So there’s this school in Auckland that signed up to be a part of a study to encourage active play. Only the principal, who is now my hero, took it a step further and decided to abandon recess rules completely.
The end result?
A drop in bullying, serious injuries, and vandalism, and an increase in the kids’ concentration levels.
And what did the kids do to occupy themselves when they were outside? Well, they climbed trees, skateboarded, and used their imaginations to create games.
Yet, here in our own city of Toronto there’s a school that banned balls. The school my own boys go to has its own set of recess rules that I find just as ridiculous (but I make sure they follow them because they are the rules that are in place).
Parents, WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DOING?
Listen, I freely admit I sway more to the free-range side than helicopter in terms of parenting (although I do have helicopter moments, uncut grapes being my own personal nemesis) so I get that we all have our own issues. And this isn’t a my-way-is-better-than-you-way rant.
This is a rant about how we, as a society as a whole, are screwing up big time.
Because really, what are we doing? Our kids are over-scheduled with activities and when they aren’t being taught that ‘exercise’ means being driven to a sport for an hour a few times a week, a good portion of our kids tend to be plugged into technology.
Don’t even get me started on the whole “we have to start our kids using technology now so they don’t get left behind.” Here’s a newsflash…the technology we have now will be obsolete ten years from now just like the technology from a decade ago is obsolete today.
Want to know who picks up technology in about 3.2 nanoseconds? Kids. You don’t have to concern yourself about with your young offspring falling behind because they’re the ones who are going to be teaching it to you. Give your child Minecraft and 20 minutes and you’ll understand what I mean.
We’re worried our kids are falling behind so they are starting school earlier and earlier, yet we’re also worried they may hurt themselves—with things like BALLS—so we’re creating more and more rules to help protect them when in fact it’s this thinking that is really hurting them.
Children need free time to foster creativity, be active, learn how to get along, and just be kids. Not everything they do needs to have an end to justify the means. The entire process is justified because they are learning. Not with books and exams, or through coaching and drills, but by simply doing.
Our children, yours and mine, may be the first generation to be outlived by their parents. Think about that for a second…it’s a possibility that due to health problems from lack of activity and bad eating habits that we could actually outlive our children.
Our children may not have the childhood freedom we did, and yes, there are certain instances where I did stupid shit—just like the rest of you—but that stupid shit also taught me life lessons. Like how to get along with others, and how to use my imagination, that books are magical, and attempting to learn how to drive a moped at the age of ten is a bad idea and will leave you with a scar on your leg.
So tell me, why are we doing this? Why are we letting our kids sit around in front of screens all day? Why are we not telling them to go outside to play? Why are we exchanging free time for scheduled activities?
Why do we continue to create rules that we say are meant to protect our children when in fact those very rules may be hindering their social, physical, and emotional growth?
My kids playing with hard balls may not scare me but these questions sure as hell do.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and while cute cards and pink everything may cut it with the younger set, if you’re a parent of older kids, finding a gift that isn’t too cutesy can be a challenge.
I always like to give my boys a Valentine's Day gift with meaning that makes each of them feel special. But since they're both older, neither would wear a shirt like that out in public now. It's eerily similar to me attempting to hug them in public, it's against the rules.
Oh, and no candy or cookies or cake pops or whatever else Pinterest is trying to convince me to bake or create, because It's SO CUTE and Yes Even You Can Do It!
For the record, I can't. Plus they still have almost all of their Halloween stash, the last thing we need in this house is more sugar.
That’s why I thought this was the perfect gift—I adopted each of them their favourite animal from WWF Canada. A few weeks ago in a conversation I asked what animal they would adopt if they could, because I’m sneaky like that—they suspect nothing, only that their mother asks them ridiculous random questions. Thus, my older son is receiving a snowy owl and my younger son a panda bear.
This isn’t sponsored at all, I just thought it was a cool way to donate money and show your kids you love them by giving them an animal they love.
p.s. I’m actually taking a big risk posting this, because my older son sometimes reads my blog while he’s at school and thinks I don’t know.
p.p.s. So, Dear Son, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, DON’T TELL YOUR BROTHER.
p.p.p.s. Oh, and Happy Early Valentine’s Day! I love you!
Whether you embrace the romance of or refuse to partake in forced declarations of love, our Valentine’s Day page is filled with articles, crafts, activities, and food to fit your mood.
Listen, I know I’m not going to win any fans with this, but if you want to be less stressed and enjoy your mornings more, try getting up earlier. And I don’t mean waking up earlier, being in complete denial, and trying to fall back asleep. I mean actually getting out of bed.
I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination. My kids know not to approach me, make annoying sounds, ask questions, complain about breakfast, or bring me forms to sign until I have had my coffee. Nor am I an evening person like my husband, who can exercise at 9pm while it takes all of my energy to change the channel with a remote. I’m more of an “I have a great two hour window about mid-morning and the rest can suck it" person.
However, not through any planning on my part, I started to get up earlier. I’ve always woken up around 6:00am, but technically don’t need to get out of bed until 7:00-ish, so I would stay in bed and one of two things would happen:
(1) I would spend the hour rolling from side to side, trying to find a comfortable position so I could go back to sleep, all the while being annoyed that I’m not actually sleeping.
(2) I would fall back asleep and either sleep past 7:00am or wake up in time, but feeling groggy.
So, I just gave in and decided to get out of bed when I woke up.
It wasn’t great when I first started doing it, because I was still carrying over the bitterness of losing an hour or so of sleep (see Point 1). But after a couple of weeks, I began to—gasp—like it. I could enjoy my coffee in peace while surfing the net. I would knock off a chunk of my work before I even had breakfast. There was more time to make lunches, so I wasn’t running around and throwing things into lunch bags all willy nilly.
There has also been a marked decline in my morning “oh my god what do you mean you’re not ready go brush your teeth and comb your hair why aren’t you wearing socks” yelling, although it hasn't *completely* disappeared. I'm not a miracle worker.
Over time, these early mornings have now become my favourite part of the day.
I mean, aside from the time when it’s socially acceptable for me to have a glass of wine.