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Finding the Downtime Balance

For many families in the Love and Logic Universe, a holiday break is approaching which will create chunks of time when kids are in the house (not at school and for many, not spending much time outside) for extended periods.

For some households, this is cause for rejoicing. For others, it can pose some challenges. How long until the kids get bored and start having problems? How much time will they spend on video entertainment and how will that affect their moods? How badly will their sleep schedules get thrown off and how difficult will it be to get them ready to return to ‘normal’?

Downtime can be good for humans. There is even some evidence to support the idea that getting bored can be good for kids’ creative brains. There are physical and mental health benefits to truly resting (about one sixth or one seventh of the time). Sadly, many kids' ‘rest’ consists of unhealthy behaviors such as highly stimulating and violent video games.

Some families schedule a lot of activities during these times. Other families let it be a free-for-all. There is always a balance and we all get to use our judgment and common sense to decide how much structure vs free time is healthy for our families. 

But, since we are the Love and Logic Institute, here are a few suggested guidelines:

1. Err on the side of ‘stillness’

Not every moment has to be filled with stimulation or activity.

Some of our most magical holiday memories include sitting around with extended family and friends, listening to music, playing cards or board games and just talking with one another. Dr. Charles Fay often speaks of the value of ‘Relational Stillness’ – sacred times to just be together without much activity or electronic stimulus. It may be difficult to assess the value of these times while they are happening – but trust us – they will be cherished one day!

2. Err on the side of togetherness

There will likely be moments during the holidays when kids (or adults) will want to isolate. Especially in a house full of guests. And, of course, some amount of alone time is healthy, especially for those with more introverted personality types. However, when possible, experiment with reading that book in the room with the family. If you’re going to take a walk, get some other family members to go with you. Someone is running to the store? Take some kids along (and give them appropriate jobs of finding or carrying items). The bottom line – avoid excessive time where kids or adults are alone in rooms, staring at screens. The times we can really be together will be gone before we know it.

If you are like us, you look back with fondness at times when loved ones gathered and were just together. Just present with one another. We hope you and your kids will experience this special gift during the Holiday season.

 

Jedd Hafer

Love and Logic Podcast