Kids spell love T-I-M-E. Do you truly believe that? If so, why do you buy them so much stuff and enroll them in so many activities? Those are often the polar opposite of giving your kids time. Those things take time away from children. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with buying things for our children or enrolling them in lots of fun activites. But there does come a point when it is more damaging than beneficial. So what do kids really need? They need you.
How Stuff Steals Time
Do you have a whole room in your house designated for toys? Do your children have shelves of toys in their bedrooms? Do you need to shut the door to those rooms to avoid the stress of the clean-up process? How much time per day do you spend tidying toys? (Or hounding your children to tidy them.) I get it. I’ve been there. Some days I feel like I still am there. Then we have a “tidy time” and I realize there really wasn’t that much, it just happened to all be at my feet. (Do toys migrate to the kitchen in your house too?) I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “everything in it’s place,” but I’d like to challenge that thought and say that just because an item has a place, doesn’t mean you should keep it. I will estimate that approximately 100% of people reading this have too many toys (I’m reading it as I write so that applies to me too). We are continually looking for ways to organize toys and we fight with our kids to get them to clean the toys up and even the kids get overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin their play to enjoy those toys. I mentioned Little House on the Prairie when I wrote about What a Baby Really Needs and I’ll mention it again: Laura, Mary, and Carrie were happy with one doll. When we spend more time dealing with toys than we do connecting with our kids, something needs to change. If you find that you are experiencing stress, frustration, or other negative emotions, it’s time to do some culling of the stuff. Because, seriously, do your kids even play with each and every one of those 50 matchbox cars?
How Busy Schedules Steal Time
Busyness: Noun 1. the quality or condition of being busy. 2.lively but meaningless activity. Getting rid of stuff is easy. At least, it is easier for most people than getting rid of busyness. We are told that our kids should be able to experience all the fun things that other kids do and that team sports are good for them and that every child must learn how to play a musical instrument and learn a second language and attend church youth group and visit friends every week and go to the zoo monthly and and… much more. I’m going to throw your world upside down now with this truth: they don’t. So what do kids really need? I am going to sound a little bit like a broken record here: all your kids need is you (and food, clothing, and shelter but I hope that goes without saying). The more time they spend in after school activities and various lessons outside the home, the less your children get of you. YOU are the most influential person in their life. Or at least you should be. But how can you be that when they are continually under the influence of others? Shelia, from To Love, Honor, and Vacuum, breaks it down in Time, Opportunity Cost, and Kids and says: “So in a family with no play dates, no working mother, very little technology addiction, and no lessons only gets 19 hours a week of quality time when people aren’t doing housework, aren’t in a meeting, aren’t taking a shower, and aren’t making dinner.” and “Schools have 40 hours, you have 19. How are you going to spend those 19?” When you and your kids spend time together, you build relationships. Those relationships will be invaluable as your children grow and start to make life-altering decisions. Who do you want your children to build those primary relationships with, you or their peers? The next time you feel like buying your child something or signing them up for a new activity, stop. Make the decision to spend that time with them instead. To get you started, here’s a great list of outdoor activities to enjoy with your children. Make memories with your child. They will appreciate those memories more than you can imagine. And here’s a thought: Most adults are pretty good team players, even if they have never played team sports.