Ep 247: The Surprising Benefits of an Idle Summer

Pam Lobley, author of Why Can’t We Just Play?, tells the story of how she got her family’s summer schedule under control and created a stronger bond with her kids by embracing the notion of “doing nothing.” 

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Full Show Notes

In today's fast-paced world, the life of a teenager often mirrors the hustle and bustle of adulthood. With a calendar filled to the brim with school, extracurricular activities, and social commitments, the notion of "free time" seems like a relic of the past. But what if the secret to balance, happiness, and creativity for our teens lies in embracing the art of doing nothing?

This week on Talking to Teens, we delve into a topic that's at once revolutionary and nostalgic: the profound impact of stepping back to a simpler time when kids had the freedom to play without agendas or supervision. Joining us is Pam Lobley, a comedic actress turned author, whose intriguing experiment and subsequent book, "Why Can't We Just Play," brings forth valuable insights for modern-day parents striving to raise well-rounded and resilient teenagers.

The Lost Art of Free Play

Pam shares the story of how a casual conversation and the visceral reaction of her own children to an over-scheduled life led her to conduct a summer-long experiment with her family, stepping back into the ideals of the 1950s. This was a time when kids had the license to be kids, roaming free, inventing games, and discovering the world at their pace. The experiment, though challenging in a world that equates busyness with productivity, revealed surprising benefits not only for her children but for Pam herself.

Facing Modern Parenting Pressures

In our discussion, we explore the societal pressures that compel us to keep our teens always "on the go." Pam elucidates how this relentless scheduling might stem from a place of love and fear of them falling behind, yet it strips away crucial developmental opportunities. Learning to embrace periods of unstructured time can be transformative for teenagers, providing them with space to cultivate imagination, independence, and problem-solving skills.

Letting Go of Control

One of the most poignant aspects of Pam's narrative is the realization of how relinquishing control can foster a sense of responsibility and autonomy in teenagers. By allowing her children the freedom to choose their activities and manage their boredom, Pam witnessed an evolution in how they approached their free time and tackled the inevitable challenges of growing up.

Navigating Judgement and Social Norms

Pam and I also discuss the inevitable scrutiny that comes with choosing a less conventional parenting path. She shares her strategies for maintaining conviction in her choices despite societal expectations and the judgment of peers. This segment is particularly enlightening for parents who may feel isolated in their desire to defy the "over-scheduled" status quo.

In the Episode…

Our conversation with Pam Lobley is brimming with anecdotes, reflections, and advice that urge parents to reconsider the merit of downtime in their teenager's lives. If you're curious about the impact of "doing nothing" and the potential it holds for nurturing happier, more imaginative teenagers, this episode is for you.

Also, don't miss discussions on:
  • The challenge of finding balance in a digitally saturated age.
  • Practical tips for instituting "free play" time in your family.
  • How to communicate the value of unstructured time to teenagers.
  • Long-term benefits of embracing a slower-paced childhood.
Give this thought-provoking episode a listen and discover the unexpected joys of allowing teens to sometimes do absolutely nothing. Subscribe to Talking to Teens for more insights into the art and science of parenting teenagers.

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Pam Lobley
Pam Lobley
Author: Why Can't We Just Play? What I Did When I Realized My Kids Were Way Too Busy. Available now where ever books are sold. You'll like it.
Ep 247: The Surprising Benefits of an Idle Summer
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