The Importance of Building Downtime Into Your Child’s Schedule

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Written by Tara Mitchell of Embark on the Journey.

Are your kids involved in a multitude of extracurricular activities? Do they attend Sunday School, youth group, and a homeschool co-op, as well? Do you feel as if you’re in your car more than you’re not?

If so, your kids may be struggling with overload. They may have a hard time switching from on-the-go to stay-at-home mode.

Kids need downtime built into their days. They need time to play and time to relax. Their bodies need to rest, and their brains need a break. Downtime allows them to recharge so they can be at their best for everything else they want to accomplish.

Now, I say this as a big reminder to myself. I have to purposely schedule downtime into my teen’s days. If I don’t, she will burn out. She has such a hectic schedule with Nutcracker rehearsals, co-op classes, and volunteer work at the animal shelter. With all of this craziness, her downtime is a precious commodity!

Why Kids Need Downtime

Mindless activities help them regroup.

It’s important for kids and teens alike to have time for mindless activities. These activities could include watching an episode of their favorite show, playing a video game, or scrolling through social media if they’re old enough.

The point is to have a little time to disengage from their schedules and to-do lists. Mindless activities provide time to rest and relax and take a brain break.

They need time for unstructured play.

On days when there are no activities scheduled, I encourage play time. For younger kids, this could be playing with the neighbors or siblings in the backyard, at the park, or in the playroom. Older kids may want to invite a friend over to hang out.

This time is meant to be engaging but not structured. The children are using their imaginations and building social skills, but still relaxing. It’s not intended to be an organized activity, homework session, or practice.

Kids need time to invest in hobbies.

Not a sport or dance. Not a speech or debate. Kids need to have time to discover hobbies and explore their interests. Whether it’s baking, sewing, building LEGO models, or dog grooming, time for hobbies is essential.

When kids have time to explore new things and work on new projects, they learn to relax and take pleasure in the things they create or do.

Kids need to unwind and calm down before bed.

Several nights a week, we don’t get home until close to bedtime. If your kids are involved in sports or dance, your schedule may be similar.

When they come home, kids may be keyed up. They may be hungry or excited about the activity in which they just participated.

We tend to have a little “unwind” before it’s time for bed. Prepare a nutritious bedtime snack and let your child tell you all about his day while they eat. Taking a quick shower may help them relax enough to head to bed. Maybe, like my daughter, they need to read in bed for a bit before it’s lights out.

The key here is to allow them to unwind, unload their excitement, and settle in for a good night’s sleep, so they are ready to face a brand new, sometimes busy, day!

We need to make sure that our kids have downtime. We don’t need schedule every minute of their lives. As the mom of a competitive dancer, I have seen just how precious every moment of downtime that we can squeeze into a day is.

What do you do to ensure that your children have downtime in their busy days?

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Tara is wife to Matt and homeschool momma of three. Her children are 21, 16, and 11 – two boys and one girl. She is currently homeschooling her daughter – 6th grade. When she’s not blogging, Tara enjoys crocheting and snuggling up with a good book. She and her family recently moved from Texas to Ohio, and they’re having fun exploring their new surroundings. She blogs about homeschooling, motherhood, and family life on both of her blogs – Homeschool Preschool and Teaching with Children's Books.

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