By Expert Contributor Katie Kovaleski
Maria Shriver is an accomplished woman and among her many accomplishments, and what I assume is her proudest, is being the mother of 4 children. She recently gave some very poignant parenting advice in an interview with “hot mom’s club”.
"I wish someone had told me when I had little kids to keep it simple; make sure the birthday parties are simple, don't do so many activities, just kind of hang with your kids. Do things that don't involve lots of tutors or instructors or running around. Kids need quiet time, they need simple and they actually thrive in that".
This brings to light a topic that I have recently been confounded with particularly on social media: the over-scheduled child with over-the-top birthday parties.
I've seen quite a few toddlers and especially one-year-olds who are having what I would consider to be “extreme birthdays.” These are large parties with bounce houses, face painters, dj’s, professional photographers and more. Begging the question, who is the party really for?
The one-year-old doesn't even have the memory capabilities to cherish or even remember these events; could the party actually be for the parents? Has social media made children’s birthday’s into a “who did it better” phenomenon?
The same can be said of the over-scheduled child. Whatever happened to having quiet time? Or just down time at home with your parents and siblings? It seems like an open competitiveness for the world’s busiest and most involved child has emerged, and I find it to be concerning.
The world can be overwhelming for children; going to school and participating in one or two activities can be more than enough. Cognitively, children need ample time to unwind and process their day. It’s up to parents to bow out of this “race” and give them the quiet, simple time that they need.
Take it from Maria. She had the resources to give her children the world, and she did. Looking back, she just wishes she could have made things simpler, quieter, and not so jam-packed or flashy. I’m content to learn from her mistakes and take her advice. Maybe we all should.