Do you have kids who seem overworked, overwhelmed, and overtired? If you want your kids to be happier simplify their lives. So many kids are overscheduled and struggling to try to keep up with all the things. Let’s look at where our kids will benefit from us choosing less.
Want your kids to be happier? Simplify
More kids than ever before are dealing with anxiety and depression. Overall, children are less healthy and less active than in previous generations. Kids are spending less time outside and
Let’s agree to let go of comparison and instead focus on the needs of our children. More isn’t always better. Sometimes more is simply too much. Let’s look at some areas in life where kids need less.
What you need to simplify
Our decisions of excess are negatively impacting our children. When we choose to fill our kids’ schedules with too much, their rooms with too much, allow too much screen time, and micromanage their lives, there are negative consequences. Let’s look at these four areas and consider where and how we can do better.
In the U.S., kids are spending more time in school even though test scores don’t seem to be improving. Recess is being minimized and kids are being expected to focus and work more than ever before.
When you add to that after school sports and activities kids have less and less time to play or to experience unscheduled free time. Parents, this is why you need to simplify. Our kids are not being set up for success when we overschedule their lives.
Overscheduled kids are more stressed and less happy. Having so much structure from such a young age is hard on children. If your kids come home from school and are an undone mess, it’s likely because they’re worn out from trying to keep it all together all day.
While we may not be able to completely control our kids’ school schedule, (unless you homeschool) you do get to decide on the extracurriculars. If your kids seem done at the end of the school day, significantly limit the number of activities they have after school.
Let’s let kids be kids and allow them the freedom to play and have unstructured time. Children need to burn energy and have time that isn’t structured and controlled by adults.
Not everything can be learned in classrooms and through lessons. Kids need to be allowed the freedom to play and have some control over some of their lives. Don’t force them into constant activities trying to prepare them for a future of your choosing.
Even summer has become a scheduled mess of camps, classes, and lessons. Kids need downtime. They need to experience boredom and learn to work through it. If we want them to develop problem-solving skills we need to allow them to work through situations on their own.
If you manage to schedule a slower summer, resist the temptation to pick up lots of activities in the fall. You can have a more relaxed schedule in the fall even if your friends aren’t opting to do the same.
Choose your priorities for your kids and learn to say no to things that don’t fit with them. It would be easy for their weekends to be filled with sports, events, and parties. If it’s important for you that your kids’ have downtime, you need to protect their schedule.
Have you experienced overwhelm when opening your closet and seeing all the options that you have? How do you feel when you go into a store and see that there are multiple brands and varieties of everything?
That same sense of overwhelm that we feel happens for kids when they’re faced with too many options. Decision fatigue is real and it impacts our kids just like it impacts us. Only they have less ability to cope with the stress that it causes.
When we then expect them to keep their toys picked up, but we’ve allowed too many toys in the first place, it’s an unfair and unrealistic expectation. We’ve set them up for failure because the amount of toys is unmanageable.
We end up with stressed parents and stressed kids when there are too many toys. No one wins in this situation. Studies have shown that there are many benefits to kids having fewer toys. They’re happier and play longer when they have fewer options.
Sometimes the plethora of toys comes as a result of emotional clutter we are carrying. Maybe we feel guilty about working as much as we do. Perhaps we grew up in a family that didn’t have much and we don’t want our kids to experience that.
It’s important to stop and consider our answers to these questions. What are we communicating when we inundate our kids with gifts? What example are we setting for a healthy relationship with money and stuff?
Are we teaching them to live simply in a culture focused on consumerism or are we simply another consumer? Have we overextended ourselves and aren’t living within our means?
Instead, let’s choose simpler toys that promote creativity and imagination. Let’s lessen the number of toys we bring into our homes. Experiences are wonderful gifts that don’t cause these challenges.
In recent years, screen time has taken over playtime. And frankly, some of the statistics are horrifying. Children are spending more and more time on tablets and screens and significantly less time on physical or social activities.
Kids are experiencing physical and mental health consequences associated with excessive video games. Look out for these warning signs that your kid is dealing with screen addiction.
While we inherently know that our smartphones are addicting (or we would if we looked at our usage), we can discount the impact that screens are having on our kids.
Just because it may be normal that kids have devices and use them often doesn’t make it a good idea. Your kid doesn’t have to be part of the statistic. If you want your kids to be happier, simplify their technology use. Your kid’s physical and mental health is at stake.
Kids aren’t getting a healthy level of physical activity when they spend hours staring at a screen. They also aren’t learning appropriate ways to socialize with other people. It’s important that children learn how to interact with others. That cannot be replicated on social media platforms.
Create boundaries with screen time. Decide ahead of time when you will introduce devices, where they can use them, and how much time they can spend on them.
Model a healthy relationship with technology. People come before phones. Pay attention to the world around you. Enjoy one another’s company and prioritize family over phones.
As children grow, they need to gain greater independence. Our goal as parents should be to raise healthy independent adults. It’s harder to learn those skills when your life is completely managed for you.
The choices we make don’t always reflect our desire for them to grow towards independence. Some parents constantly hover over their kids and control every aspect of their lives. Parents are living in fear of perceived threats to their children’s safety and the kids’ lives are being micromanaged as a result.
I’ve seen this carry over into the college years where these children are technically adults, whether the parents like that or not. If you want your kids to be happier, simply. We need to lessen our grip on trying to control every aspect of our kids’ lives on an ongoing basis so that they can move towards independence.
We’ve put too much stress and pressure on ourselves manufacturing control we ultimately don’t have. It’s a process and not an easy one. We need to work toward building trust and encouraging independent and critical thinking as they make decisions.
There will be failures. Missteps will happen, but it’s better for them to learn as they grow rather than ending up as young adults who have no idea how to function in the world because they were never permitted to.
If you want your kids to be happier simplify their lives while also teaching them responsibility. It’s importat to model responsibility and let them have more freedom and opportunities to practice being responsible as they get older.
How to simplify
If you want your kids to be happier simplify their lives using these 5 steps.
Determine your priorities
Have a parent meeting and decide what your priorities are for your children. What values are most important to you? What do you think childhood should look like?
Review your schedule
Does your child’s schedule reflect your priorities? If you think it’s important for them to have free time is there room in their schedule for that?
This is where you’ve got to get good at saying no. Don’t let their schedule get so overfilled with great things that there is no longer margin.
Create appropriate boundaries with their schedule and decide on an acceptable number of activities for any given season.
Declutter your home
Does your kid have too many toys? Has the household been stressed with trying to maintain too much stuff?
If so, start by decluttering your own things to set the example. Then, declutter with your kids. Have them help decide what stays and what goes in their room.
Create a space where they can relax and enjoy what they have more without being overwhelmed with excess.
Change your habits
Work through starting new habits to keep the clutter from returning. First work on your own habits to set the example and then encourage your kids to do the same. Put things away immediately to prevent clutter from stacking back up.
Also, examine how the clutter is coming into the home in the first place. You may need to look at your own shopping habits as well as have conversations with family members about your goals in simplifying.
Request clutter-free gifts so that you aren’t continually dealing with a new round of clutter entering your home.
Reassess and review
Periodically it’s helpful to review your priorities for your children and reassess how things are going. Are your schedule and home continuing to reflect your goals? How is screen time going?
Are the kids spending enough unstructured time playing outdoors? Make sure the screentime boundaries you set are working for you. Continue to check-in and make sure you are still working towards the priorities and goals that you set.
We all want to raise well-adjusted healthy adults and parents, this is why you need to simplify. Let’s continue to make sure we’re striking the right balance in our lives and not allowing or enabling excess when it’s negatively impacting our children. Sometimes less is more.
If you enjoyed this post, check out the two other posts in this series:
- Want to be a less stressed mom? Simplify your life
- Want to be a more connected family? Simplify your lives
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