Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Why Lazy Parents Make Happy Families

This is the title of an article in the Sydney Morning Herald today which says that kids and parents are getting exhausted from the myriad of extracurricular activities that parents feel their kids need to stay healthy, active and educated.

Now I wanted to read this article because I am a lazy parent.  I hate the idea of carting the kids around to call sorts of classes and sports.  I hear my friends with kids talking about the 4 hours they spend driving the kids to and from school every day - there is no way I could do that!  And how their Saturday was spent taking the son to cricket in the morning, the daughter to ballet, pick up the son and take him for his piano class, then pick up the daughter to take her to drama class, and then pick them both up for dinner, and then take them out to their friends' houses for some sort of birthday party etc.  Phew!

So here are the tips from that article:

1. Eat together as a family in the evening. It promotes easy conversation about everyone's day.
2. Limit your child's activities to one or two per week - or whatever gives you the right balance as a family.
3. Check in with yourself to assess if your routine is making you stressed, and to make sure you have enough time to give your children unstructured play.
4. Get creative. Leave a box of random household items in your child's room and change the objects regularly, or leave random objects (an old hockey stick, a tennis racket or a ball) in the garden, or kitchen utensils in the sandpit.
5. Turn off the TV or computer and send the kids outside instead.
6. Don't apply the same rules for all kids - they're often very different.
7. If you let your children do an activity, let them choose what they want to do.
8. Don't be afraid of saying no to your child to one activity, or telling them they need to compromise.
9. Prioritise sleep (especially if you have younger children). All families are happier if the parents are feeling good.
10. Go camping. There'll be no distractions and plenty of time, space and inspiration for some good child's play.

So how will this affect how I bring my kids?  I'm not sure if it will.  I have never felt the need to keep up with the Jones's (I have lots of friends taking their kids to dance class, Gymbaroo, playgroup, swim school), and I like to teach the kids to entertain themselve at home.  They like to go out in the garden and play with pebbles and pull up weeds (and put pebbles in the drain, in the outdoor heater... etc).  I want my kids to walk to school and catch the train to school when they are in high school.  However I will still structure their time a little - set times for meals, wakeup, bedtime.  It can't all be free reign!  And if I had to choose extra curricular activities?  Well, one thing I do love is going to the Australian Museum.  I would love if one of my kids would go with me and we could do things with nature, learning about science, or doing a Dinosnore (sleepover in the museum).  And the zoo too.  I love the zoo.  I think photography would be a great thing for the kids to get into.  I would love to go out with them doing nature photography.

But hey, am I pushing them too much?  They are only toddlers after all!  Should I do more lazy parenting? Haha, I think that article is just trying to say that we shouldn't feel guilty if we are lazy or if we are hyper parents, there are studies to support both.  Just as long as you are happy with what you do.

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