Raising Children and Productivity

Lindy is a young Mum to two energetic boys. Lindy’s house is orderly and tidy, and Lindy works part time in a local law firm. The boys go to Daycare when she is at work, and she reports they love the activities there. Even so, she ensures she makes up for the time away from them, by rewarding them with an extra special outing or activity, on the weekends.

Every day she keeps their young minds busy by taking them out to parks, playgrounds, recreational facilities or plays. They are rarely at home.  Twice a week, they are enrolled in Early Music tuition and next year they will join a junior football team. She is also considering Maths tutoring so that will have a head start on their peers, at school. Lindy wants them to grow up to be motivated and ambitious individuals, living life and experiencing the opportunities she missed during her childhood.

But is she doing the right thing for her boys?

Are the boys benefiting from all these scheduled activities?

Or are they being raised with the expectation that entertainment will be provided, each and every day?  Will they thrive on this daily dose of stimulation, or come to expect it as a birthright? Could they even become victims of information overload?

Some experts now think it’s essential for our mental well-being to make time to relax, unwind and do nothing. But, isn’t that a tad boring? Won’t the kids get into mischief? Do young children really need down time at all? And what about us? Do we really NEED some down time away from the “bling” of notification tones? What is the value of downtime, anyway?

Confucius has some words of wisdom: –

“Learning without reflection is a waste, reflection without learning is dangerous” – Confucius

As well as Confucius, Forbes offers some insights –

“Introspection and reflection have become lost arts” as we are unable to resist the temptation to ‘just finish this’ or ‘find out that.’

With vast amounts of information at our fingertips, who needs to memorize facts at all?

“Working harder is not necessarily working smarter. In fact  slacking off and setting aside regular periods of ‘doing nothing’ may be the best thing we can do to induce states of mind that nurture our imagination and improve our mental health. “


Does free-time sound appealing to you? Works for me. Schedule time for Feet up, drink in hand, and letting one’s mind free-wheel. Muting notifications of course.

I hope Lindy and her two boys are listening.

Something to Ponder About

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40 thoughts on “Raising Children and Productivity

  1. I’m definitely guilty of saying yes to too many things for Freya and I but I do make a conscious effort to give her some downtime. I think it’s really important, especially if it doesn’t involve screens.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can see that I am preaching to the converted, Tara. I feel sure that Freya will have just the right mix of activity and down time with you, as her Mum. And we mustn’t forget that we need that mental breathing space that down time gives us, as Mothers, as well.


  3. Great post! It seems these days that parents have their children scheduled to the hilt, but I’m a firm believer in letting children be children, letting them play and have freedom to explore their own creative solutions for how to spend their time. I think this freedom allows them to discover what draws them, where their interests lie, and to simply discover themselves. 🙂

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  4. Love this post which looks like a private message in disguise!
    Anyway I’m all for free time and learning with reflection!
    My 14-year old daughter doesn’t do half of what Lindy’s boys do. But I felt guilty I didn’t push more when she was younger.
    But hey… She is a happy, healthy, mainly “self-reliant” kid. So, it’s just enough for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fantastic post Amanda, and I couldn’t agree more. I feel so sorry for children who have a planned activity after every school day, and sometimes two or three things on each day of the weekend. Sports practice, dancing, theatre….. one of my friends was like that with her children as they grew up, then the kids grewup and suddenly she didn’t know what to do with herself. Her son fares well in life, her daughter not so well. The grandchildren on the daughters side are now living a life the mirror image of their mums, life. The grandchildren on the sons side are living a much more balanced life with only a couple of activities allowed each week – a bone of contention with nana who thinks they should be doing much more.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. All that effort in bringing up children. In the past, with larger families, kids looked after each other and parents left them to their own devices. It’s all a bit of pot luck really and …genes.

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  7. Oh gosh. It sounds exhausting. I was just reading a book which talked about grandchildren and how you get to do things with them, so you get to live your life twice! The mum is certainly doing that.


  8. a topic that some people worry too much about and others too little …; )
    Isn´t it true that there is no right way here? People are all different, adults as well as children. They have different needs, different talents and opportunities. The circumstances and environment in which they live are just as different.

    Only one thing is very clear to me that our world is becoming more and more complex and there is more and more to understand and learn …. for God’s sake no, the children do not have to learn everything … Parents, teachers and those responsible for the curricula should think about this … it is in my opinion more important to teach children to cook so that they do not have a body that is sick and old at the age of 30 ( because they can only eat what is being ready to eat from supermarket.)
    My parents both worked, we were three children and never had a nanny or a full time school … we had to … or today I would say, we were allowed to help and learn. That’s how I did it with my kids. Of course I wished that they both make music and also do sports, but I never forced it. I supported it as long as it was fun and will support and praise it as long as they wish. Because both sports and music and other artistic activities are important pillars of life. My children decide for themselves how long and how much they learn or school. I do not interfere, and in return they enjoy showing me that this works. For me and my children that worked so fortunately well, for others, the same course can fail…of course!
    Confucius: Thinking without learning is dangerous: definitely, depression is preprogrammed!
    But is learning without reflection a waste? I do not agree with that completely. This is a view of a person who reflected a lot and in his opinion, is this understanding of the learned the most important.
    I was never a great thinker. Thinking and understanding was often too exhausting for me because it was too theoretical.
    An example: As a child, I had piano lessons for a year or two with a neighbor who was not a piano teacher but was able to play. I enjoyed it, but never learned how to read music or how to hold my fingers. We moved and I came to a music school to a very strict teacher. After the first hour, I was so frustrated that I never went back to piano lessons.
    But anyway, I kept on playing for myself, without learning to read music and without reflection just out of fun and emotions… it was not a waste for me.
    Of course, it’s great and desirable to reflect and understand, but not necessarily the most important for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Down time works for me Amanda! All that activity sounds exhausting and I’m not sure I think it’s all a good idea. I listened to a podcast about digital addiction recently and it really opened my eyes to issues the younger generation of new parents are dealing with, things that weren’t ever on my radar s a young mother. Now as a new grandmother I do worry about what’s in store! Very interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I agree, Debbie. The world is very different now. But perhaps our great grandparents thought the same about the TV, aeroplanes or space travel. Will the next generations be better accustomed to these challenges than us? I hope so.

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  11. You are pushing an barrow uphill, if you want to make your 14 year old do anything other than what she wants, Vero. Seriously, though, I think going out every day with children is far too much activity. You shouldn’t feel guilty as you made the best decisions as one who knows her best. I wonder why some parents feel they have to ‘push’ – unless there is some overriding reason for doing so. Are they thinking they can live their life over again through their child’s activities? No, if your daughter is happy, healthy and self-reliant, you have done well and you have given her a great gift – a good start to her adult life. Self-reliance and problem solving is not always the younger generation’s strong points.

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  12. Absolutely. I don’t think re-living your life through your children, is necessarily the best thing for them. As you said, a balance is important. I remember the days when we had to be in two places at the one time, because after school activities finished concurrently. Then we had to enlist the help of other parents. Still, my kids were never ones to do heaps of stuff outside of school. They erred on the other side, occupying themselves at home, with the once/twice a week sort of recreation during school terms. One son was in a team sport for a few years and we used to spend weekends trekking across the countryside as his team made it to the finals. That was an effort and the poor little one endured a year or two of being a “car baby.” We were glad that it didn’t continue in high school. I think at some stage, kids have to be able to create their own amusements, not have them provided to them on a platter. Plus it is so expensive when they are doing more than one extra curricular activity. Did you do the football/tennis team stints, Chris?


  13. I have always been a strong believer in down-time … some might say, too much, especially in a fast-paced society like Singapore. But I have personally reaped the benefits of much day-dreaming, so I am so glad to see your post. I, too, hope many are pondering over this critical issue after reading your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. No matter what we say, we do need down time. It is so valuable for problem solving. And restorative. I feel that with an addiction to stimulus, some kids might find it is boring and go to great lengths to avoid it.


  15. Great post, Amanda! Downtime for anybody is underrated in my opinion. When our kids were young, we had them signed up for some activities, but only things they really wanted to do. It worked out well for us as a family and if I had to parent young kids again, I wouldn’t change that part at all. I’ve been needing lots of downtime lately and have fallen behind in my blogging. Sometimes it’s important to just do nothing! Even though “doing nothing” can be very productive. 😉


  16. Doing nothing can be productive – yes Indeed, although it sounds like you found the balance of activites that felt right for you and your family at that time, Sabine. I think if your head is over full of things like organizing, going to, attending, returning home and unpacking, our attention is then focused on these present moment productive matters and away from a longer lens that might give us a different perspective. In downtime, there is reflection and this means we take advantage of looking at the past and contemplating the future in the present moment. Whilst my meditation practise reminds me to look at the present moment only, to rest my mind, we need not to eliminate reflections altogether. If a child’s life is full of present moments, only, rather than looking back or forwards, is that better or worse, or no different?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh this is so important, Cathy? / Wanderessence1025! In play, children Learn! I do think it also enhances the problem solving abilities of a younger mind, if they are open to that. I love that you agree that freedom is important for children and that it is freedom that will give them opportunity to develop their sense of self and what they like to do. It is great if they have opportunity and sometimes a reluctant child might need a gentle prompt, however, discovering who you are in the formative years give you a solid ground when it comes to the rocky years of adolescence, don’t you think?


  18. Adolescence is a challenging time for a parent and even sometimes for a marriage! I would not want to revisit it too soon. Was there any difference bases on gender?


  19. Actually, it seems I have struggled with all my children, my daughter first and now my youngest son. My middle son seems to have emerged the most unscathed. But I always gave them a lot of freedom to explore themselves. I still believe it was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, other things in life caused serious issues. And it’s difficult to escape hereditary issues, it seems.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Oh I hear you. My children all suffer with anxiety issues and that seems largely based on heredity. There is little you can do about that. Reaching adolescence they can go away from you in a personal sense so that it sometimes feels like the child you once knew has completely left and is unreachable. There is grieving in that.
    So you have two boys and a girl like me? What things did you find beneficial in helping you manage this difficult period?


  21. Simple games weren’t they, Lisa. Simpler times. In some ways we had a golden childhood growing up in the sixties and seventies. Well I am talking about my childhood, but it sounds like yours was not that different to mine?


  22. You make some wonderful points that I wholeheartedly agree with, Anie. Life skills like learning to cook is so important to me, but only one of my children enjoyed it. The other two do it, but don’t like to. Even so, by having to do it as a chore, they are picking up skills and contributing to the household effort and I feel that is important. It is not right for all families so you are very accurate to point out, that there is not one right way to bring up children and run your family. What is right for one, might be disaster for another. We all just work out what is best for us.
    And that is the way it has to be. We must travel our our road, not someone else’s. Another’s road will feel uncomfortable for us, like a itchy woollen jumper (sweater).
    I could never force my kids into doing anything – it simply backfired big time! I learnt that very quickly. However, it was possible to bargain or negotiate with them to try new things, which two of them were very resistant to. They see now that it was a good thing I did for them, but at the time protested strongly! That is their job in a way – to challenge us to be better parents and develop better ‘people’ skills.
    ‘Learning without understanding’ is pretty wasteful, but I can agree that reflection is not important but may be useful if you are that way inclined. I do tend to reflect a lot. Sometimes too much, and then I go and change the environment I am in. It is a shame that piano did not work out for you, but for the time you played with the neighbour, you enjoyed it, right? Sometimes things don’t work out. I remember thinking my kids would like a certain activity – but they had their own opinions and sometimes I was wrong. They are – individuals
    Anie: I am unsure what you meant by depression is preprogrammed?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Haha, I love your comparison with the itchy woollen jumper …; )…yeah, every person, every life and its circumstances are different but as life also is made of individuals in dynamic interaction with circumstances, we deal with our environment and search here for harmony, happiness and love…we choose and often we do not know why we chose this way and not another.
    It is certainly a nice feeling for parents to see that children agree that they are happy to have followed the advice of their parents.
    I also never forced my children to do something ( o.k. when they were very little I forced them sometimes….for example to stay in the kindergarden…..but my heart broke to see my daughter crying ). Later I tried to empathize and stand by their side, but I do not dare to say what is best for them. The paths are unique and there are certainly many beautiful and fulfilling ways in one life.
    Even though my memory is very bad, I can remember my early childhood and my experiences and feelings very well back then. My mom was the most beautiful and best woman in the world, although she also had flaws….; )
    I think the most important is, to give babies and young children a lot of attention, warmth and security. Then comes an age in which they develop their own mind and are also stubborn … here I was just as stubborn as they were and certainly flawed, but I have always regretted these mistakes and apologized for misconduct in my children … I think everything changes, when children become self-reliant people and it is important to show that they do not lose a cuddling mom, but win a close friend.
    What you write about reflection is very interesting and sure it is a very logical and consistent way to change the environment due to the reflections. I work something different I think. It is rarely the question for me how I change my environment so that it suits me better, but rather how I adapt to the environment that I feel happiness there. I know that this approach is dangerous, because if the environment is toxic it would make sense to change it. Here comes the certainty to wear, a basic trust that I got through my very sheltered childhood.
    And here I can also take up what I meant by that depression is preprogrammed.
    If I am not used to reflect if the environment in which I live fit me, if I consider the circumstances in which I live as a rigid constant I already will be very confused if I realize that this fixed parameter is changeable or even exchangeable.
    And then, starting to think and reflect, but without actions and thus a lack of learning (thinking without learning), it must end in a disaster.
    In my opinion, it is always important to approach things with passion and enthusiasm, it does not matter what it is, the main thing is, you can attribute yourself to the success (let it be a knitted sweater, a successful dinner or a newly painted room) … missing such success stories, boredom, frustration and substitute highlights (often addictions, such as shopping, alcohol / party, sex …) are the result.
    Oh and the piano worked very well for me. I was already a mieserable student with my neighbor. Lazy and unwilling to practice. I just wanted to invent songs myself. It was my way, though I regret it today, that I have never learned it properly, but I have never stopped and discovered the piano in my own way. Today I play a lot and not only my own pieces … it is my own universe, which certainly can hardly understand a human except me…but it is beautiful and satisfaying anyway….thank you so much for this beautiful discussion and stimulating thought Amanda…have a beautiful week! Anie

    Liked by 1 person

  24. My children seem to have that problem too, as far as anxiety, depression and even some bipolar tendencies. I think I let them have so much time in free play and exploration, that they (at least one in particular) have more an affinity for play rather than work. One of them seems to think his parents should support him forever! As for managing the difficult periods, I’ve tried everything, but in the end the thing that seems to work best is letting go and detaching myself from their issues. Not always easy to do, but a good thing to strive for. After all, they will be who they are, no matter what I think of their choices. By the way, I’m still in the midst of struggling with my youngest, 26. He’s the biggest challenge of all.


  25. I hear you, Cathy and if it is of any comfort, our thinking is pretty much aligned in respect of letting go and detaching ourselves from issues. It is the only way you can rise about those problems and be there to support the children, if and when they need us, and indeed, if they allow us to help them. When the problems can’t be solved, I found it was somewhat comforting to think that everything passes eventually, much as bad weather does. (a paraphrased old Norwegian saying). When the bad weather persists for an overly long time and there is no solution in sight, another blogger gave me the words, I needed to hear. That is: I could allow the “universe” to comment or find a solution. So I hand the problem over to the universe for a while, until the solution becomes clearer. [Thank you, Marlene]. This has allowed me to distance myself from the ever-circling thoughts and worries in one’s mind. These are the things I have no control over. Bad things happen to good people, no matter what.
    Coincidentally, my 26 year old is my greatest challenge as well, although he is the middle of my three kids. He was the youngest for about 8 years, though. With every year, he grows more distant, when he was the child who was more social than the other two. I feel at times, he is almost unreachable, however, a tenuous connection remains there underneath. I hope it will blossom in coming times.
    As for financial support, the world has so changed from when we were young; I was financially independent at 17, although often had very little money. Younger people face the prospect of growing casualization of the workforce and contracts jobs, with little long-term security.
    Only once did I ever have to return to my parent’s home. That wasn’t really about money.
    I still have two children at home with me and my husband, but not for much longer, as we are moving to a home by the beach in 6 months and the two remaining at home don’t want to come along. And that is okay too. The other child lives out of home but has been on an elastic band since he was 19, returning home between rentals and when money was short. I can’t see him being financially secure for some time to come. Yet he has this wondrous potential within him! Is your 26 year old living out of home?


  26. Well Anie! A fantastic comment with lots to discuss! If you want to take this discussion further?

    ” I think everything changes, when children become self-reliant people and it is important to show that they do not lose a cuddling mom, but win a close friend.” :-
    What beautiful and true words. An adult with a parent that is a close friend can be a great ally in life and I hope all my kids see me as this. (One doubts it at the moment – but maybe in time he will change his mind!)

    Secondly: When you write about adapting to the environment rather than changing it, I think of the saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them!” And there is definitely something to be said for that “strategy,” if you want to call it so, but there are still limits,or boundaries, (dangers), to that. Did you also mean that adapting to the environment is more a matter of acceptance of the other person’s/situation’s imperfections and foibles, rather than acquiescence, or giving in? That feels then like your dignity and values may remain intact and a person might feel more settled with staying in that environment?

    And now we come to ‘reflecting’ – this is a multi-faceted notion and my opinion on it relates to the kind of reflecting we are talking about. Self-reflection for understanding, or minor problem solving, or meditative self-development seems ostensibly fine. Am I hearing you correctly when you inferred that if there is no reflection, (or learning) and an expectation that the environment remains constant, this could lead to confusion if the environment does indeed change, (which it is apt to do as change is a part of everyday life), then thinking and reflection without any action/learning (read: adaptation), on the part of the individual, leads to depression? (And, thus it is inherent or ‘pre-programmed,’ in their personality)?

    Have I got that right? Because that is a very, very interesting comment and makes me think in particular about those people on the “spectrum” or others that psychologically resist or dislike environmental change. I think it is a very plausible explanation for why those folk might become confused and, especially when young, emotional or physically errant due to environmental stimulus or change.

    Generally, thinking and reflection without any change or progress can certainly become frustrating and depressing. And again, the tendency to be this way is bound up inside one’s personality, or pre-programmed.

    I love that you approach everything with enthusiasm, be that a repetitive or novel task. Without passion, one could slip into an addiction. I never thought about that connection before. Boredom / frustration leads to the possibility of addictive behaviour. Hmm. That is interesting to ponder a little more as I am always left wondering what is the motivation for younger people to experiment with new, unrestricted, dangerous drugs for entertainment, given the side effects are completely unpredictable and very serious. Perhaps this is what motivates them?

    But now I have to ask the question:
    If one is a ‘glass half empty,’ sort of person, do you think they can generally become the passionate, enthusiastic “glass half full’ person, Anie? Can they re-program their personality to become more animated about tasks?

    *P.s. – I love that you kept playing the piano in your own way – a journey of self discovery for pleasure, through music. How really lovely that you have that. It must give your great pleasure and serenity? Have a beautiful week, dear Anie. I always enjoy our discussions!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you so much for your considered and wise response, Amanda. We have been struggling with our 26-year-old for what seems like an eternity. He has boomeranged out and back home too many times to count; he has never wanted to take seriously that he has to work; he doesn’t believe in the “system” and has some very strange beliefs about the world in general. He also suffers from addiction problems. We have detached at times, but now he has moved back in and seems serious about pursuing a massage therapy certification, which seems to be in line with his general thinking about the world. Only time will tell, however, as he is notorious for not sticking to things and for running off as soon as he’s accumulated enough money to do so. I think it will be a long time before that son is financially secure. It disheartens me to see him struggle so when we’ve given him everything (probably too much), and he is also gifted with high intelligence.

    I’m not sure any of my children are financially “secure” but at least the other two are mostly self-supportive.

    I certainly agree with all of what you say, especially this: “Younger people face the prospect of growing casualization of the workforce and contracts jobs, with little long-term security.” This has been what both my sons have done, working for delivery companies, dog walking, Uber, etc. At least now the middle son is pursuing butchery through an apprenticeship and seems to enjoy it. It seemed an odd choice but the food business is changing all the time, and all of my kids seem to have an interest in food-related businesses. Even my daughter works as a bartender in one place, a back-room cook in another, and also writes food-related articles for Richmond Magazine. She’s cobbling together a life in line with her values and is doing so quite creatively. So we’ll see what happens with them all.

    I talked to a woman one time whose sons never went to college but moved to Colorado and are doing unusual jobs (one is a cowboy). She said she doesn’t know why she is so surprised to find they have grown into such free thinkers when she taught them just that: to be free thinkers.

    I think it’s a tough world for young people these days. In retrospect, I think I had it pretty easy.


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