A little neglect goes a long way - JJ Landis
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A little neglect goes a long way

An empty Saturday approached. I had not one obligation to anyone other than myself and my girls. My husband and son would be camping. Our high school exchange student would most likely be hanging out with his friends. Giddy with “girls’ day” excitement, I made this list of all the fun activities we were going to do (prepare to be wowed):

1. Visit the Humane League to look at the dogs.

2. Go to Landis Valley Museum.

3. Visit a library.

4. Take a walk on the path in the park near the library.

5. Play mini-golf.

6. Eat fro yo.

Thursday night the hubby and son came home from Cub Scouts and announced their camping expedition was cancelled. The menfolk would be staying home after all.


No worries, I thought. Lee will be able to get caught up on work, and Alex can join us. We quickly swapped out “girls’ day” for a more gender neutral “kids’ day.”


Honestly, I rarely make plans like I did for this Saturday. I am typically of the “just let kids play” mindset. This is probably because I am lazy, but I like to think I keep things low-key for the good of the children.


For some reason (cough: Facebookcomparisons), I started letting guilt trickle in. Started to feel inadequateand lesser than. Ashamedly, that is what fueled the frenetic scheduling.


I woke up Saturday morning, still tired, with a lingering headache. After a few cups of joe, I retrieved my 12-year-old from a sleepover. Her head cold and slumber party hangover caused extreme fatigue and all she wanted to do was sleep.


One kid wanted to crash on the couch. One wanted to play with her friend. One complained as usual at any mention of leaving the house.


Consequently, all my desire to have my guilt-driven “kids’ day” evaporated.


The day ended up being a whole lot of nothing. I completed some paperwork, folded laundry, did yoga, made a shopping list, took a nap (that cured the headache!). Not exactly the kid-centric day I had planned.


But here’s the thing. Though I let comparison creep in, I came to my senses and realized once again that a little neglect goes a long way.


While I putzed around the house, my two healthy kids did their chores and then disappeared.


My seven-year-old and her BFF played in the backyard for hours. They did show up for lunch, but I threw some crackers, cheese, and apples at them and they were off again.


The sick middle-schooler spent the day sleeping.


The 10-year-old son painstakingly crafted a necklace for his little sister out of beads. It broke within minutes, but he refashioned it into a bracelet.


He also made a clay pot and clay arrowheads.


So much better than forced fun.

Then he took interest in a toy I brought home from work called a Kendama and lost himself for a while in learning how to catch a wooden ball on a stick. It takes keen concentration and lots of time, both of which he had since I wasn’t coercing him into having fun.


Photo credit: www.kendamausa.com


Before bed, I did organize a game of UNO. Other than that and feeding them (actually, the neighbors fed Emma), I neglected them all day. And it was fine.


Kids thrive when left with their own imaginations. With hours of unstructured time, they have time to become bored and use their brains to create ways to become un-bored.


Wow! A box!

I hesitate in giving the advice: neglect your kids. However, I do think it’s good counsel to leave them alone sometimes. Let them come up with their own plans. Who needs mini-golf when you have a backyard and a friend, or clay and time on your hands, or unscheduled hours to get needed rest?


  • Brenda Lazzaro Yoder,
    Posted at 17:37h, 08 December Reply

    As my kids have gotten older they rebel at the “let’s go here” but they tend to find things to do together at home. Not having siblings who played with me, I value the time the kids are interacting with each other, even if I wish we were doing those picture perfect moments. You’re a good mom to let their creativity go!

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 08:40h, 23 September Reply

    I agree 100%. I want our kids to know how to be bored. Lee

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