For many of you, school is now in full swing which reminded of how much more hectic my schedule became when my two kids went back to school. Suddenly our less-structured summer time gave way to swimming practice, band practice, after school plays, trips to the mall, and homework.
But it’s important to pay attention to your child at this time to make sure you’re not overwhelming them with too much stimulus and too many activities. Kid’s brains need downtime, and I was reminded of this the other morning.
I was sitting on my deck, enjoying the sunrise and drinking a cup of coffee. I started out by thinking of all the things I needed to get done that day, but was soon distracted by my cat, Dover. He had noticed a bird taking a bath in one of my water basins in the yard and was quietly stalking it. (He’s much slower now, so I don’t worry about him actually being able to catch the bird.)
I ended up spending about fifteen minutes watching the whole scene play out – the bird obliviously playing in the water, Dover crouching low, doing his best tiger imitation. I took great joy in this scene until I realized that what I was supposed to be doing was setting my intention for the day and working on my to-do list.
But then spirit reminded me that I don’t always have to be planning, doing, producing, or accomplishing anything. Sometimes it’s just okay to laugh at a bird and my cat doing their thing. But it also got me thinking that we spend so much of our time worrying about getting to the next activity or making sure we, (and by extension, our children,) are stimulated, engaged, and moving towards a goal that we forget to take a break.
But here’s the thing: sometimes it’s okay to just be. Sometimes what you really need most is to enjoy the sunrise, a cup of coffee and a cat playing tiger with a bird.
So don’t push your kids too hard. Give them some downtime. Encourage them to just go outside and sit, watch, and listen. Allow them to spend time alone in their room, playing with their toys, reading or listening to music. Their evolving brains need just as much downtime as ours do – maybe even more.
Be gentle, be kind, and be understanding. It’s the the best gift you can ever give your kids.