Less and More – Letting your kids be kids

by Andy Amick on November 2, 2011

in Path to Less

The Less and More posts break down a problem or goal into two simple actions – one to do less of and one to do more of.  So far the posts have been centered on cycling, but this one is about kids and family.


On to today’s topic – Letting your kids be kids and have fun.

Less Structure

 Less science More riding

More Creative Time

I know it’s easier said than done, but our kids can blossom when we get out of their way and let their very creative minds take over.

The idea for this post comes from an article Mitch Albom wrote for Parade Magazine titled “The Joys of Summer“.  He reminds us of how having less structure could be the best option:

“I can make the case for doing nothing all summer. That’s right. Nothing. I know it won’t advance your kids’ career objectives or improve their SAT scores. 

But it might be good for them.

When I think of my childhood summers, I remember lying in the grass, hands behind my head, feeling the blades dig into my fingers. I studied the clouds. I joked with my friends. None of us wore watches.”


Kids don’t need to have every minute of their day filled with planned activities.  Sure, sports and music and other activities are important.  But give a child a chance and they can take a leaf, small box, and a stick, and dream up anything from a pirate ship to full Star Wars adventure.


Or sit and watch as they turn a little water, some dirt, and a few rocks into an afternoon show that would easily put Water World to shame.


As I was beginning to write this post, Leo Babauta posted the “Rules of Effortless Parenting” which covers a wider range of parenting topics and does it in a much better style than I could do.  His list might well become one that I review regularly to keep myself on the right track.


I have been guilty of over-structuring my kid’s time, and I have lately been missing the fun time we used to have wrestling on the floor, goofing around in the garage, or playing silly games in the backyard.  It’s a struggle to keep the free time, especially with all the structure we see on a daily basis, but we owe it to our kids to let them be kids from time to time.


What kind of imaginative things have your kids dreamed up lately?

How do you manage to keep unstructured time for your kids?


About Andy Amick
A little bit nutty in general, a lotta bit nutty about bikes. Each of his boys received a bike helmet for their first birthday and the three of them have been biking together ever since.

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