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Monday, October 17, 2005

When I became a parent, I retired my purse (for a massive diaper bag), my personal space, my sex drive, privacy, sleep, stain-free clothing, and a stretch-mark-free body.

What I got was an opportunity to teach my kid about the world, one boring task at a time. Toddler in Chief fits into my life the way my cell phone fits into the inside pocket of my diaper bag--snugly, the way it was intended. That means I do all the stuff I used to do, only I have a babbling sack of potatoes at my side.

When he was just a couple of months old, friends started taking their kids to music class, gymnastics, art class, Gymboree, mom and me yoga, swim class, and parent-child co-op programs, like Little Wonders. It was like they'd been programmed to believe that if they don't launch their kids into these structured classes, they'd miss out on critical learning opportunities.

The entire world is new to a baby! Banging on pots and pans to the beat of The Postal Service while I make dinner is probably better than the official and expensive music class. Plus I get dinner made, so benefits are two-fold. Some friends signed their child up for one or two weekly classes, which is a great way to get out of the house. Others booked themselves (ahem, I mean their kids) so heavily that they have a scheduled activity morning and afternoon every weekday, making it impossible to book a good, old-fashioned play date.

Too much structure is bad for parents because they will go insane carting the kids from activity to activity. It's bad for kids because they won't have time to explore their own imagination. Boredom is good for kids. I also believe that over-scheduling your child teaches them to be self-centered. If every day's schedule is dictated by the child's activities, then they will learn that the world has been built for their benefit and that mom is nothing but a cabby.

Toddler in Chief does what I do, and sharing my life with him is the most educational and rewarding class of all. He learns about the world because he's along for the ride, not in spite of that fact.

Permalink | Activity Overload | Comments (7)


Oh, I so agree! My little girl (20 months) goes along with me and is just around me as I do things. when she was smaller, she would play on the floor at my feet as I cook (the one cupboard in the kitchen that is open to her has all the plastic containers and baking dishes, i just rewash them before I use them). Now that she's older, she either amuses herself or gets up on a stool beside me as I do the dishes or cook. It may take a bit longer to complete what I'm doing, but we are also having fun interacting. Because this has always been the way, she doesn't even know what bored is yet. And I agree that boredom is important, I remember when my sister and I were bored is when we did some of our most creative things. Sorry for the long comment, but this is something I feel strongly about.

Posted by: Carabeth | Oct 17, 2005 5:11:23 PM


"Yes honey?"

"I'm bored."

"Here, change the baby's diaper."

"That's okay Daddy, I'm not bored anymore."

Posted by: Genuine | Oct 18, 2005 10:37:56 AM

But, if they could just share my life in a little more stationary manner every now and then...

Posted by: Busy Mom | Oct 18, 2005 12:40:10 PM

Totally with you on this-- they don't need a bunch of structured activities.

They are children! Soon enough they will be in school and then they'll have more structure than--well they'll have more structure.

The point is when we were kids, we got to play. That's how they learn and grow and develop. Just let them play!

Posted by: sleepingmommy | Oct 18, 2005 3:51:56 PM

This activity based life is somewhat attributed to Urban environments I think. When I first moved to Chicago area I had never heard of Kindermusik, Gymboree, or Little Wonders. My mom just got together with the other moms in the neighborhood--if that--to provide some playtime for me. It was called, Here's-A-Playmate-Now-Go-And-Do-Something. :-) There are days I SO want to pull that card with the little guy--and do!

Posted by: bethany | Oct 18, 2005 7:33:00 PM

I agree with you. But because I had my second child only 17 months after my first, I can't go to classes that require parent participation. So I sometimes wonder if I only had the one, would I be going to more Mommy & Me-type events? I might be.

Posted by: Mary | Oct 20, 2005 12:21:09 PM

Yeah, I'm not into the classes. You end up get developmental advice from people who don't know what they're talking about.

Posted by: MIM | Oct 23, 2005 4:43:16 PM

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