I have never been a mom that feels it necessary to completely fill my children's schedules with activities. Okay, maybe I did a little for the first child but I have since learned some valuable lessons.
We only allow our children to do one sport/activity at a time. (ie if you learn karate you are not also playing soccer during the same season). We want them to experience many activies, just not all at once. I believe in "down time" time to just be a kid. I know what a full packed schedule is like and it doesn't leave any time for...well you know...nothing.
Many of us make the mistake of believing that we want our children to have all of the experiences we did not have as children (I never took ballet so my first daughter was introduced at 4 years old...she wasn't a fan)
We want them INVOLVED we want them HAPPY we want them to learn an infinate number of skills. However, this often leads to a lack of quality time with family, siblings and again that nothing time I mentioned. We run to this practice, that team function, the store for new cleats, across town for that class, and we loose sight of one very important thing...down time. I also want clarification here...down time is not media time. My children will tell you I am vicious about avoiding media in the summer. I don't usually allow it before 7pm, hardly ever during the day, and no video games or computer if it is nice outside...Go.Outside! I have been known to tell my children to go outside and not come back in until lunch saving for bathroom and refreshment breaks. I told you...I am that mom.
Why in the world would I tout downtime and boredom as a desired experience for my precious gems? Because...it leads to greater things. It leads to dragon slaying from the tops of the 30ft pine tree, it leads to prairie living out of the back of a wagon parked in the bushes, it leads to building miniature landscapes from pebbles and peering into the world that may exist beneath the leaves at the base of a tree. Boredom leads to seeking mom out in the garden and asking about how she can tell the difference between weeds and plants, it leads to expirimenting in the kitchen and coming up with a new recipe, writing stories in a previously abandoned notebook, creating games that never exisited, forcing one to work with a sibling to figure out how to create something big.
Bottom line...nothing to do, and nowhere to go leads to... IMAGINATION. I was a child of the last times when you didn't have the immediate access of computers and gadgets. I survived, my whole generation did. We reminisce about long hot summer days with popsicles, sprinklers, tag wars, firefly lanterns, secret forts, rock collections, dandelion crowns, and BOREDOM. In that boredom imagination takes flight. You learn to create ideas from...well nothing. To engage your creative processes and figure something out...kick a can if you have to. Ask some old timer about that game.
When I was a child summer also seemed to go on forever. So long that when it was time for school, it was kind of welcomed as a structured setting once again. You looked back on the summer and it was a vast expanse of experiences and adventures and it seemed that it lasted forever. But, since our children today are growing up exponentially faster than most previous generations did, it doesn't last forever...but I want them to feel like it did. I want them to remember sticky hot summer lying around looking at cloud shapes, imagining new games (my kids made one up with a sprinkler under the trampoline and sports balls inside the trampoline) and dreaming new ideas.
I believe that this imagination that comes from boredom and nothingness will serve my children well later in life. They have created ideas that not been given them. When it is time to make a living, maybe they will be the quiet one behind the scenes coming up with a new innovation for how to make this or that work better. Maybe they will be leading at the forefront with groundbreaking plans for something big, maybe they will just be the mediators who help different sides see one and other's point of view.
But, I believe that what is created out of boredom will serve a purpose. At a bare minimum, maybe I will have created a space that my grandchildren will one day relish in, a space where you have to rely on creativity to save you because your mom made you go outside and play.