I f*cking love this!
In Sweden and Finland, children aren’t taught to read until they’re about 7-8 years old. They believe that play is more important than academics for early education, and research shows that it doesn’t impact academic achievements later in life.
In Japanese, karoshi means “death from overwork”. I’m not joking. They actually have a word for it. Because it happens, and not just in Japan.
And here? Americans are driven by competition; plagued with stress, debt, and high blood pressure. We over-work, over-eat, and we're chronically over-tired. The connection between stress and heart disease is indisputable, and the CDC and WHO both agree that heart disease is America’s #1 killer.
How does this impact American parents?
Well, we’re all pretty much losing our minds. We’re constantly running between work and home, frantically trying to perform well at work, schedule childcare and playdates, keep the laundry folded, diapers stocked, scrambling to put store bought rotisserie chicken and salad-in-a-bag on the table in the 30 minutes we have with our kids before it’s bath and teeth and books, and tuck-into-bed-time.
And then we fold more laundry before we go back online to answer emails, or fall asleep in front of the TV! Sound familiar?
Though recent studies are conflicted about whether parents are more or less happy than non-parents, I'm fairly confident that in urban America where parents have little down time and family support, there are a LOT of parents suffering from what I call a Happiness Deficit. I feel like we’ve seriously forgotten how to play. Unlike Thais, we postpone fun until after we finish our chores. (Well, at least I do, but I'm working on chilling out!)
So yeah, this sucks for us, but what about our kids?
If the saying is true, Happy Kids = Happy Parents, what are our kids learning? What are we role modeling for them? Are we showing them that all work and no play is normal? Are we teaching them how to have fun and be happy?
In order to change anything we don’t want in our lives, the first step is awareness.
The next step is having a vision for what you want, and then taking actions to get there.
The Thais are definitely onto something. They know how to chill, and enjoy simple things in life. Thais live to laugh, and they definitely have more fun.
So, Mama Bear . . . What can you do to find more sanuk?
(BTW, in my quest for more fun this summer, I worked less, played more, rode water slides, taught my kids to nosedive under waves, built sand castles, and I'm going on a big tacky cruise to the Bahamas with my family next week. Totally irresponsible for a Type-A border collie incarnate like me, but I'm having fun with my family, and what's more important than that?)