Wasting time

With summer vacation right around the corner, you’re probably racing to keep your child busy by enrolling them in camps, extra activities and making sure they’re busy at all times. Many parents think that keeping their child occupied will be beneficial for them, but what about the white space? White space is the free, unscheduled time that you have available. Often parents view this as a waste of time, but is it really?

“I have seen a devastating impact on children over the last twenty years. Technology attacks the foundation necessary for healthy development. When I was a child, our neighbourhood was safe, and I played outside every day with my friends. We used our creativity and imagination, enhanced our problem-solving skills, and developed healthy bodies. But by the time my son was growing up, I rarely saw neighbourhood children playing outside. The trend had shifted, and the outdoors was perceived to be unsafe,” Rhonda Gillespie, an infant and toddler specialist, told plough.com.

“I had to return to work full time, which meant long days and less evening time to play and enjoy the outdoors with my son. The biggest mistake I made was purchasing him his first video game console. It started off with rules and time limits, but as time progressed, so did the hours at the game controller. At the beginning, it seemed like a win-win: he was interacting with children from all over the world and could casually socialize with his age group. He became good at some games, and his confidence rose. I always thought that at some point he would find friends to play with in the neighbourhood. Socialization has always been a challenge for him, and video game companies often bill their products as a bridge to forming connections. Now I feel he was denied the chance to develop healthy interactions. My son is seventeen years old now. He will text all day long. He says he is comfortable talking to people on the computer because he does not get bullied. But the flip side is that he did not learn to work through those awkward childhood moments that are an opportunity for growth. If he had never had the choice of online ‘friends,’ would he have learned better social skills?”

Why is white space good?

White space is referred to as negative space when it comes to art; it’s the area that surrounds the subject that is being photographed or painted. It’s important in the art world because it gives balance and defines boundaries, but how exactly does this relate to your child’s life? It relates to your child’s life because when their brain isn’t running at 100 miles per hour it has a chance to stop and think clearly. This can be a challenge at first for some who are used to always doing something.

During this time with no internet, no video games, no chores or homework they’ll discover their imagination. From this, a child can find new interests that they maybe never once would have thought about with all of the noise in their head. By giving your child time away from things and people to tell them how to think, they’ll better be able to form their own ideas and opinions.

Why do parents fear white space?

In today’s generation, it seems as though, to parents, it’s almost the norm to keep your child occupied at all times whether it’s scheduled play dates, school, sports, video games or on a tablet. Some parents see unplanned time as a waste or fear that it could lead to their child getting into trouble. Meanwhile, other parents might become irritated with their kids if they have time on their hands. It really is a shame, isn’t it?

How to set up white space-time?

This can be tricky, but with summer right around the corner, it can easily be done! A large chunk of time is taken up by school and homework. With that winding down, it’s the perfect time to schedule in some white space time. What exactly is white space though? That’s up to your child! The goal is to essentially clear everything running through your mind and zone out connecting with the blank canvas of your mind.

There are a variety of ways to achieve that state; not everyone is going to experience things the same way. There is a possibility that your child will find white space in a different way than you do. A few ways to get to that state are through sitting and letting your mind wander, free drawing with no specific item to draw, going for a walk, people watching, meditating and playing.