Why Downtime Is Crucial for Your Child’s Schedule
We all need time to unwind — even kids. With so many school obligations to complete and after-school activities to attend, downtime becomes vital. If you’ve never considered your child’s schedule or are concerned that your kid is overscheduled, it’s time to think about downtime. Learn why downtime is crucial for your child’s schedule below, along with how to identify an overscheduled child and ways to add downtime into their routine.
Is Your Child Overscheduled?
When it comes to busy schedules, adults aren’t the only ones with too much to do. An overscheduled child is involved in plenty of clubs, sports and activities. From the second their school day begins to the end of the day, overscheduled kids are constantly doing something. Involving your kid in multiple extracurricular activities is done with the best intentions. But sometimes, you could be putting too much on their plate. Constant practices, games, competitions, studying, homework and family obligations pack a schedule and leave no room for downtime.
Still not sure if this applies to your child? An overscheduled child could experience these effects:
- Overly organized schedules: If your child has a strict calendar or daily schedule to adhere to, they could be overscheduled. You may find yourself rushing your child from one activity to the next or setting reminders to go to practices and meetings.
- Poor sleeping habits: Kids with busy schedules may not sleep well. Whether they’re missing out on sleep by trying to get everything done or losing sleep due to stress, it could be a sign of a stressful schedule.
- Poor school performance: Children who do too much outside of school may not have time to dedicate to their studies. They may be too stressed due to a lack of downtime to concentrate in class or on their studies.
Having too much to do doesn’t just impact teenagers or older kids, either. Parents of overscheduled toddlers may try to perform excessive learning activities in one day instead of letting their young children play.
Importance of Downtime for Your Child
Downtime is simply time to relax. It’s a time when your child doesn’t have to be anywhere or do anything. An overscheduled child will have fewer moments for downtime, which can be detrimental in many ways. Their physical and mental health may suffer, as can their social and school lives. The importance of downtime for your child includes its ability to help:
- Eliminate stress: Our brains need time to pause and relax. Downtime makes kids step away from obligations and schoolwork to think about nothing or engage in fun activities, reducing stress. Relaxing lets kids do things they want to do rather than what they have to do for a bit.
- Improve sleep: Sleep, in a way, is a form of downtime. And when kids have time during the day to relax, it can calm their minds to help them fall asleep later in the day. They won’t have to stay up to get assignments done due to an overloaded schedule. And they won’t stay up late to get in relaxation and downtime they missed out on earlier.
- Improve school performance: With more relaxation and less stress comes the chance to do better in school. Kids can navigate a freed-up schedule to accommodate for homework and study time. They may also concentrate better in school if they’re not tired or stressed.
- Give time for family and friends: When kids have downtime, they get the chance to socialize with friends or family. That’ll contribute toward improving social skills and reducing stress. They’ll learn skills like cooperation, problem-solving, patience and different ways of interacting with others.
- Teach kids to prioritize their time: Getting to relax teaches your child to value their time, even their downtime. They’ll prioritize their schedules to include relaxation time and experience less burnout. Kids can also learn not to say yes to every activity, club or event. They will recognize that their time is valuable, even the time they spend relaxing.
- Inspire creativity and free play: Unstructured play involves no schedule or guidelines for what a kid should do. If kids play during their downtime, they’ll use their creativity and imaginations. This can also improve their problem-solving and decision-making skills.
- Provide physical activity: Physical activity during downtime can reinforce some of the above benefits. It can reduce stress and help kids’ sleep schedules. Kids could also experience an improved mood when they exercise.
How to Create Downtime for Kids
How you implement relaxation time will depend on your child, your schedule and other factors. Get started with these ways to create downtime for kids:
1. Create a Reasonable Schedule
Freeing up your child’s schedule is the best way to eliminate overscheduling. As a bonus, you get to free up your calendar when you don’t have to rush your kid from event to event. To create a realistic schedule for your overscheduled child, you can:
- Avoid having obligations every day: If your child’s current schedule involves practices, games or events every day, it might be time to scale back. Go through your child’s calendar and see how many free days or hours they have within a week. During the summer, kids benefit from three weeks of downtime for every one week of intense activity or camps. Try to keep a one-to-one ratio of downtime and activities during the school year.
- Choose three activities: A simple way to create a reasonable schedule is to limit your child’s activities. Sit down with them and discuss what hobbies, sports or clubs they have the most interest in. If they have trouble eliminating activities, talk with leaders of the clubs and sports to see if your child can adjust their schedule. Perhaps they could miss a meeting now and then or make up the time somehow.
- Prioritize your time: You may have to make compromises with your child as you create a less demanding schedule. Consider your time and theirs. If you spend a lot of time driving to and from a club or sporting event, it may be an activity worth dropping. Commutes are necessary for certain activities, but longer drives can take up your child’s precious free time.
2. Let Them Play
One way to combat overscheduling is to avoid putting relaxation time on a calendar. Don’t force your kid to play, socialize or be creative. Instead, let them play or relax when it seems they need a break. Whatever they want to do during their downtime can help them relax. Just try to avoid falling back on screen time as a way for kids to unwind.
As a parent or teacher, you’ll have to carefully balance this time with productivity. Some kids need more motivation than others to get back to work after downtime. Teach kids the importance of balancing a schedule and doing homework or studying after relaxing.
3. Get Outside
Spending time outside during downtime does double-duty for relieving stress. Being surrounded by nature is relaxing, and there are plenty of ways for kids to head outdoors and have downtime. Encourage outdoor downtime and:
- Let kids play in the yard: This form of unstructured play lets kids use their imaginations. Playing outside for downtime is especially fun with family or friends, and other kids can make a more imaginative play session together.
- Take a walk as a family: Whether you visit a walking trail or take a walk around your neighborhood, walking together is excellent downtime for everyone. If you can, choose a nature preserve or natural area opposed to a bustling area with other people, lights and buildings that can cause distraction.
- Ride bikes or scooters together: Combine physical activity with downtime and fun. Hop on whatever sets of wheels you and your child can ride. Cruise around a natural area or your neighborhood for a quick way to relax.
- Visit a local park or playground: Playgrounds are full of engaging activities for kids to use during their downtime. A visit to a local park can get your child involved in their community and socializing. Or, if no one else is visiting, your kid could explore and activate their imagination.
Create Downtime for Kids With Playworld Playgrounds
If you’re looking to create a playground to give students downtime, Playworld can help. For decades, we’ve made playground components aimed at helping kids have fun during their downtime. Our multigenerational playground equipment suits early childhood and school-age kids. Make recess more exciting or downtime visits to the park more worthwhile with components from Playworld.
Contact Playworld today to discover how we can help redesign or enhance your playground!