Doing nothing isn’t something we allow children to do very often. Culture tells us we can’t afford to waste time. Our children must be learning something or be in a class of some type.
Well, recall how often culture is wrong. A recent study demonstrated that adults who walked a mere 20 minutes in nature reduced stress hormones. It’s kind of silly we needed a scientific experiment to prove to us what God already knew—His world of trees, streams, birds, and bees is good for us.
The fresh air and the open spaces cause us to breath deeper, look up, and dream. The songs of the birds and the hum of the bees remind us we are not alone. The wind in the trees moves at a pace and a rhythm which brings down our heart rate and our blood pressure. We slow to the speed of nature.
If this works for adults, why wouldn’t it also be true of children? If we weren’t keeping our children safely tucked away in our homes, would they be outside? If we turned off the electronics, would they play in the yard?
I know we’re all worried about safety and children can’t roam as they did when I was a child. If we allowed that, we’d be reported to the authorities for neglect. But, I’m afraid we’ve gone too far in that direction. We don’t even allow them to have free time in the yard, for heaven’s sake.
Yards can be reclaimed and fenced so children can play. Swing sets can be installed and sand pits built. Mud kitchens or areas for chalk drawing can be designed. These things do not take much money or time—but commitment.
An iPad or an electronic game system costs hundreds of dollars. The games $50+ each. The amount we spend on internet access and entertainment packages runs in the thousands per year. Compare these costs with a swing set or a backyard fort.
The electronics will not—and I guarantee this—make your child healthy. Absolutely will not. Sedentary lifestyles, even in children, lead to muscle weakness and poor endurance, not to mention obesity and increased risk of diabetes. Add to that eye strain and mental health issues. Yeah, not worth it. And here’s the kicker, you paid for it!
Fresh air is free. The sounds of the breeze and the bees are also free. A hammock or a swing hanging from a limb will cost less than $50. But, the dreams your child will have and the freedom to relax are priceless.
Nature, God’s world, lifts our spirits and heals our anxieties. Please get those children outside at least 20 minutes per day and let them play as they desire. Structured play, as in PE or organized team sports, is not relaxing. Repeat. These are not relaxing because there is performance anxiety associated with them.
Just let the kids do nothing ‘ cause nothing is something. Free time is not a waste.
(Photo by Pixabay)