Downtime is one of the most incredible things we can offer our kids. When kids are given time to play, to explore and to create at their own speed we are allowing them get to know themselves, allowing them to make mistakes and try again. Downtime lets kids learn what they want to learn when they want to learn it.
In our house downtime is a regular part of our routine. Part of the reason is I just like to be home. (I don’t get stir crazy… ever). Part of it though, is that I understand the importance of unstructured blocks of time. I know that when kids don’t feel rushed the possibilities are endless. When they have time a simple project can take on a life of its own.
With how busy life is, downtime can be a difficult thing to get your hands on. School, sports, clubs and chores can easily pile up until you find yourself constantly on the go. Making sure it happens is possible and sometimes as easy as letting go of outings that weren’t that important anyway!
Downtime: How To Create It
- Make room in your day for it, which means sometimes you’ll have to schedule unscheduled time!
- Plan invitations to play, to create and to pretend. You know I have a deep love for planned activities, but the truth is we have far more open-ended activities than we do structured activities.
- Be sort of available. Read a book, do the dishes or something else that makes you busy but not unavailable. That way you can help expand on their play without taking it over. It will allow you to give them enough space to explore.
- Extend their play whenever you can. When the kids get really into something, do what you can to make it last longer. Rearrange your schedule or delay plans.
- Chat about ideas before the downtime starts. “We will be home in 10 minutes, then we have nothing planned for almost 2 hours! What do you think you’ll do with all that fantastic time?” This is a great way to get kids thinking about how they can spend this time.
- Start an activity and then back out of it. If your little one seems lost (or if downtime is a new thing in your home), ease into it by starting out an activity. Then slowly back away giving them the space to continue, grow and explore the experience on their own.
How do you make sure to get downtime for your family?