The joys of doing nothing

The joys of doing nothing

Parents are always looking for ways to get their children to do something.

Winnie the Pooh once said, “Don’t underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”

How very true. But sadly it seems so unconnected to our world today.

In a society beset with getting their kids to do ‘something’, be ‘someone’, go ‘somewhere’ and constantly pushing the button, children are always forced to do something. In the summer holidays, they’re sometimes over burdened with this activity and that! Parents are always looking for ways to get their children to do something.

From painting, to character building, from dancing to math skills, from science camps to theatre, from outdoor camps to nature treks there are activity groups and summer camps for everything. After all, nobody wants to miss any opportunities.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against summer camps and activity groups. But I also believe that if a child isn’t doing ‘something’, doesn’t mean he’s doing ‘nothing’. A lot of the achievers became achievers by day-dreaming first and you can dream best when you’re ‘doing nothing’, when the mind is clear and light and free.

So when a parent asked me, “Which summer camps and activity groups do your kids go to?” I shrugged and played safe by saying that I hadn’t really thought of it. That was a wrong thing to say, because the parent launched off about this camp and that group. I nodded politely. I didn’t send my children to any summer camp.

I’m lucky I have two kids, so they keep each other company the whole day. During the summer holidays I allowed them to wake up late, I think they need a break from waking up before the sun, like they do every school day. Once they’re up, it’s quite a task sitting them down for breakfast.

Because they’re chasing fire-spewing dragons with their swords or running away from gigantic manic spiders or traveling from Timbuktu to Galapagos Islands on their imaginary airplane! I love what doing nothing can to do to their imagination!

And anyway, left on their own, children have an uncanny way of always doing ‘something’ or finding something to do, even after allegedly complaining that they’re bored — fixing an old broken toy car, drawing designs with a stick or a stone on sand or fiddling with Rubik’s cube or even helping out in the kitchen!

With schools just round the corner, it’s back to the routine for children. School and homework and after school activities and what not! I think parents should introduce in their kids’ daily timetable a time where they ‘do nothing’.

Or at least when they’re not pressurised to do something – like their homework or tuition-homework or some activity. A time where their minds roam free without any pressure, where they can dream and think of wild and impossible things, where they can do what they want (with some guidance, of course).

A healthy dose of imagination can work wonders and the imagination works best without fetters.

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