Remember "free time"? I don't just mean time before kids, I mean as kids. My mother was never a particular fan of this idea of non structured, often unsupervised play time, so when we did get it as kids what a treat!!
I have started to notice how much emphasis there is right now on organized sports and groups. As a mom who will start homeschooling next month these kinds of organized events are wonderful for my son to maintain his current friendships and socialization. But I must admit I feel a sense of loss at diminished free time.
As a kid I would use this rare time to do things others might see as a waste (read my favorite book for the seventh time, set up a "store" in my bedroom and insist my sisters "shop" it or goof around and play dress up even after I became too old for it.) Yet, upon reflection, maybe it wasn't such a waste of time. Maybe learning to take comfort in books as I would friends has helped me through some of my lonelier years. Maybe setting up my "store" inspired my entrepreneurial streak Maybe dress up was a great way for me to interact with my sisters- since organized sports and groups are often divided by age we almost never interacted through said sports/groups.
And here's another undeniable plus to free time- it should be free! If you're paying for free time activities (for yourself or the kids) then its entertainment, not free time. Free time can consist of things like colouring, backyard play, reading, puzzles/games, sibling or peer imagination play, exploration of music and musical instruments, drawing, building. All no cost options.
Free time is not TV time. Free time is about teaching your children to learn about what they like, (heck, teaching yourself about what you like!) It allows children to grow into people that do not always depend on others to entertain, amuse, or comfort them. Its about building independence and leadership.
Organized sports/ groups/ clubs are great, and I encourage you to explore them for yourself or the kids to find if there are any that fit your family goals, schedule and interests. They foster teamwork, sportsmanship and rule following.
But don;t forget, gentle readers, that everyone needs a little time to figure out how they want to play without being told how they should play.