Are we causing ourselves Hurry Sickness due to our chosen lifestyle?
In a recent article I was asked to comment on it raised some interesting points. Are we making ourselves sick with all the pressures of life we place upon ourselves and family?
HOW DID WE GET SO BUSY?
Modern day lifestyles, a plethora of out- of-home activities and a need to cram even more daily is becoming increasingly common in modern day families.
As a result, the phrase “so busy” is becoming ever present in families’ vocabularies. Do we really want to teach our children that their childhood was so busy that they just rushed through it?
Chauffeuring the kids around to activities is not the only thing parents are rushing around for. Parents too are trying to squeeze more and more from life every day, asking those around them to hustle along in the process.
Between work commitments, personal aspirations, social outings and commuting, the practical aspects of attending these events can also interfere with a child’s schedule. From after-school care to nannies and grandparents’ house – children can be required to move and adapt to different arrangements to cater for other family members’ schedules. This can play havoc with the child’s sense of belonging and connection with the family, says Dr. Karen Phillip, a psychotherapist.
“While children are usually quite resilient, the most important thing when you decide to raise a child is to spend quality time with them to teach, nurture and share with them… Our children also model the parents’ behaviour so unless you want your child to develop running a million miles an hour or be switched off from their family, then [it’s] time to stop, slow down, prioritise and play – with the kids.”
“Kids usually don’t know how to do this (manage stress), so they look to their parents for guidance. That’s why stressed parents can often equal stressed kids, because kids pick up on stress from their parents.” Even everyday activities that are part of the routine can have the potential to cause stress, if too many tasks are incorporated into the schedule.
ESTABLISHING A BALANCE
“Kids need unstructured time to consolidate the skills that they’ve learned. ‘Free time’ allows children to be creative and come up with new ideas, without the constraints of being ‘in a classroom’. It’s crucial for their brain development, learning, and general wellbeing,” says Dr. Nayate.
Dr. Phillip agrees. “It is great to do lots of different things but pacing is so important. If the children wish to play a sport then perhaps do soccer one year, football or netball the next, karate the next plus the necessary swim lessons for example but we do not need to cram everything into every day.”
The opportunity to develop the imagination by making up games and learning to entertain themselves is what’s at stake if the day is packed with activities that we are hurrying to get to, she says. All kids are different in the amount of unstructured time that they require, says Dr. Nayate.
A great way of knowing whether kids are getting enough unstructured time is by understanding how each member of the family is coping with the schedule. “Kids who aren’t coping with their workload MAY become anxious or irritable, and some signs of this are: fatigue, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering new information, restlessness, worry, difficulty falling asleep, or mood-swings.”