Extracurricular activities. What emotions do those two words evoke? If stress, chaos or feelings of overwhelm were felt, then that might be a sign that you do not have enough downtime. It's very common in our society. We have basically been led to believe that if our child is not signed up for some sort of stem class, a sport, a language and well....fill in the blank, we have somehow failed in our role as a parent. The difficult part is that these things are not bad for your child, but we need to find a balance that allows for downtime. Here's the kicker, when I say downtime, I mean good old-fashioned downtime. Limit screen time and boost time for the brain to wander, explore nature, play with friends, do a puzzle, read, draw, journal or just sit outside and stare at the stars for awhile.
As a homeschool parent and teacher, I have experienced this first hand. We recently moved to an area that has just about every wonderful extra curricular activity imaginable ready and waiting for your homeschooler! It's like a candy store for the homeschool parent! We were quickly registered for 3D printing, coding classes, gourmet cooking classes, storytelling classes, law classes. You name it, we probably enrolled in it! To top it off, my daughter still had over 20 hours of gymnastics training, core schoolwork and I was also teaching classes online and in person as well! Sure, we managed, but I had a moment. I realized that this was not what I wanted my daughter to think normal was. This was not what I wanted her to feel like she needed to do as a parent. This is the exactly the opposite of what I teach! We were getting up super early, packing bags and food, running around through busy traffic, going from class to training, only to arrive home beat and exhausted with more schoolwork to tackle and dinner to make. By the time my husband got home, I had nothing left. At that realization, I made a commitment to downtime for my daughter's sake. She is a competitive gymnast and I knew we would keep that and we would continue to homeschool. I streamlined the curriculum and cut out every other extra curricular for 7th grade. Our stress levels dropped and our downtime increased. Now, you can often find my daughter and I playing cards in the dining room after dinner. We love this and it gets her ready for summer card time with her great-grandma and there is not much better downtime than that!
Am I saying that you must drop every sport or activity? Certainly not! Activity is vital for the mental and physical well-being of a child! Just take a moment and ask yourself if your schedule is truly what is best for your family and whether it allows for downtime and balance in your life? If not, consider moving some things around or evening taking something off your plate. The ultimate goal is to show your child that you value downtime, they are watching and learning! Added downtime will not only set a great example for your child, but it will make you happier as well!
IDEAS FOR YOUR NEWLY FOUND DOWNTIME:
-Have a hot tea or hot chocolate over a board game or puzzle
-Play cards together
-Stare at the stars, the mountains or the ocean