To save the free game and the time of childhood!

15 May, 2018

It's crazy how busy our weeks are! Work, washing, housekeeping, groceries, homework, social life, 15 minutes of running three times a week, bathing, reading daily stories, preparing meals (balanced of course!), maintaining the land, seasonal rotation of clothing, sports items, visit of grandparents, lark. When my in-laws offered to enrol and pay for the piano lessons of the oldest, we hesitated for a long time. We really wanted our children to learn music, but we were a little afraid to get on board and lose our freedom. (At least what was left of it!) If Louis played the piano, would we allow Laurier to play hockey, and Simone to skate? In fact, we didn't want to enrol our children in a series of extracurricular activities and add extra tasks to our already busy schedule. In front of Louis' enthusiasm we accepted. On the other hand, we took the opportunity to put in place a very strict family policy in relation to registrations for various extracurricular activities. The goal is to preserve this freedom, this precious free time that allows us to find ourselves together. This policy is based on four criteria: 1- The activity must be held during the week. 2- The frequency of this should not exceed once a week. 3- The activity must be held in our city. 4- Every child is entitled to only one activity at a time. In our often timed schedule, we often end up being stressed and tired. Insidiously, we find ourselves caught up in a kind of race for parental excellence and, let's face it, it's sometimes heavy to carry. By wanting to be good parents, I feel like we sometimes do too much! That to try too hard to do well we end up doing too much, and that all in all, we hide the little moments of availability for our children. These little moments of freedom, far from stress, which are great pretexts for tenderness, creativity and spontaneity. These Saturday mornings cowardly to get bored until noon, and finally decide to go for a walk to the park, passing through the grocery store to fetch some fruit and snacks to eat on the grass. Those moments when our children will shout "Look at Mom" 14 times, when we will leave our book with our eyes for a few seconds and say ''Bravo!'' and finally plunge us back into our reading. Those moments that make our children feel free! Because that feeling of freedom is, in my opinion, the nature of childhood. He will leave them far too quickly with the arrival of new responsibilities, as well to preserve it for a few years. Elisabeth Simard from the blog Tape Tape (I love love it!) in his book ''Living simply'' put very beautiful words on something that guides all my reflections. A kind of mantra, which guides most of the decisions I make on a daily basis. She formulates it as this: ''I always have in mind the reasons why I do this: to be a calmer, more laid-back, more present mother.'' It is to be this quieter, calm and present mother that I have put in place this policy of enrolling in extracurricular activities. I know myself, when the obligations come out of my ears so much my mental load is great and my brain overheats under the weight of everything I have to think about, I'm not really available for my children. I'm no longer that light and sneering mother who teases them, I'm no longer this lover who thinks about paying little attention to her spouse, I become the stressed mother who pushes her little one for fear of being late, who finds that no one does sufficiently in the house, which lacks tolerance in the face of noises and arguments, in short, which Stress Everybody! When I take the time to live these moments of freedom without trying to do more, when I drop certain parental requirements to live freely and be with my children, the whole house changes rhythm. Create, play, dream, tell, bored in freedom without ''outside direction'' idonly, without wanting to ''fill the void'' as the saying Eve Hermann in his book Growing Up Otherwise.  Let us not forget that free play is an important thing, a rich source of learning for our children. The game is not futile, quite the contrary. Through free play, children move enormously and fulfill their need for physical activity. If you want your children to play sports, leave balloons, sports equipment, jump ropes, bikes, scooters at their fingertips. Let them climb trees, jump over patio chairs, climb on a picnic table, create an obstacle course with logs. If you are keen to develop their self-esteem and sportsmanship, play with them, don't always let them win, highlight their victories. For my part, I am sure that if my children are so collaborative, it is partly because of this availability that I have for them. It is because of this freedom that I leave them, the spontaneity that I have developed thanks to the empty boxes on our family planner. This is because I have the time and leisure to listen to their 'Look At Mommy!'' or their ''Mom comes to see''. This is because I have time (and patience) to take out the paint and brushes on Sunday morning in order to make artistic creations with them. That's because I'm not afraid to go and trade a few baseballs with them (even though I'm very lame! haha!). When I ask them to participate, they are much more collaborative, they realize very well that we, their parents, participate in their games and it makes them want to return the favor. I think that is called family spirit.