One of the fascinating things about having five kids is observing who hangs out with whom. The composition can change rapidly as you find different kids — even of drastically different ages — bonding and playing then you had before.
Like many parents, we tend to strive to “pack” too much in. Yet as we aspire to have our kids do this and do that precious down-time and breathing room easily get left out of the equation. When everyone seems to be getting too worked up, one magical remedy (and I’m not a doctor) that seems to have help is unstructured play time. We’ve all read about the importance of play for younger kids but play remains important for pre-teens and teens as well. Kids of this age still need that environment in which they can pick what they want to do and explore the world with curiosity without feeling the pressure to perform.
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Our oldest Hedley is likely the busiest of our pack. An eighth grader, he’s often up late with homework and plays on two soccer teams. One recent Saturday, though, he found time to just go hang out with his little sister in her room. They ended up playing a game and starting their own club. Hedley and Marielle have what it takes to form what they called “the extremities club”: he’s the oldest, she’s the youngest, they both have the high foreheads of my Swedish family and each an intense personality.Over in my room Beckett had picked up and old pair of sunglasses and was trying out cool moves from his mother’s chair. Although not as busy as Hedley, Beckett is starting 5th grade and confronting a busier schedule and homework for the first time. A little down time did him some good too.When you can, try to inject a bit of breathing room into your house. If you’re on a budget and going out to eat seems difficult, try taking a walk together or bringing a ball outside. If nothing else works, just plump down on the sofa together and watch something interesting and then discuss it over dinner. It really doesn’t matter what you do or play, it’s that you’re together, bonding over something, and enjoying time with one another. This time strengthens families. All families encounter stress — patches of yelling, frustration and conflict. What gets you through these are the good times you putting into your family’s emotional “piggybank” so to speak.
Have a great rest of your weekend.
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