I recently had the wonderful opportunity to travel with my family ~ a round trip from Perth to Exmouth.  The trip took us a total of 16 days beginning in the seaside town of Rockingham and ending up in Exmouth ~ only to start all over again for our return journey to Perth!  It was, to say the least a great blessing to be on the road with my favourite people, in one of my favourite places.  As some of you may well know, WA is vast and suffice to say, the driving distances can mean being on the road for hours on end.  A harrowing prospect for the parents of a 3 year old!  A quick (and suspicious) flip of the coin by my husband and I ended up in the back of the van with our highly energised monkey and a bag full of (uninteristing) activities.  Being the kind of person that I am, I had completely over compensated and spent hours putting together travel friendly activities for the journey.  (Pinterest be thy friend).  As it turns out someone had a different idea…
Its not often we get time to stop and watch the world go by… but when we do it’s what we choose do with it that makes all the difference.  The “doing part” is a contradiction in terms I understand, but it really was up to me to actively choose to “do nothing” with my daughter.  Because that is exactly what she needed from us ~ nothing.  And by “nothing” I mean ~ “my time” and my ability to BE “present”.  Choosing to just sit with her and stare out the window was well worth it.  Resisting the urge to prompt conversation, “doing nothing”  turned out to be the best parenting I’d done all year.  Turns out, the conversations that came from waiting and simply observing her take on the world were truly enlightening. But most importantly we laughed ~ A LOT.  Something we hadn’t been doing enough of.  These long days of laughing and playing silly games with rolled up pieces of paper or imaginary balloons helped all of us to regain some of our composure for the onslaught of the second half of the year and hopefully some insight into just how ridiculously busy we can choose to make our lives.

On chatting with a friend and colleague on our return it struck both of us how we are constantly urging our children to be busy, when in reality all they need is the reassurance of knowing that they have us and our undivided attention.  Are they constantly needing to be entertained or is it our need to be permanently using our time (and theirs) constructively? Or are we coming from a place of disconnect?  Unable to slow down ourselves are we projecting our need for overachieving onto our children?  Gone are the days of boredom being acceptable.  Boredom seems to be equated with laziness and by God I was going to make the most of our journey learning ABC’s and playing counting games.  On that note, I am forever grateful for the snubbing of my well thought out games.  What it did was open up some space within myself and between us as mother and daughter.  Space to breathe and possibly just not say “anything” but to say so much ~ all at once.
Finding balance within our busy lives is very important ~ not only for yourself but also for your little ones.  The importance of free play for our children is becoming more and more apparent.  The benefits are endless for simple, unstructured play.  Free play gives them   space to use their imagination and enjoy physical activity.  It’s no secret that with all the overscheduling most children are not getting enough time to themselves and neither are we!!  Here are some really important reasons for some much needed free play:
  1. Free play is an excellent opportunity for children to use their creative skills and to practice using their imagination and dexterity.
  2. It teaches children about social interaction and conflict resolution – without interference.
  3. To work on interacting with the world around them.
  4. It helps children to conquer fears and helps to build self esteem.
  5. Free play teaches children about team work and is beneficial in encouraging them to share.
  6. Free play helps children to practice their decision-making skills.
  7. The bonuses of physical activity are twofold ~ movement helps to build active, healthy bodies and it helps to prevent many prevalent, modern day childhood illnesses such as obesity and diabetes.
  8. Helps kids develop social and emotional ties ~ within the family nucleus and with other children.
  9. And the cherry on the cake ~ BECAUSE. IT’S. FUN.
Kim is a qualified Kinesiologist working with children and young adults.  For a consult with Kim at Northern Beaches clinic please contact www.nbip.com.au.  If you feel you or your child could do with a consult of you would like some further information please call us on 02 8406 0679 / 0459 309 029

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