Childhood has become outrageously complicated. I'm blown away when I talk to friends and family about the commitments in the lives of most children. Not only is there full-day school, there's a myriad of other activities taking up the rest of the waking hours. There is dance class, art lessons, Spanish class, riding lessons, training for hockey, swimming lessons, extra homework help at a learning center three times a week, chess club, church events, and the list goes on.
So many of the families I know are too busy running all over their city to even have time to spend one quiet evening together with their children. Weekends are jam-packed too with kids going one direction and parents going another.
I've often wondered when these children get to just be children.
The simple days of creating a tree house or a make-shift tent out of sheets are gone for so many youth. With children spending so much time in school and scheduled activities and most spending another 3-4 hours every day consuming media – what's left?
As parents, it is up to us how we raise our children. We choose. We choose what their days look like. There are so many vitally important reasons why children need down time. Reasons why they need hours upon hours to just be – no coaching, no lessons, no homework, no performing. Time with family. Time to enjoy nature. Time to explore and discover and learn. Time to play.
“They must be let alone, left to themselves a great deal, to take in what they can of the beauty of earth and heav
ens.” -Charlotte Mason
ens.” -Charlotte Mason
“If animals play, this is because play is useful in the struggle for survival; because play practices and so perfects the skills needed in adult life” -Susanna Miller
When children spend time playing outdoors, they develop their own deep love for God's creation. They grow leaps and bounds in creativity skills and the ability to use their imagination. They learn how to be content with the still, small, quiet things. They see the value of alone time as well as working and playing with others in a less structured environment. They develop independence at their own pace and in a safe environment.
This Summer, why not take a whole lot of time to allow children to simply be children. No over-scheduling. No crazy running here and there. Just a good book, an ice cream cone and a blanket under the tree. A family bike ride to the pond.
Discover something small and new and beautiful. Find more than a few moments to take in God's beauty. Let us watch with joy and adoration as our children are inspired to drink up all this amazing world has to offer. Every glorious gift waiting to be found.
Those gifts we only ever find during those blessed Simple Days!