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Old 24.08.2011, 16:44
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

Back home now from the pool. Wow - so many thanks!! The kids and I had a lovely day at the pool. I met a group of mums in the morning and we swam and had lunch. After lunch my son and I played Uno and Memory in the shade while my little girl slept. I even skipped Spielgruppe this morning since it was such a nice day.

We got home and my son has already asked to play dominos with me later after his sister is in bed I've experienced that I can buy my kid all the toys in the world and what he really wants is to play a game with me.
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  #22  
Old 24.08.2011, 17:05
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

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Back home now from the pool. Wow - so many thanks!! The kids and I had a lovely day at the pool. I met a group of mums in the morning and we swam and had lunch. After lunch my son and I played Uno and Memory in the shade while my little girl slept. I even skipped Spielgruppe this morning since it was such a nice day.

We got home and my son has already asked to play dominos with me later after his sister is in bed I've experienced that I can buy my kid all the toys in the world and what he really wants is to play a game with me.
Sounds like our Sunday - a bit of a walk, a paddle in the lake, a play in the sand and then board games in the shade in the afternoon followed by a glass of something fizzy later.
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Old 24.08.2011, 17:08
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

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Sounds like our Sunday - a bit of a walk, a paddle in the lake, a play in the sand and then board games in the shade in the afternoon followed by a glass of something fizzy later.
I have a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge for later
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Old 24.08.2011, 22:24
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

We've never really done extracurricular activities either. My son is very chatty, very social and loves being with people. But he doesn't want to be 'organised' - what he wants to do is play Lego with his friends, creating fantastic 'other worlds' battle scenes and playing out complicated imaginary scenarios, all accompanied by non-stop voiceovers. Sometimes he does little mini stop animation films with my iPhone. Or he wants to scavenge around the garden with his sister and make a den out of tree prunings, and then move into it for the day with books and snacks. Or he just comes and hangs in the kitchen with me whilst I'm cooking, or in the laundry room whilst I'm ironing, and we have one of those long 'working side by side with no eye contact' kind of chats about grown-up issues, like war, or debt, or drugs and so on. He's 11, and it's fascinating watching him beginning to form an adult mind.

I've always offered activities - he's tried various sports, Scouts and musical instruments, but is happy to just do a few months or even a one-session taster and then explain it just hasn't grabbed him. One day, something will get its hooks into him and he will live and breathe X. Or maybe he won't. Maybe he'll bobble along, having a little try at many, many different things just for the experience. I completely get this. I've done one parachute jump. I've fired a rifle on a range once. I did a scuba diving session, one time. I went on a weekend bread baking course. It's not that I didn't enjoy any of those things, I did, immensely - but there are so many other new things to try!

He did the local Morges-area Passeport-Vacances scheme last October, where kids can sign up for a range of activities to keep them amused during the 2-week holiday. He did a course on engraving pictures on wood, one of stone carving, did a round of golf, visited the Bex Salt Mines, spent a day at the army barracks and several other things that escape me now. Each day, a new thing, with total stranger kids and an unknown instructor, all looked forward to with breathless excitement. That's a different approach to the discipline and commitment involved in 'swimming every Tuesday at 4pm for the last two years', but it's no less valid.

And I must admit I don't push too hard. I love unscheduled time. School holidays, with the yawning vista of unplanned hours, is marvellous to us. If he really wanted to do something, then of course I'd support that and take him, but I'm not going to cajole and chivvy his lukewarm butt out of the house because I have some vague notion of a rounded middle-class childhood, or because I think it'll look good on his college applications. Although ask me again in a few years about the college apps - might have a different view then...
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Old 28.08.2011, 14:45
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

I have a bit different view on the topic: I had tons of the activities pushed on me by my parents, and most of them (activities) I hated. Yet because of them I now swim, ski, bike, play tennis and sometimes can even play something on the guitar (thanks to years of forced piano lessons during my school years). My husband had laissez-faire parents who did not push him to do much. Well, now he wants to swim and ski, but has huge difficulty just to learn any of the activities I take almost for granted -- it took him 2 years to learn to ski, he's still scared of swimming and freaks out when the shore is far, etc. etc. It is not that he is not fit --he runs a lot and exercises. I know a few other examples of similar circumstances.

My take on it is that there are activities (or may be all of them?) that are much more easy to learn when you are young (from biking and up to the languages). Kids could have various inclinations for learning or not (depends on the parents, but also on the peers, etc.). It is not clear for me how to strike a right balance.

KTZV
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  #26  
Old 28.08.2011, 15:36
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

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We were always nagging each other to get out of the house earlier and make the most of our day with the kids. Our son still wanted to play but we would tell him to get dressed and go somewhere.

The last year has seen me being very lazy. No scheduled activities at all. No swimming, turnen or skiing classes that we needed to get to on time and I have found our lives have been so much less stressful and happier.

Instead of trying to get out and organising something, we go out alone with the kids, give them our undivided attention, play with them and enjoy our precious time with them.

I was listening to my colleague just yesterday arranging tennis, swimming, ballet, horse riding and ice skating lessons for her kids and I was thinking that I should be doing this too.

I came accross this article this morning: http://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life...824-1j94e.html

How scheduled is your life? I didn't put my son into local kindergarten (first year) so we would have some flexibility on attendance. I didn't want him going there 5 mornings a week. We do try to teach things through play, like times tables, how things work and at the moment all about vege gardens. A lazy afternoon in the garden keeps my kids happier than a long day out.
A lot of the "rushing children here and there" comes from the American culture. The so-called "having it all" syndrome. In Switzerland being a "laid-back parent" is nothing new. The idea that rushing children to a bunch of activities makes them...what? You fill in the blank. Children aren't postal packages to be dropped of and picked up at various points...Good for you that you have a better understanding of your life in relation to your children...
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Old 28.08.2011, 15:46
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

I think it's also important to teach kids how to entertain themselves (through art, reading, etc.) and to be content with simplicity so that they don't always feel the need for some form of "external stimulation" like video games or social activities. I think a child's interests should be discovered and then nurtured, rather than being something forced upon them. Besides, it seems that a lot of kids end up taking an aversion to what is forced upon them, so a parent's good intentions could easily backfire.

Raising kids never gets easy does, it?
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Old 28.08.2011, 15:49
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

Ah, my favorite Idle Parent theme...nice.

I think there is structure and there is structure.
I was never a big fan of overscheduling, but when one is here, trying to integrate and find friends and buddies for the kiddo, on my own, then certain structure that is available and offered by canton is a god send. I wouldn't stress myself over regularity, if I felt like it, we'd go, but I made sure it was often enough the playgroup would offer enough French for me and kiddo, we'd learn. Skipping things just to bond is automatic, it's us who make the schedule, nobody else.

So there are conditions, when it is not so easy to say, forget all schedules. Like living in a foreign country, for example, and one that runs on scheduling, even a simple playdate. Mommy and me classes were fun, for a single child and stay at home parent, awesome social network, not really trying to make my child a Rembrandt or Janis Joplin.

I am not stressed over extracurriculars, I grew up in family that left me make my own schedule since I was 4. Music was fab, art, dancing, everything I wanted to try on my own, I did, and we did at home together, too. I want to offer the same to my child, so there will be offers. As long as she enjoys them and has the motivation, since she sees me play and draw, create, etc. It's good to stimulate. I wouldn't overdo it, anyways, but stimulation in certain degree is important. If it is through mom talk, or watching a cartoon together, or walking outside, or a class, it does not matter, as long as it is ballanced.

But stressing because of over achievements, or trying to be over scheduled, has never been an issue in my Bohemian fambli. We could have a little more family time, some activities done, actually. As long as people just don't always sit on couch watching TV, as long as they know a bit their surroundings, venture out to nature for kiddo to have some fresh air every now and then...why not.

Middle ground.
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Old 28.08.2011, 15:50
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

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A lot of the "rushing children here and there" comes from the American culture.
Yes, it's probably similar to that competitive "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality that is so prevalent in the US.

If your friends' kids are all in soccer and learning to play instruments (etc.), then you feel obligated to do the same with your kids. This is one more reason why I'm so glad that I won't be parenting in the States.
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Old 28.08.2011, 15:59
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

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Yes, it's probably similar to that competitive "Keeping up with the Joneses" mentality that is so prevalent in the US.

If your friends' kids are all in soccer and learning to play instruments (etc.), then you feel obligated to do the same with your kids. This is one more reason why I'm so glad that I won't be parenting in the States.
I know. But just because of some fad it does not mean you have to do the same..I have a couple of great US friends who parent completely differently than the trends there, reasonably, with a lot of parental envolvement, but having faith in their kids at the same time and not falling into the whole soccer mom bull, filtering out the mainstream push, while being quite inspirational to me, as a parent, with their ideas, freedom and wisdom, creativity. Parenting is mostly about improvising, anyways. Paying for courses or chaufering offsprings here and there means squat nothing about the quality of parenting the kids are getting, at the end.
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  #31  
Old 28.08.2011, 18:14
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

I am not sure that the original topic is really specific to parents. I would think it is directly connected to the eternal discussion who is happier -- relaxed people who perhaps do not pack too many things into every day or over-driven personalities whose days are filled to the brim and calendars for the next few months... Most likely the answer is that it depends -- on personalities, what people drive utility from, also interconnected with the choice of the lifestyle, friends, and so on. Parenting style is just one of many facets of the life we try to live...

KTZV
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  #32  
Old 28.08.2011, 19:16
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

One reason perhaps that growing up in Switzerland, providing you are not in a big city, is great. Many more opportunities to play in the fields or woods, by the lake, etc. My grand-children are growing up in Surrey, and it is so 'scheduled' and so many (too many) organised activities, clubs, classes, etc- constant dropping off and picking up. Here kids just say 'going to the football field, will be back for supper' - or 'to the woods' 'to the skating rink', to the local ski slope, etc.
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Old 28.08.2011, 20:24
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

I don't have a clue what you are talking about.
AYB

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Most likely the answer is that it depends -- on personalities, what people drive utility from, also interconnected with the choice of the lifestyle, friends, and so on. Parenting style is just one of many facets of the life we try to live...

KTZV
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Old 28.08.2011, 20:27
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

Change the thread title to laid-back or parents-without-neuroses and I agree totally with the OP.

I would be surprised if teenagers particularly were so forthcoming. They no doubt respond in the same way as teenagers the world over:

"Where are you going ?"
"Out."
"What time are you home ?"
"Later." (Sound of door slamming)

AYB


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Here kids just say 'going to the football field, will be back for supper' - or 'to the woods' 'to the skating rink', to the local ski slope, etc.
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Old 28.08.2011, 20:31
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

Was talking about younger kids and younger teenagers - before they turn into grumpy Kevins Kids around here are really polite actually.
One of the positive aspects of being 30 years behind.
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Old 28.08.2011, 20:36
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

Really good to read a thread reassuring me that I am not alone when shuddering at the vast array of out of school clubs and activities.

Jesus, why are most of those activities on at daft times during the afternoon during which grown ups oddly refer to as "paid time in the office".

Also feeling much less guilty about whole weekend afternoons spent faffing about then realising it's 5 o'clock and we have bugger all to show for it. Can't even claim to have been creative or particularly mumsy during that time either.

If I still lived in the UK, social services would be onto me for being a terminally dull parent.
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Old 28.08.2011, 20:44
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

I take the extra-curricular activities of my children very seriously : including toastmasters, jazz appreciation and a course in thai cookery. They have yet to really demonstrate the benefits of these activities but I have great hopes for them as soon as they move on from kindergarten.

AYB

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Really good to read a thread reassuring me that I am not alone when shuddering at the vast array of out of school clubs and activities.

Jesus, why are most of those activities on at daft times during the afternoon during which grown ups oddly refer to as "paid time in the office".

Also feeling much less guilty about whole weekend afternoons spent faffing about then realising it's 5 o'clock and we have bugger all to show for it. Can't even claim to have been creative or particularly mumsy during that time either.

If I still lived in the UK, social services would be onto me for being a terminally dull parent.
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Old 28.08.2011, 20:59
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

Cool thread. Thanks MarieZug
I was actually discussing this exact topic with an American friend of mine recently who has a similar feeling to that of the OP. She says that back home, many of her friends have their children enrolled in so many activities that they rarely get to even have family dinners together. She does not want to follow that route.

Where I grew up, my friends and I usually had one activity out of school and then a couple within school (athletics is HUGE where I come from ).
We never had the stress of being booked into too many things so learning about how parents these days (well, here and in the US anyway) and their families are so hectic and busy with many activities was/is an eye opener for me.

I will definitely be taking the 'laid back' approach as it's what I know and what I'm comfortable with and from what I can tell, it's more balanced than the other way anyway.
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Old 28.08.2011, 21:04
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

Big Momma's House 2 refers.

AYB
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Old 28.08.2011, 21:30
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Re: Lazy parents make happy families

I don't think I agree with either extreme to be honest.

I don't think kids should not do any activities at all other than hang out at home with their parents or potter round the house. Most kids want to play with other kids - and I find that boys especially seem to want to get out and play with other boys. And do "boy stuff" like riding their bikes through the mud and playing football in the park - skinning knees and poking sticks at each other.

But I also don't think that kids should be forced into doing hundreds of activities that they don't want to do. Ferried around from school to French lessons to Violin to a playdate their parents arranged with a friend across town.

For me, balance is what's important.

My older son needs a lot of activities. He's just a very active boy and things can get nasty if he's not busy with something or other. As a toddler it was imperative to get him out of the house every day for at least 2 or 3 hours - whatever the weather - otherwise he'd frankly go a bit nuts.

My own parents were totally laid back - or lazy - or whatever you want to call it. We never went anywhere, or did any activities at all. As a result I was completely socially inept for a long time. The only person I really wanted to hang out with was my mum and I never had many friends. I was totally jealous of all my friends who did brownies/guides and ballet and horse riding and swimming. I never did anything. In the end I convinced myself that my parents wouldn't let me do those things because I was useless. Of course now I don't blame them - most of it was due to a simple lack of money, but I didn't really get that at the time. I only saw them not giving a damn about what I wanted (kids are generally selfish you know!)

Anyway, the long and short of it is, balance as I said. A few activities, a social life with other kids around the same age, and some down time too, this is what makes a happy family life in our home.
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