Why Not Every Minute of Your Kid’s Life Needs to Be Scheduled

Reflections on being less “busy” and finding balance from a full-time mama 
a young child running on a boardwalk
Pexels / Harrison Haines

I feel like at times that weird badge of “I’m so busy” has trickled down into parenting life. WHEN did we decide we need to keep our kids occupied 24/7? WHO decided this was the best method to parent?

Well, I’m here to gently suggest ideas to happily balance the most active of kids and not have you driving every weekend.

Tips for Finding Balance

As many solo full-time parents know, our weekends look a little different than most. But my suggestions can easily be tailored to all families—because anyone might work weekends or nights, causing more of the “parenting” role to fall on one parent at times.

Talk to your kiddo

After the age of four or five, most kids really start to feel empowered and know where their interests lie. Keeping communication open and asking them to choose 1-4 activities or sign-ups a year is a great way to nurture new hobbies/sports.

Pay attention to their interests

Is your kid happiest outdoors, covered in mud? Maybe this can be embraced with an adventure- or nature-based camp. Maybe it can involve an organized group (think Scouts) to hone in on those survival skills. Or do they always need music and make up dances (like my kid)? A dance class or camp could be perfect, or maybe even gymnastics. The key here is to find something active and keep their attention with a great beat!

A child examines a plant
Pexels / Anna Shvets

Note: If you have a little athlete, nurture that 100 percent, but keep it as a hobby without expectations. I’ve seen many parents, without knowing, push to the point where it’s no longer about the kid and more about results. That’s not fun.

Let them be bored

Honestly, it’s okay to let them whine sometimes. This is where they learn to get creative or discover new things. Boredom isn’t bad. It’s a great opportunity for problem solving and gives children (and adults) a “brain break.”

Unwind with playdates

I’m a firm believer in adult and kiddos having joint playdates in any season. Let the kids make up games, dance parties, puzzles … whatever it is. This will give you parents a chance to catch up and have a little adult time in a stress-free environment. Why? Because usually, happy kids equals relaxed parents! (P.S. Don’t forget the snacks.) 

Embrace free time

Just enjoy some old fashioned “free time” afternoons. See where the adventure takes you. Maybe it’s baking together, a hike, mini road trip, or even solo time. My kiddo has grown up with this and I always encourage independent play time. That might look like using screens, activities, going outdoors, or chilling in their room. Giving them a sense of independence and solo time is super important, in my opinion, for a well-adjusted kiddo and parent.

A mother flies a kite with two children
Pexels / Anastasia Shuravea

Explore together

In the winter, we go away with our best friends south. This allows us to have the experiences we crave, also while getting our kids to become better travellers. If you want to stay local, see what your town or city has to offer. Go on a picnic. Pick a new town to visit on a mini road trip. Watch a documentary or show to learn something new (we are obsessed with anything David Attenborough)!

I’m not an expert parent. But from year after year of learning through friends and being a 24/7, hands-on FT mama, I’ve definitely gained an added air of experience, fast-tracked.

For more parenting truths, food ideas, or memes, follow me @rachelbies

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