Dear child experts,
I have had enough!
Please stop telling me what I am doing wrong and how much psychological damage I could be doing to my children by what I am not doing!
I am told that they need to learn a language as it broadens their minds and helps them get better careers.
They should all learn music, (you can’t even begin to describe the benefits of music!)
They should play sports as it teaches them about team work and they learn to be competitive.
They need to be encouraged to pursue science, not enough women go into science.
They should do theatre sports as it helps them with confidence and public speaking.
I have a huge list of things that the experts tell me I should be doing for my children.
But between all that extra-curricular activity and the dreaded homework when do they get time to just be kids?
My biggest worry is that they will grow up to have zero social skills, no connection to the environment as they don’t get time to be in it, and no idea what to do with themselves should they ever have a moment of unscheduled time!
How do they learn to be bored? It’s actually important to occasionally be bored!
It’s those quiet moments where you can actually think, you can mull things over in your head and sort things out, figure out what you feel. You get creative when you are bored, you write stories, play songs in your head, dream. You have to stop.
I wonder if there is a connection between overscheduling our children and our frantic lives and kids who can’t cope.
Is this why depression and suicide amongst children and teenagers is at an epidemic level?
I worry that apps like Pokémon Go mean that children have to have a reason to go for a walk, they can’t justify it to themselves to simply spend an hour enjoying nature with no purpose other than to feel good.
That’s really sad.
So I limit my children’s activities to two per term, one sport and Scouts. They do sport because it’s important to learn to be humble when they win, to be graceful when they lose and to be part of a team. Scouts is where we get our support base from, we have friends, connections, and as well as life skills they are getting, they are getting outdoors and learning to love nature.
But the mummy guilt still runs thickly in my veins, as thick as the looks of pity on other mums’ faces when I admit that we don’t do music lessons or learn Japanese or anything else. But guess what? While my child is running in the rain and jumping in puddles theirs are chained to a keyboard somewhere and probably hating every minute.
I used to pay so much attention to the child experts, I had so much ambition for my children’s future, for their careers and education, but now all I want is for them to survive, to be happy and healthy.
And really what is more important than that?