Activity Detox: Raising Stress Free Kids

The world has changed so much since I was a kid.  I remember piling into the car, and like so many other families, heading to the drive-in movies.  It was a big deal back in the day.  Everyone hung out together and no one was running off to soccer games or ballet lessons.

When my daughters were small, we lived on a ranch and the days were filled with little activity.  I did my best to keep life simple and let them enjoy playing outside and just be kids.  I admit, I was selfish.  I wanted to spend as much time with them as I could before they went off to school.

Today families are on-the-go 24/7.  It’s no wonder that everyone is totally stressed out! Every time I call a friend, she is out of breath and either dropping off one child, or pick up another.  I feel exhausted after just a minute or two with her on the phone.

Stress is Contagious

Stressed out parents create stressed out kids, so it’s our responsibility to lead by example.  If we can’t make the time to practice the sweetness of doing nothing, then our children will grow up modeling after our behavior, turning into stressed out parents themselves.

But how in God’s name do we slow down when there is so much to do and so little time to get it done? Well, it’s not rocket science people: JUST STOP DOING SO MUCH! Simple, right?

What Really Matters

Of course we have to work to pay the bills, but why does the time in between have to be filled with so many activities?  I would bet you a million bucks (which I don’t have) that if you ask your children which they remember more in twenty years, piano lessons or watching cartoons and eating cheerios out of the box with you, they’d pick the latter.

If we are stressed out parents stressing out our children, it’s our job to rewrite the script by slowing down and cutting back on some of the activities in our family’s life.

Slowing Down 101

I know that you are probably swearing at me under your breath right now, because you don’t think I could possibly understand. But don’t shoot the messenger... I do get it!  I have kids and I am a single parent, yet I get up every day and make a conscious choice not to put too much on my family’s plate— I refuse to live like a hamster on an exercise wheel!

How is this possible, you’re wondering?  Well, here is a little exercise I want you to try: First, make a list (I am big on lists) of all of the activities that your family can live without. Cut those activities in half. For an entire month (yes, all 30 days), stop running your kids all over the free world and slowwww… dowwwwn

Streamline your life. Come home from work and have certain nights where nothing is planned except to hang out together as a family.  It will be strange at first because everyone is used to a non-stop, fast pace, but you will be amazed at how quickly everyone adjusts to the slowness.

Make spending time with your children the most important activity in your life, because before you know it, they will be in middle school and may not want to have anything to do with you.

You can overcomplicate this and find a million excuses why you can’t possibly cut any activities from your children’s lives. Or you can take charge of your life so the next time a friend calls and you answer breathlessly, it’s not because you are stressed out speeding to your kid’s swim class— it’s because you’re at home having a dance party with them.

How often do you stop and smell the roses? Got any tips for living a slow, stress-free life? 

Tags : simplicity parenting   mindful parenting   extracurricular activities   

Bridgit Sussman
Just curious to many days a week do you all have afterschool activities planned?