It’s easy as a homeschooling parent (well, any kind of parent, really), to get the kids involved in way too much. Soccer, gymnastics, girl and boy scouts, 4-H, volunteering, field trips, community involvement, plays and musicals, book clubs, music lessons…the list goes on and on.
There is so much to do, what if we miss out on an opportunity?
It’s hard to image our own parents, or their parents, and how they grew up. How did they know what to do with their lives without exposure to fifteen different kinds of classes and clubs? How did they get along without all those outlets for creativity and ability?
I’m reading a book right now called Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher (author of Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls). In it she says,
“I inhabited the kind of roomy childhood that almost no children today do. In the early 1950’s, in Beaver City, Nebraska, children were blessed with an abundance of time and space. I had some responsibilities, but mostly I was free—free to read all day in our clubhouse, which was the attic above an old car shed; free to ride my bike ou to Beaver Creek; free to climb trees, or just lie in the grass and watch coulds; free to peruse comics and charge vanilla phosphates at the drugstore.”
“I did not have dance or drama lessons, and I was not on the soccer team. But I was stimulated by my Beaver City universe, with its cast of characters as diverse and tragic as any play by Shakespeare. Since the parents didn’t chaufer me anywhere, I met the world unmediated by them. I formed my own relationships and my own opinions. I learned to depend on myself for entertainment and stimulation in a way that television-raised children cannot understand. And I learned conversational skills from a generations who knew how to talk.”
Mary Pipher grew up to be a successful and prolific writer. She is smart, controversial and confident.
What are our kids missing by being involved in so many things? If they don’t do all these classes and programs and whatnot, they might be missing out on that opportunity, but what are they missing out on by going?
No matter what we do, we’re giving up something. Our culture is one of the most time-crunched cultures in the world. We wish we had more time, we wish we could get more done, we wish we could be free of all the have-tos. Perhaps, we don’t have enough time because we’re doing too much?
And, is it surprising that we are the way we are when our culture’s children are growing up taking advantage of all there is to do? What if our kids grew up with as much free time as Mary Pipher did? Did her parents worry that she did “nothing educational” all day? Did they worry that she was wasting her time?
We worry too much about what our kids aren’t doing. We give them too much to do. They need space, and lots of it. Space to do – nothing. Well, what seems like nothing to us. But to them, it’s everything.
Free time is when they can discover themselves and discover the world in their own way.
How much free time do your kids get? How about mom?