“I feel like I’m in Jail,” mutters my daughter. She can’t even grumble aloud, because even that is forbidden during jail-sentence. I’m taken aback and offended, when I am told this by someone who overhears her and makes it a point to tell me. Jail? My kids? I’m the happy mother taking them out, working out with them, studying with them, eating with them, reading with them… am I not?
“Let’s go, time for Yoga…” “Ok guys, reading time!” “What have they done in school today? Open your books and show me!” or “You have exactly 30 mins for lunch after that ….”
Time to pray, time to read, time to play, time to get to school, bed-time, play-time, exercise-time, wake-up time… it is something-or-the- other-time. And my kids do not go for tuitions. In this age where I see almost 90% of my children’s classmates go for some tuition or the other, I take pride in the fact that my kids are not dispatched for any. Therefore, I think I’m the best, non-pressure parenter in the world. Certified by me, of course! The ‘Jail’ remark by my daughter, opened my eyes (after I put aside my self-pitying, offended side away).
The school they go to has incredibly long hours. And after they are back I’m there in my balancing act, trying to weave in a healthy balance of daily school-work-revision (15 mins of brush-up of school work, com’on!), exercise, bonding time via reading, then the nightly routine of packing school bags-saying-good-night -brushing-teeth.
Phew! I forgot the nothing time.
Unstructured nothing time is precious. I find my son looking out of the window and dreaming and I scream, “We have only 5 mins to reach school. Can you find some other time to dream?” Fact is that in this elusive pitch to raise a well-rounded child I’ve been running as fast as I can, packing in a whole lot of things that leave me and my kids… well… exhausted. Does this sound familiar?
Kids today have half as much free time as they did 30 years ago, notes a national study of 3,500 children, 12 and under, released by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.Senior research scientist at the institute Sandra L. Hofferth endorses that children are affected by the same time crunch as their parents.
I am stunned.
The importance of Nothing Time hit me when in a structured play session (ahem!) the instructor gave the kids 5 minutes of free-time and I saw my son looking flummoxed. He had 5 minutes and he looked like he didn’t know what to do with his hands or himself.