I’ve had a few conversations recently about downtime and how important it is for children, so I thought this week I’d just put out a reminder (yes, I’ve written about it before) about why it is so important and how you can make sure your child gets some regularly.
First of all, what do I mean by downtime?
As adults we all like a bit of space sometimes, don’t we? Time to recharge the batteries and do something that you enjoy. It’s such a big thing, especially if we have hectic lives but the trouble is, we sometimes forget to make sure our kids get it too. We make sure they have all the opportunities to do anything they are interested in, as well as making sure they do their homework, making sure they read every day, making sure they have something to do in between all the other stuff (because kids like to be busy, right?!).
Well, no. Kids need exactly the same as us. Time to recharge, time to do what they want and time to get interested in their own things (not just the things we sometimes think they want to do). When was the last time you let them do nothing? When was the last time you didn’t intervene in their day?
Just food for thought.
Downtime gives them chance to explore and experiment with different things that interest them. Allowing them the freedom to choose and go off to do what they want, is giving their creative brains chance to click into action and build the blocks of problem-solving and innovative thinking.
We know that sometimes, your child might just want to do nothing, and that’s ok too! Resting the brain after a busy day is what we all should do and knowing children as they are, I bet they don’t laze around for that long!
So, where do you start?
· Well, start by planning in some downtime at least a few times a week. Add it to the diary so you don’t let it be forgotten in the flurry of life – it’s too important for your child’s development.
· Don’t intervene in their activity (unless it is for safety reasons!).
· If your child struggles to switch off, model what they could do in the time. Offer calm activities that you could do together – drawing, reading, painting…
· If your child has an interest, like gardening, offer advice on using tools, etc. The same goes for cooking or woodwork. It’s important that downtime is sometimes a training session modelled by you so that your child gets the skills they need for a particular project. It’s obviously important that you are part of this process – this is NOT intervening!
· Set some boundaries if necessary – a “yes, you can paint, but not on the walls…” kinda thing.
A word of warning here too. Although computers have their benefits, you may find that your child will ask to use it for their downtime. Try to avoid this, at least at the start. Computers have their benefits and they will of course be of interest, but finding out what else is out there is as important. It’s about broadening your child’s world and to be honest, sometimes the computer game has become a habit (which may be hard to break!).
Downtime should be a cherished time, with opportunity to switch off and immerse themselves in something quietly and calmly. Their brains deserve it and you can watch them knowing that you are developing and growing a creative thinker.
Join the conversation and let me know what you think and how you cope with downtime. I’d live to hear your stories and find out what works for you!
Until next week, stay creative!