It's early Saturday afternoon. So far, you've had art hour at home, stopped by the cafe, played tennis as a family, bought a few plants at the garden store and made lunch. Next up? Your eldest is off to music class and you'll have a dig to plant the new recruits. Skip ahead to another day of the week, or to another house on the street and you may find swim lessons, football practice, art class, ballet, a jaunt to the museum, science club, horseback riding...drama class (as if they need help being dramatic :)
Suddenly, your little one says...'mummy, why can't we just stay home and play Lego?'
Taking this question on board, I've had a deep think. Are our little ones really better off with all the to-ing and fro-ing, or are we as parents just busying our families unnecessarily?
As parents, we encounter a lot of pressure to help our little ones to find something they'll really enjoy and get stuck into while they're young--this way, they'll stay out of trouble as a teen and have a more engaging life--but does it work?
I've recently read a book called 'The Good Childhood' from my favourite academic, Lord Richard Layard (LSE). Reading the pages and taking to heart the points made, I feel that too much to-ing and fro-ing on behalf of our little ones is setting them up for 'excessive individualism'. Layard seems to suggest that the Western trend toward excessive individualism leads to people becoming selfish and is, ultimately, the root of most of the problems our society's facing these days...broken families, exhaustion, stress, overwork, perfectionism...we're all striving for the perfect ideal with each of us at the centre.
So, we'll be saying no to a few more birthday parties, group lessons and the like to make time for, well, a bit of nothing--or smelling the roses, perhaps...dare I prescribe a dose of 'downtime'? I suspect this is the perfect cure for chronic busyness...
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