I am a strong supporter of down time for children. As parents, we want to give our children the opportunity to participate in various, interesting activities, and as such, kids today live a highly organized and scheduled life. Believe me, I’ve lived this. At one point, my child had at least one extracurricular activity daily, from Monday to Saturday! And there’s nothing wrong with filling our children’s time with healthy activities, as long as they also have the down time opportunities to unwind and relax.
Stress, overwhelm, and burnout is all too common for children and adults alike. Relaxation is a key ingredient for maintaining good mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health; so it’s an important life skill to teach our children.
A Case Study.
I believe “play” is the child’s equivalent to “work”, so I began encouraging down time for my son when he was only a few months old. I took down his colorful mobiles, removed his crib toys, turned on the revolving fan to drown out other sounds, and allowed him to just lay there for about 10-15 minutes while I folded laundry across the room. During this time, he would look around, explore his fingers & toes, and hear himself babble & coo – basically just relaxing & hanging out. I’m quite certain this routine contributed in making a happy, relaxed, and very focused baby! My son is now 13 and still makes time to recharge and get centered!
Let Children Daydream.
Give kids the chance to let their mind wander. Allow their brain some free time from worries & expectations of the day, as well as from interruptions from video games, TV & other electronic distractions. Encourage kids to let their mind float freely through random thoughts, as well as to quiet their mind, for a positive, productive daydreaming.
Let Children Have Time Alone.
This is crucial for the development of independence. Alone time empowers kids to truly enjoy being creative in the moment as well as encourage self-sufficiency. Kids who learn this are able to face time on their own without feeling sadness or panic. For younger kids, alone time is when they are able to relax or entertain themselves without help from parents & caregivers.
Let Children Free Play.
Games with few rules and ones initiated by children helps kids unwind. Of course, adult guidance and supervision may be necessary depending on age.
Let Children Just Flow.
This is the mental state we find ourselves in when we’re so absorbed in an activity that we don’t notice how much time has passed. Encourage your child to find activities they enjoy & allow them to get lost in it. This is an excellent method to relieving stress & anxiety.
Let Children Unwind Around Bedtime.
Practice a bedtime routine to help calm your child down. You can share this time with them by reading, telling stories, and even drawing & coloring. Unwinding before bed also helps kids get better sleep & rest.
Teach By Example.
Children learn best by imitating you. Try to keep your schedules under control and make time to relax & unwind. Not only will this be a good example for your kids, but good for your own sanity!