Monday, January 28, 2008

What Do You Do About Downtime?

When I was homeschooling, one of my biggest problems was what to do with the kids during "downtime". You know, that time after the school and "kid" chores are done, and before the afternoon activities start (between 11:30 and 3:30).

Why would I ask this now, as my kids have been in school for the last month? Several reasons. 1. Snow days (which we have had quite a few of) 2. Summer 3. If I ever decide to homeschool again, this issue WILL need to be dealt with. (I should have asked this question a long time ago.)

As I go about my daily chores, my kids gravitate toward the TV, or video games. It seems like such a pathetic waste of time. I am just NOT one of those moms who can get her kids to work on chores all afternoon. I bring out the books, and color crayons, but those seem to be short term fixes. Gosh I guess I'm just not that creative.

So, what do you do to keep your kids constructively busy. Whether it be during your homeschool day, or the summer months. I really DO want your help here!


Melissa Stover said...

actually my kids just play. i force them to go outside on nice days (vitamin d and exercise), but on bad days they can play in their rooms or read. those are their choices. while i have downtime. there's not tv in the bedroom but my oldest has a p2p so she plays that sometimes. but they really enjoy playing together and often have an idea in mind before lessons are through.

Mrs. Darling said...

We dont have a lot of down time around here in the school months but in the summer its a different story. My kids play outside a LOT! We have a woods across the street that all the kids build forts in and play in. They bike, ride their scooters, play basketball and soccer with the neighbor kids, etc.

For what little time they do have in their own pusuits in the winter you often find Tink dancing to cd's. Thats her favorite pasttime. Peter is only just turning 7 so he still spends lots of time playing with his trucks. Right now its Tinker Toys! He plays with them every day. Tink and Peter alos play a lot of borad games together. We have a continual stream of kids coming and going so I really never even give down times a second thought.

I do worry though in the summer a lot. Sometimes its just to hot to play and the kids get sick of swimming so all they want to do is veg.

Stacey said...

....XBox. Is this wrong?

Your kids were done with school and chores by 11:30? Gosh, we're hardly even starting by 10, I'm leaving this blog feeling inadequate. Very. xoxo

Nessa said...

Kids will find ways to entertain themselves if you let them.

javamamma said...

I'm interested in seeing the comments. I've had this exact thought. My kids spend 15-30 min. on the computer almost everyday (each kid). We don't really watch TV. I struggle with WANTING to sit down and play with them- I don't and they seem OK with that most of the time but is it OK that they are generally left to their own demise?

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

Seriously. If it will not kill them to be out there (i.e. tornado warning), then that's where you'll find them.
That is my time to recapture an ounce of sanity, too.

CrossView said...

I pull out the time consuming craft stuff that always involves paint.
Like bricks to go around each child's garden that they painted to match their rooms.
Or terra cotta planters that they draw a design on, then paint, then plant in.
Stuff that we don't normally do so they consider it a treat...
And only after they've exhausted all other means of entertainment! =P

EEEEMommy said...

Pretty much, what chickadee said. My comment was growing to long, so I posted a response on my blog

Emily said...

Well, my girls are pretty easy in that they seem to gravitate towards 'play'. ie polly pockets, building giant forts, school, fair...etc.

My son? He would spend his entire life watching movies, tv, computer. Anything electronic...he wants to do it.

My best days are when I forbid him to do anything electronic and he actually picks up a book and reads it. He ususally ends up happy and I am TOTALLY happy. Cause he used his brain a tad bit.

He only likes to wander around outside if someone is with him to toss a football or hunt for some critter. Being the only boy, he has it way harder. I feel a lack in that area.

Good luck. If people say that they don't struggle w/ it, they're lying.

yeah, I said lying.

Anonymous said...

We don't have a TV but my kids love to be on the computer. If they had their way they would play computer games all the time. So, we decided that the kids would earn computer minutes by doing their chores without being reminded and by getting their school work done by a certain time. That varies with each child according to their learning needs. Each child has the ability to earn 12 minutes of computer time a day, six for school and six for chores. I sometimes will give them extra minutes for a job well done or dock them minutes for bad attitudes. That way they have limited computer time, and if they don't have minutes are forced to find something else to do. My oldest loves to save his minutes up - he just spent an hour and a half on the computer.

I try to sit down and play a game with each of the boys at least twice a week.

It has been too cold to force the kids to play outside for extended periods of time, but it is starting to warm up - I think our highs made it to the 30s this week! I find that I have to force the kids the first couple of weeks to go outside but then it is hard to keep them in.

My kids also like to bake. So my eight year old has gotten good at making dinner rolls!

My kids also spend a lot of time reading non school books of their own choosing.

My middle two are really into Legos and literally spend hours on that. They also are good at playing games with each other. I don't hear I'm bored very often.


Robin said...

I usually just let my kids play. sometimes I got them started on playing something out of the ordinary-gave them a new idea, but they could be so creative and loved it!

Brownie said...

I have two children - and I'm nearing very, very quickly - 50. My two babes are 10 and 3.

I don't worry about downtime. Maybe I should. I figure they have to learn to entertain themselves because often I'm just too tired! We start school around 10am - she can get it finished by noon. She plays piano alot. and reads and just goofs around. Red is just busy being 3.

I figure they're only kids once - as long as they're safe, not getting in trouble... .I'm not going to structure down time.... heck - I can hardly structure school time!

I very much enjoyed reading your blog!

Anonymous said...

When I was very young, we didn't have television. When we finally got it, there were few shows on and a lot of dead time where the television, if turned on, looked like snow. It was really a novelty and when used, it was a family event, not something to keep boredom at bay.

When I was a kid, we used our imaginations (a lot). I remember being engrossed in digging a hole to China (for days!) We would put our ears to the ground and convince each other that we could hear people speaking Chinese. I remember building a city for fairies to live in. I remember looking for four leaf clovers for hours on end. I remember hop scotch, jacks, marbles, and jumpropes.

I remember mud pies, daisy chains, and setting a trap to catch squirrels (never did catch one but almost did a few times). We made bug hospitals and I remember playing hide and seek with all the kids in the neighborhood after dark on warm summer evenings. I remember snow forts, sledding, and snowball fights.

When it was too cold to be outside, I remember listening to the radio (They didn't have talk shows but they had comedy skits and stories and I could close my eyes and listen to more than just music). I wrote poetry and stories, we created plays and put together circus acts. I still remember painting baloons black to look like huge barbells and making a lion's mane out of an old dust mop my mom had.

We spread a blanket over the dining room table and made a fort. We took all the cushions off the furniture and pretended they were boats floating on a sea of carpet. We took an old mattress and spent hours sliding down the basement stairs on it. It was just as fun as sledding and much warmer. Cardboard boxes were turned in to cars, airplanes and doll houses.

As I got older, I learned to bake cookies and bread and took them to neighbors. I had embroidery projects that I could work on. I put models together and painted them. We pretended we were secret agents and left secret messages for each other. Oddly enough, one of the last times I went home for a reunion, we talked about this and checked our hiding place and found the last (secret agent) message we had created still in that spot.

All of these things were done with a sense of wonder. Anything was possible when I was a child.

Television, the internet, and video games have changed all that. Our children are being forced to grow up too fast and because they are inundated with "reality" they aren't being given a chance to develop their imagination. I think it's kind of tragic that our children can't think of anything to do if it doesn't entail something that entertains them. Instead, they should be learning to entertain themselves.

What's really sad is that if you mention most of these activities to kids today, they will turn their noses up and say that it doesn't sound fun to them. That's what a loss of innocense does.

Well, enough from an old woman, I'm going to step off my soapbox and go visit my fairy village.

~Rhen @yestheyareallmine said...

We go outside and take a hike through the woods, we do a scavenger hunt, we paint, arts and crafts, draw, play doh, read, I encourage them to write short stories, do puzzles, games, and riding bikes. My kids play resteraunt together or grocery store. They also like to play on the tire swing or the monkey bars or soccer in the yard. We are outside or creating works of art a lot. Each of the kids are also learning to play a musical instrument so they practice. That is some of what we do. HTH :)

His Girl said...

we don't have an official 'down time' of the day... but if the kids start pestering me for something to do, we (the girls and I)will usually pull out magazines & catalogs... they will spend hours cutting and gluing. When they were small, they did pages of 'art'- now that they are eight, they do notebooks full of dreams. one may be all the cats they want to have some day (yes, one of mine dreams to have a cat rescue) or all the parties they would like to throw (that's my social butterfly) there are many variances on the theme, but it sure keeps them happy and stimulated without electronic devices!

now, my son who is 12, he has stopped asking me. if he's not busy, he'd be just as content to just lay down and do nothing. UGH! the preteen sloth!

great post and question... can't wait to see if you get more answers :)

Halfmoon Girl said...

You and Emily made me feel better. We have lots of craft stuff around but you know how it is when there are younger ones around as well... We have paint splatter on our ceiling from the last time that I thought a simple art time could happen without constant supervision...
I, like Emily, find it best when I let the kids know in no uncertain terms that there will be no electronics and then they seem to find other things to do. My oldest two seem to come to the door fighting or asking for food or something every 10 minutes if I send them outside, but I still do. One day I hope to be sucessful in that area! I have started threatening to put them to work scrubbing toilets if they complain about being bored. So, basically, I haven't given you a lot of ideas, have I? My kids love reading, so that is WONDERFUL. I always have found that a hose keeps them busy in the summer, if I ignore the fighting because someone sprayed so and so, etc, etc.