Free Time

The first few days after school let out were a bit hairy. With all the anticipation for saying goodbyes, then promises of a Summer of Fun, now suddenly here we were, together, with a whole lot of time on our hands. Kaya was a bit manic in her desire to be busy, busy, busy. “What’s next?” she would ask at barely finishing one activity, then again “What now?” after that one was sort of finished. Brennyn was just following along, giddy to have her big sister home, moving from one thing to the next along with Kaya. Until their battles began. Yelling, screaming, hitting, whining, crying battles.

I too got caught up in the mania, appeasing Kaya’s demands with activity after activity after activity possibly out of summer excitement but more probably because I was feeling so bad about her broken arm. ‘No broken arm is going to dampen our summer!’ I declare by way of arts and crafts and meet ups and adventures.

Only the mania was not allowing any time to appreciate anything, activities and company alike.

After 2 days of non-stop action (and non-stop fighting amongst the girls), I wake up in the morning and realize I want nothing to do with them. Which is so not how I envisioned my summer going, excited as I was to have so much play time with both my girls.

Grumpy and now worrying about the length of the summer, I drink coffee and turn on the Tour de France, planning nothing, moping a lot. The girls try to bring me into their play (and battles) but I am in no mood and tell them they can play on their own (and sort out their own fights).

And a funny thing happens.

They begin playing beautifully together. Imaginations soar with dolly house and dance recitals. A few interjections by me on that first day, but few to none on days since.
Left to their own devices, they are quietly, happily engaged with each other. And I am happy savouring my coffee and indulging in the Tour.

With that, my summer plans don’t so much change as they shift into a lower gear and I immediately add it to my Summer Manifesto. Coffee and Tour de France. *breathe*

That’s what it feels like actually, a deep yoga ‘OM’ setting the tone for the day. Me with space and time to enjoy my coffee and write in my journal while watching biking and the girls time to play.

On that first day, Kaya resisted a bit, wanting guidance on what to do and me to participate fully. Taking a cue from Kindergarten, I explain that this is Free Centre time, my choice is coffee and biking, she has a choice too and since this is a Kindie concept, it is treated with reverence and she chooses dolly house. On days since the girls have chosen marching band, board game, puzzles and fort building.

Loungy mornings to balance out our outdoor pursuits of fabulous summer days.

Even as I jot notes about this now, Bal is making tomato avocado grilled cheese (simple summer meals!) and I sit entranced gazing at my two gorgeous girls play.

With two sponges, a bucket, a tree and each other, for twenty minutes all they do is soak their sponges, throw them up into the tree and scream “ROLEPLAY!”

Giggle, giggle, splash. And repeat. Over and over and over again.

Then it’s time to take those sponges and squish them into each other playing leap frog.

Giggle, giggle, squish and repeat.

Next is chase and Sponge Tag. They may patent it, so popular it was.

Summer mania had me forget momentarily the value of free time. Not simply a necessity the girls must do when I need to get things done, free time is where imagination, creativity, independence, free will, confidence and strength are born. Qualities, by the way, still growing amongst the older set (um, that would be me!)

Yes, free play, as important to include in our summer days as waterparks and picnics.

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2 thoughts on “Free Time

  1. When I first read this I wanted to respond with LOVE LOVE LOVE for this post. At the time I had recently experienced a moment like yours when I realize my girls were “in play” as kids should be. I was caught off guard by it and suddenly came to the awareness that this type of play is not always encouraged by me. Happy, getting along play, yes, for sure (I certainly don’t encourage fighting! lol!), but that FREE time for FREE play. It seems to be a “just play for a bit, so Mommy can pack before we go….” kind of thing…and not so much, “Today our morning is about playing at home on the carpet, what can i get out for you?” Such a reminder to make time for free time! I love your comment on the balance of it all. In the Simplicity Parenting course they express the importance of this play and for parents not to engage, direct or comment but perhaps to be on the sidelines of it all, available. Great post!

    • Thanks! I love what you said about the Simplicity Parenting because during the sponge water play I almost, almost, jumped in and asked why they were yelling Roleplay and then I caught myself and realized that asking that would totally ruin the moment. It didn’t matter why, it just mattered that they found it HILARIOUS! Sometimes our most important job as parents is stepping back… (as hard as that can be sometimes!)

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