supervised, organized time slots for most American children. It’s too easy to sign up for each opportunity months in advance at a discounted early-bird rate, knowing it may enlighten our kids and spearhead their abilities to become the next Beethoven, Picasso or Cristiano Ronaldo.
But we’re doing our kids and therefore our society a complete disservice.
And I get it. It’s not easy at first watching your child strew around saying he’s bored.
But I promise it pays off.
If you actively help your children find time to spend time alone, then before you know it they’ll be asking for this time to devise more plans, draw, think, play and create miraculous things just because they can.
And before we sign up for the next glittery activity, we must also ask ourselves, “Do we want our kids to fit into someone else’s mold, or do we prefer they create their own reality into which they fit and feel like their authentic selves?”
When our children’s days are full with school (homeschooling or conventional), and then rushed off to more adult-directed activities, when do they get time to discover who they’re meant to be?
When we try to fit just one more lesson in because there’s some extra time, we’re in effectively robbing them of critical time to process the feast they’ve already been given.
To children, most experiences they encounter each day are new and therefore, need to be processed before they’re able to move confidently forward.
What part of their day do our kids have approval to daydream?
Even when we as dutiful homeschool moms ensure our children read independently for an hour or two each day, this doesn’t count as the time alone they need to process their thoughts.
I have to admit, I LOVE the idea of having my kids engaged in multiple activities and hobbies not only to encourage them in their God-given paths but to also find time to myself. #justbeinghonest
But we have to stop and discern whether or not we’re really signing our kids up for the kids or for ourselves.
Instead of assigning them another chore, can we cultivate an atmosphere of reflection, stillness and silence?
Can we insist on the importance of spending time alone with one’s thoughts instead of filling that time with things to distract us?
“Even though many great thinkers have championed the intellectual and spiritual benefits of solitude–Lao Tzu, Moses, Nietzsche, Emerson, Woolf – many modern humans seem hell-bent on avoiding it.”*
I would go so far as to say any individual who has contributed to the betterment of humankind spent a considerable amount of time alone to discover, create and let his or her thoughts, and therefore habits and ultimately, their actions, materialize.
It’s not the norm to homeschool. And it’s definitely not the norm to homeschool and have solo time every day.
But I’ve fallen in love with this lifestyle.
I’ve seen mental connections conquered and flourishing creativity that comes from hours upon hours of thinking independently without any interruptions.
Who knows… maybe others will catch on to how large blank spaces in our calendar so we can carve out solo time spurs joy, peace and meaning in our family.
Have you thought about minimizing your child’s time spent in organized activities, social gatherings and just being “out & about?”
Some good points are made in the article, Our Children’s Busyness is Not a Badge of Honor.
* Reference: The Virtues of Isolation