Embracing the Slow of Childhood + A Day In The Life

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Since my girlfriends and I were children, something has occurred in our culture that has changed the way mothers spend their days with their children. Some, of course, return to work fairly quickly and their children attend daycare or preschool. Though there has been a steep incline of this for many modern families, the change I am referring to relates to the average stay-at-home mother with young children in tow.

What significant change has occurred since I grew up in the 80's and 90's?


Busyness. 

I look around me and I see us mothers filling our days from dawn to dusk with activities, outings, clubs, errands, even just purposeless browsing through the mall. Many stay-at-home mothers are incessantly hectic, frantic, and stressed. Naturally, because of this, their children are losing that one chance they have in their lives (probably until retirement) of being what God made kids to be.

Slow and present.



What Kids Are Missing Out On

"My mother can't believe how much I take the kids out. She never took us anywhere. And I remember that, too. We had endless days at home. It was lovely."


A friend said this to me a few weeks ago. Since then, we have also talked about the enormous drive from society for children to begin schooling young. Governments toy with the idea of making schooling available for children as young as four. Early learning centers become places of learning to read instead of places to play.

Our society has forgotten that play is the primary learning language of children. And that doesn't stop at five.


"Children need what we rarely give them in school - time for messing about."

John Holt, How Children Learn 


This is what I believe more and more: 

Children will always have the opportunity to study. 

Always. They will never, however, get this time back again. And what is this time?

The time to be slow...

The time to run and be wild...

The time to climb tress and explore their own backyard for hours on end...

The time to lie on their backs and watch the clouds change into different shapes... 

And that is how children have lived for thousands of years. It is only a recent phenomena that children live the busy, hectic, school-filled days they are in now. Can no-one else see that this new way of living has coincided with behavioural issues in younger children as well as more concerning mental health issues for older children?



The Responsibility of Mothers


Charlotte Mason once said in the early 1900's:

"Of the evils of modern education few are worse than this - that the perpetual cackle of his elders leaves the poor child not a moment of time, nor an inch of space, wherein to wonder - and grow."

The cackle of elders... No inch of space... To wonder and grow...

If schooling was busy in those days, what would Miss Mason think of today's child's typical childhood?

Sometimes mothers fill their days because they can't stand the thought of living a slower life. There might be a fear of being home a lot that prevents them from evaluating how they are spending their time - and their children's time. As mothers, it is not only our own days we are responsible for, but also for our children. If we are squandering their precious early years for our own personal insecurities, that is something we need to seriously reconsider, perhaps repent of, and change through Christ.

Even though being home is not something I struggle with on a regular basis, there have definitely been times where I have sacrificed the needs of my children because I said 'Yes' to too many people for my own needs. And when staying home is a sacrifice for me, I try and take those feelings to the Lord and His grace is always sufficient for my struggles.



So, what does a slow, normal day of childhood look like in our home? 

Well, here is what our day looked like today:

7-9am: My daughter had a rough night, so we eased into the day slowly. Though I got dressed, neither of my kids got out of pj's until after lunch. I did everyone's chores because it made me get going. Lots of reading picture books on the couch and playing individual games.

9.30am: We sat on the couch and read about the Royal Albatross for about twenty minutes. Then we coloured in a special drawing to put into our Nature Journals.

10.15am: Morning tea. Josiah went straight to LEGO. Rosalie started playing with her teddies.

11am: I sit down for twenty minutes with Josiah to help find pieces for the LEGO he was building. Aunty Prue arrives and joins in.

11.30am: I make scones for lunch and LEGO continues.

12pm: Lunch then room time. Kids quietly play in their rooms.

1.15pm: Josiah gets out his Monopoly game and starts playing on his own, changing the rules a bit an inventing things. Rosie and I say 'goodbye' to Aunty Prue and we get ready to go for a walk.

2pm: We head to the Red Zone. We walk for about 30mins, the kids running and exploring. The dog is delerious. We end it at the new pop-up ramp with their scooters.

3pm: Home and straight back to the Monopoly game. Afternoon tea.

3.20pm: The game is abandoned and the trampoline is played on for a little. Bouncing frogs, rough and tumble. Then scooters are used with great force. 

4pm: To the bedroom and a world is created with LEGO men, cars, a few teddies and blankets. I don't know what it is about, but they are absorbed and not fighting. I write some of this post and start dinner. Rosie decided she wanted to do a little painting.

5pm: Family dinner round the table. Soup and garlic butter rolls. Delish!

5.30pm: Kitchen is cleaned up and bath night is on. Our kids have (at most) three baths a week. Yes, I said it. We dropped the nightly bath routine about two years ago.

6pm: PJ's are back on only five hours later (that isn't normal, lol!), and it is story time on Mummy and Daddy's bed. 

6.30pm: Rosalie is in bed and Josiah is having quiet play on the big bed, winding down and ready for his bed at 7pm.

The day is done and dusted. Adult time (eg. blob in front of the couch with a cup of tea).


This is a very typical day for us if there is no outing scheduled. Sometimes there is a little more planned education chucked in - perhaps a reading lesson, or a read aloud, or some math, or some art. But much of our learning is done through normal, slow, everyday living. With loads of relaxed, natural play for the children to - as John Holt would say - 'mess about'.


The Blessings of Embracing Slow Childhood


There are definitely times when, for some reason or another, our weeks get too busy. Sometimes, like I said, this is my fault for scheduling in too many things. And, at other times, it isn't my fault at all. It is life in a modern world.

Yet, the modern world does not control me. And though I cannot control my life, I can ask for help, wisdom, guidance, and the discipline from the Lord to prioritise what is best for family life. 

This enables our days to be generally days of thriving and not surviving. The kids have enough sleep, enough time to play, enough time to learn, enough time to grow and discover who the unique persons they are that God made them to be.

Yes, to embrace the slow of childhood is good.

4 comments:

  1. We had many, many days like this! We still do but with older kids we have different activities we turn to. Pinned.

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    1. Oh, wow! Thank you for pinning! Yes, I imagine that as they get older, life changes quite a bit!

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  2. I love this. We are sometimes too busy for my own peace, this is something that I've been intentionally working on...cutting back. I love days at home not going anywhere, where the routines flow, and the kids get to squeal and play. I remind myself of that often so I can say no to things frequently. This was one of my favorite parts. It makes you think..." As mothers, it is not only our own days we are responsible for, but also for our children. If we are squandering their precious early years for our own personal insecurities." Thanks for sharing with us at #LiveLifeWell.

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    1. Yes, it is such a discipline on our behalf as mothers, isn't it? Especially when there are so many great and good things to be a part of.

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