Let Kids Do Nothing

It’s Friday.  The day the world rejoices because their work week is over.  It’s the only day of the school week that my kids don’t mind getting up.  Weekends are full of possibility and free time.  To me, the beauty of the weekend is sleeping in, and enjoying my time at home.  It’s also a chance to do laundry (just enough to get through a couple of days), clean the house (just enough to avoid a ‘condemned’ notice from the health department), and perhaps cook a meal that doesn’t involve french fries and the microwave.   Mostly, I just enjoy being home.  I am a homebody.  I like going out sometimes, but my home is my oasis from the craziness of the world.  I don’t need my weekends full of social events and gatherings.  In fact, being out and about all weekend would stress me out.

Unfortunately, my kids disagree.  Right after the school buses come rolling by to drop off my little darlings, the pestering starts.  “What are we doing this weekend?”  “I’m bored.”  “How can you stand being home and not doing anything?”  “Can we do something?”  Granted, it’s fun for kids to have places to go and things to do on the weekend.  And we DO do things.  They spend a lot of time with their friends, and we occasionally go out to eat, or to a kid-friendly entertainment spot.  But the incessant requests for entertainment from Friday night to Sunday night is a little much.

I tell them all the time that when I was a kid, we didn’t spend all weekend going to places to be entertained.  Once in a while we would do things like that, but for my generation, weekends were spent with friends from the neighborhood.  Our days were filled with riding bikes, going to the park, and hanging out at each other’s houses.  It was the 70s and an awesome time to be a kid.  Even when we were home, we did things like hang out in our rooms, playing by ourselves, drawing, or reading.  We even went outside alone, or with siblings, to find things to do.  I know it isn’t the 70s any more and times have changed.  But when did it become the norm for people to spend weekends, school breaks and summer vacations endlessly entertaining their kids?

On a very frequent basis,  my kids tell me about all the fun things their friends are going to do and the places they go with their parents.  I see it myself on facebook at the end of almost every weekend.  Many parents post multiple pictures of their kids out at restaurants, the skating rink, the trampoline park, the theater, hotels, rock climbing, bowling, the movies, etc…and these are people who do several of these things EVERY weekend. When are the kids getting time to just hang out and BE?

When did we turn into a society that makes entertaining our kids a priority every weekend?  How will these kids learn to cope with quiet and solitude? How will they learn to cope with being bored, and finding something to do by themselves?  How will they learn to be their own friend?  The need that so many kids have for constant stimulation makes me sad.  Having down time and finding creative ways to entertain themselves now, will be of benefit to them as they get older.

As they say, “to each his own.”  They also say, “everything in moderation.”  In my opinion, it’s important for everyone…kids and adults…to learn to stop and smell the roses.  Go out to that restaurant, or to a party, but save just a little bit of time for doing nothing.  Doing nothing sparks creativity, and gets the brain thinking.  It leaves time for imagination to be used.  It lets the brain rest.  The world still needs creativity, imagination and new ideas.  Doing nothing leaves time for those things.  It really is okay to do nothing.

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