What Kids Do in Their Spare Time

From my observations of our adult children, many of their current interests and giftings reflect the way they spent their time growing up.  The ones who worked on bikes became master bike mechanics who have used this skill to minister to college students.  The one who played the piano through the hymnal became a public school music teacher.  The one who took photos became an amazing professional photographer. 
 
And then there’s the one who created lifelike guns out of wood, paint and glue—and now carries a real gun to work every day.
 
Ever since our older children were young, we’ve had some family guidelines for Productive Free Time.  In other words, there were “approved” activities for free time after school in the afternoons and on weekends. 
 
At first we had a written list but after a while everyone got a feel for what worked and eventually it became second nature.  The younger children grew up with the framework so it became a part of their experience from birth.
 
The main objective was to prevent wasting too much time on pursuits that were, well, a waste of time.  Excessive video games, TV watching, and phone calls come to mind.  Current society has created a new challenge of excessive texting among children and teens.
 
Here’s a list of activities that we would consider to be productive:
 
Legos, blocks and other building toys
Drawing
Reading
Playing a musical instrument
Woodworking
Playing outside
Fixing bikes or equipment
Crafts
Sewing
Board games
Toys (usually if they’re a waste of time, they won’t play them long)
Building a structure outside
Building a structure inside (like a tent with blankets and chairs)
Pet care and play
Pretend play (playing house, pretending to be animals, etc.)
Cooking
Picnics
 
Recently our two youngest girls used Bendaroos (wax-covered, shapeable string) to make spoon people, complete with a basket that opened to reveal a baby spoon:
 
The same Bendaroos also become hats, jewelry and other accessories for little PetShops figures:
 
Notice that Mom didn’t give instructions for this type of creative play.  They came up with it on their own, strengthening their problem-solving and thinking skills at the tender ages of 6 and 8.
 
If you haven’t had guidelines for free time before there might be an adjustment period.  
 
The guidelines are not meant to be rules about what they have to do.  The acceptable activities should reflect their interests and the materials should be provided in an easily accessible place.  Seeing a spread of brand new markers, fresh paper, glue, glitter and paint is usually enough to get the creative juices flowing.
 
Creativity is messy.  Expect things to get scattered.  Put up with the blanket fort for a day or two.  Allow the PetShops village to remain on the dining room table for a few days.  I promise they won’t make that mess when they’re thirty.  Childhood is a very short season.
 
When they leave for college or move into their own apartment, you can release them to spend their free time however they want.  But as long as they live in your house and you pay the bills, you can have guidelines for how they spend their time. 
 
Those guidelines might shape some of their fondest childhood memories.   And what they do in their spare time could end up pointing them in the direction of their future.

Similar Posts

11 Comments

  1. Good morning!  I couldn’t agree more!  Your list of “approved activities” sounds very familiar.  It’s nice to hear about other families doing similar things.

  2. When I ‘quit working’ out on the truck with my husband, to stay home and answer the business phone AND homeschool our then two boys, I was shocked that they couldn’t creative play! It didn’t take long. :o) And my daughter who has never been in daycare or school has an unbridled imagination. Very Cool!

  3. My husband and I noticed a lot of people (Parents and kids) with their cell phones out the other night when we went out to eat.  There didn’t seem to be very much talking going on – everybody was paying more attention to their device.  If the parents are on the phone or texting, what example is that setting for the kids?

  4. Excellent reminder, Charlotte! Makes me see a few areas we have been lax in, especially since I went back to work outside the home. Thanks!

  5. Trying to find powerful online marketing that isn’t full of BS? Sorry to bug you on your contact form but actually that was kinda the point. We can send your promotional text to sites through their contact pages just like you’re reading this note right now. You can target by keyword or just start mass blasts to websites in the location of your choice. So let’s assume you would like to blast an ad to all the interior decorators in the US, we’ll scrape websites for only those and post your ad text to them. As long as you’re advertising a product or service that’s relevant to that business category then your business will get an amazing response!

    Send a quick message to evie2535gre@gmail.com to get info and prices

  6. Need to find powerful advertising that has no per click costs and will get you new customers fast? I apologize for sending you this message on your contact form but actually that’s exactly where I wanted to make my point. We can send your ad text to sites through their contact pages just like you’re reading this message right now. You can target by keyword or just fire off bulk blasts to sites in the country of your choice. So let’s assume you need to send a message to all the contractors in the USA, we’ll scrape websites for only those and post your promo to them. As long as you’re advertising a product or service that’s relevant to that niche then you’ll receive an awesome result!

    Shoot an email to jacob3640wod@gmail.com for the details

  7. Greetings, I was just visiting your site and filled out your feedback form. The contact page on your site sends you messages like this via email which is the reason you’re reading through my message right now correct? This is half the battle with any type of advertising, getting people to actually READ your ad and that’s exactly what I just accomplished with you! If you have an advertisement you would like to promote to lots of websites via their contact forms in the US or anywhere in the world let me know, I can even focus on particular niches and my charges are very reasonable. Shoot me an email here: lethamidurr@gmail.com

  8. Good morning, I was just on your website and submitted this message via your feedback form. The “contact us” page on your site sends you these messages to your email account which is why you are reading through my message at this moment right? This is half the battle with any type of online ad, getting people to actually READ your advertisement and that’s exactly what I just accomplished with you! If you have an ad message you would like to blast out to thousands of websites via their contact forms in the US or anywhere in the world let me know, I can even target your required niches and my prices are very reasonable. Send a reply to: Phungcorsi@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.