By Cheryl Bac
Why My Son Is Unusually UnscheduledUploaded: Oct 13, 2013
When I was about 10 years old, I started attending a very structured girls' summer camp. We woke up in the morning at 7am sharp, went onto the cabin's porch for flag raising at 7:05, dressed in our uniforms and cleaned the cabin to prepare for inspection at 7:40 before eating breakfast at 8:00. The day was filled with swimming, canoeing, tennis and other scheduled classes along with meals and rest hours. The day ended with flag lowering at 8:30 and taps at 9:00.
For the most part, I truly enjoyed having a very structured summer. I could learn how to kayak, windsurf, perform a back dive, hit a bullseye, and identify poison ivy all in a single day.
But there were parts of it that I disliked. Such as jumping into the lake when it was cold enough to see my breath because swimming was "on the schedule" (this was in upnorth Wisconsin). I disliked being stuck in arts and crafts on a hot day and tennis on a rainy one. But most of all, I was not a fan of rest hour...when we were suppose to sleep or at least lie down on our beds. I rarely fell asleep. Most of the time I spent rest hour reading signatures on the cabin's walls.
Because of these dislikes, I have an unusually unscheduled toddler. For instance, I give my son lots of flexibility with his naps. It makes no difference to me if he falls asleep at 1 or 3. Or if he sleeps for an hour or two. Furthermore, if I were a toddler, I would want to sleep more on rainy days, play in the water all afternoon during a heatwave, and sleep in after a day spent running around at the zoo. So that's what I let my son do.
I know this is not the normal parenting strategy (especially around here). Almost all of the babies I meet are on a schedule (sometimes a very strict one). I understand that schedules are lifesavers for many new (and experienced) parents, but it's just not for me and my family.
Personally, I think my son's life will become overscheduled from the time he is 5-21+ so why not give him more flexibility now?