Unscheduled time has its benefits

In a world of medical appointments, therapy visits, home programs and educational tutoring, sometimes, special, needs parents need reminders to play. To get down on the floor and have fun for the sake of having fun. To drift off in that special world in which imagination takes over and family fun takes precedent over all the other junk in our lives.

When the kids were young, I attempted the one activity per child, per season, rule. That worked until they got a little older.  Then I started to bend that rule. Did therapy count as the one activity-nope. Did tutoring count-nope. Coleman was a shy child and needed to learn to interact so did a weekly play group count-nope. Shandra was and is extremely intelligent. She needed enrichment, did she not?

Which activity is a parent to choose? Each activity takes time, uses energy, requires logistical effort, adds stress, and costs money. Evaluating the pros and cons of each request can really be mind numbing.

Some parents are crazy busy by choice.  Some are driven by necessity. Which activity to allow, which to negate? Parents need to trust themselves. All those books are not always the answer. You know your child.  I know mine. You are with your child twenty-four-seven. You know when they are tired, just gotten over an illness or are just needing a break.  Trust your gut!

Developing a healthy skepticism about required vs non-required tasks is key. Ask questions. A few months ago, Mel’s orthodontics wanted us to have her wisdom teeth removed to prevent her teeth from moving out of alignment. No options given; until I asked questions. Was this procedure vital to her adult well-being? After a few target questions and a little discussion, a permanent retainer was an adequate solution.

It really does not matter how educated a person is. Asking is the only way to know if an activity is really necessary or just a current recommendation. Trends are so TRENDY

When Mel was young, I attempted to avoid all medical appointments and therapy visits and educationally targeted tasks in December. Give me a break!  Was her world really going to fall apart if I waited a few more weeks to get that test or work on that skill. There are 365 days in a year and 30 of those belonged to the family. We only have one chance to be a parent. Give your child, your self and your family a break. Families matter, relationships matter. Special needs kids grow up just like their siblings.

Sometimes I needed to be reminded that it is ok to do nothing, to be unproductive, to get bored. Quiet moments can lead to meaningful discussions. Boredom to creativity. Unscheduled time is sometimes the best time to learn about your child’s inner thought. Play spontaneous games, ask silly questions, inquire about dreams. Next time an empty spot opens on the calendar, mark it off as a do nothing time and see what happens

Oh yea, it is December.  Time to make some memories  :)

3 thoughts on “Unscheduled time has its benefits

  1. I truly admire your parenting skills and despite the very tight routine you have in managing more than one child, you still have quality time for them. You’re
    really investing a lot in love. Many parents could learn so much from you. Thanks for sharing your experience as a parent.

  2. Thank you so much for this reminder. I have been given an opportunity for my children to see their cousins for an extended visit. My six year old doesn’t know any of them. It happens to be in the school year and I wanted to say no, but changed my mind. We are going for ten days. He is in first grade, and I can keep him up on his skills, since I am trained as a teacher myself. This is a great opportunity for my kids and I, even if it does med with routine for a bit.

  3. I have just found your blog having recently started up one of my own. My child is what you would class as ‘medically complex’ in addition to severe autism and several other issues. His play skills are limited (he is 8 yrs old), however this Christmas we bought him a simple wooden train set. He does not have the motor skills to do anything other than destroy it but with perseverance, we have got him to focus for at least half an hour on just watching us push the train around. It is hard work, it is repetitive and it is time consuming but to hear the giggles, to know that you have reached him.. it is oh so fulfilling. :-)

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