Schedules – The Importance of Ditching Them
Text by Melinda Taylor Schoutens
“Now, more than ever, we need nature as a balancing agent.” – Richard Louv
The slow and carefree days of summer have come to an end.
Every time the summer holiday arrives, we are sure those six weeks will stretch forever. But somehow, they manage to pass just a little quicker each year.
Our entire family embraces and adores all that summer brings, like the warm sun on our skin and the adventures that unfold. Also, the lack of formal schedules allows us to adopt spontaneity. We move at a snail’s pace and lean into that slowness with gusto.
But now we are back into our routines with set alarms. School and work pull us all in different directions.
We are up as the sun has barely made its debut; sleepy eyes and weary bodies eat breakfast in silence before our children rush out the door. Whether we like it or not, our children must fall into the rhythm of a day that takes them far from the mellow summer days.
Once home from school, the kids will eat a meal before after-school activities await. Most days, school, homework, friends, and activities feel like haze. All before we convene at the dinner table to discuss our days and the week ahead.
Over the years, we realised a few key elements could help us stay balanced, especially during the stress that often ensues once we return to school, hectic schedules, activities and work demands.
Here is a list of our top four realisations.
(1) Never Overschedule
An overly scheduled child doesn’t translate to a happy child. While we can fill our children’s lives with activities we believe are rich and meaningful, we concluded that two activities, plus school are plenty.
Our children, much like us, still require downtime.
They may use this time to tinker in their rooms, draw, build, create, meet friends, or sit on the couch while I read them a book. Whatever it may be, children crave time that is free of activities.
(2) Retreat to Nature
The weekend allows us to come together as a family. And it allows us to break away from the weekly routine.
The first thing we typically do to help us reset and restore balance after a long week is to go outside. We have always prioritised nature, which has made all the difference.
Whether it is a hike, a visit to a botanical garden, or going on an adventure, we try to reserve one day of the weekend for the natural world. It is a time that is free of odistractionson and deadlines.
The natural world’s rhythm dictates our movements. And we remember to appreciate life’s small beauties as we observe our surroundings.
During the weekends, we turn off the alarm clocks and allow our children the opportunity to rise on their own.
While we appreciate the phrase, “The early bird gets the worm,” our children need sleep, as do we.
Waking early five days of the week can sometimes prove exhausting. More so when the early morning light of summer fades into the darker days of autumn. Allowing our children to rise at their own pace just two weekly mornings feels indulgent and necessary.
(4) Slow Sundays
Sundays feel like they should be a day of leisure reserved for slow breakfasts, nature and relaxation. We love that Switzerland still covets this special time.
The idea of preserving just a single day of the week free of work, where relaxation is a top priority, is exceptional in our fast-paced world. If we have a deadline or if homework calls, we try to squeeze those work deadlines in on Saturday, honouring Sunday as the day of leisure it should be. A day to restore ourselves before we dive into the demands of the week ahead.
Now that summer feels like a distant dream of pools and lakes, mountains and adventures, we try our best to embed that sense of relaxation into our daily lives.
Though it is not always easy, nor are we always successful in our attempts, we have a formula that works well for us.
The key, however, is remembering to implement those simple strategies as the year unfolds.
Melinda is the co-author of the Fresh Air Kids Switzerland book series, along with her husband, Robert. Their new and highly anticipated book, Winter Kids Switzerland, will be available in November 2022. The Fresh Air Kids Switzerland books are available at Freshairkids.com or bookstores in Switzerland. Each of their four books is available in English, French and German.