Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Idle Time is the Devil's Playground





(This article is not for young readers.)


It's been said that idle time is the devil's playground or similarly that idle hands is the devils workshop.

I could not agree more. With 8 children I find that keeping them busy goes quite a long way to keeping them out of trouble. While I do believe that it is beneficial to have a time of rest from work and to enjoy some free unscheduled time in one's schedule, I also believe that God has given us time, that it is a gift, and that we should be wise stewards of it. Below is a verse characterizing what can happen when someone (in this case, widows) have too much idle time:

Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. 1 Timothy 5:13

One of the things that our generation did not grow up with were cell phones. We did not have the opportunities to text our friends about every little detail or gossip that came our way. Today's children know how to text as fast as they can speak. Many news reports have been exposing stories all across America regarding children and teens who have taken to the new rage of 'sexting' their friends on their cell phones during their free time and in the school classrooms. It is alarming to realize that something that seems so harmless as a phone could create so much trouble. Our children become victims and casualties of visual and sexual assault while so many around them--the teachers and parents, did not have a clue. In todays world, our children could be sent offensive images while they are sitting in a church service!!! (And the sad part is, most parents would not even know.)

The use of leisure time should be carefully prayed over and planned out by the parents. Too much leisure time can only lead to trouble. It is wise to make sure children have something to put their hand to throughout the day and a schedule of planned activities carefully prayed over and thought through by mom and dad is priceless-especially for those who find children with too much free time on their hands. Nothing is more irksome to see than a child or teenager whining "I'm bored."





Teach your child to work. So many teens do not even know how to clean their rooms, let alone other areas of the home. Teach them these things and you will be teaching them life skills, good character and responsibility. I can't tell you how many mothers have written me, lamenting how they wished their parents had taught them the basics of caring for a home/cooking, etc. so they would not have to struggle so much now.

Parents are often afraid of teaching their children to work around the house because they do not want to 'rob' them of their childhood. This could not be more false! If we are training our children to care for themselves and a family one day, the time spend in their childhood learning these things are priceless. I believe if they are not taught they are being 'robbed' of proper training.


If a child's time is unsupervised the child will find ways to fill it himself. Maybe hanging out at the mall wasting money that could be saved, or too much time on themselves such as spending hours on how they look (fixing their hair, picking out clothes, reading teen magazines that promote such behavior). They might dwindle away hours watching tv, movies or playing video games of which have no eternal value. They can also be drawn to premature relationships with the opposite sex and further enticed by other worldly influences.

Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger. Proverbs 19:15

Children who contribute at home feel an inward sense of worth as they contribute to the family unit. Teaching your child the value of time, how it is a gift of God and not to be wasted frivolously. We are managers of the short time we are here on earth. The question we should be asking is: How can we use this time to advance God's kingdom on earth and bring glory to Him while we are here?

If we find our children has extra time after school and housework, set your sights on teaching them life skills. Can they prepare meals, sew, garden, mow, do laundry repair broken items, car maintenance etc? In their spare time they could always be reading through the Bible and through good books that inspire or teach them. I love the idea of having them involved in ministry, or what I like to call Kingdom Work.

Whether it is within your home, neighborhood or church, through letter writing or prayer--there is always a need for something. There are widows who would love a phone call or lonely neighbors who could use a visit. There are new moms who could use a meal or new neighbors that would love some welcoming cookies. Have your children be outward focused, and not inward, and see the blessings they will reap by doing so!

My last thought is this....PRAY. Ask the Lord exactly what you should be doing as a family and to guide and direct you in these matters for not every family will look the same. Ask Him to show you and your husband what needs to be changed in your child's life so that you can permanently close the door on the devil's playground and use their time wisely as a platform for serving our King.








(She Looketh Well Series, Part 4)








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29 comments:

  1. Such a great post, June! One of the best resources I have found for prayerfully planning our days and our children's days is the book, Manager's of Their Homes by Teri Maxwell. Although health challenges keep me from being as consistent as I would like, it really helps you see just how much free time a child ends up having if we don't schedule productive activities for them to do.

    If you know of any other great resources that have helped you, I would appreciate you sharing.

    Thanks so much for this labor of love.

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  2. This is something I needed to read. Thank you for writing this post. It is sometimes hard to find things to do with my 2 year old. I do not have a car, and cannot take him to the zoo, or park often. We count, say the abc's, color, read, play, sing. Sometimes I run out of things to do. I am going to pray and ask God to help me find more ways to manage our time!

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  3. Wonderfully written.

    Oh the dreaded cell phone...facebook...old fashioned television. So many ways that "technology" has invited idleness into our homes.

    Don't get me wrong...I love having a GPS device when I'm touring a new city or a cell phone with me and my little ones while traveling on the highway, but (as I've mentioned before) I've seen some serious abuse at even the 3rd grade elementary level through the use of technology.

    One personal example...my 8-year old nephew was doing a science project on the beaver and inadvertently was exposed to pornography via the internet. Children can not be left alone while surfing the net...even when working on a school project. My sister-in-law learned her lesson...and I took it to heart.

    In fact, Mary Catherine and Benjamin are rarely allowed to use the computer. I know there are wonderful education and religious sites out there, but I just feel that there are better "hands-on" ways of learning and experiencing life at the toddler/preschool level than passively sitting in front of a computer.

    And I don't even want to get started on facebook...I friended by 15-year old niece just so I could keep an eye on her and I DO let my sister-in-law know when I see questionable content pop up. And where is my sister-in-law...she doesn't want Ashley to think mom is "spying" on her. I say SPY AWAY...it is your DUTY as a parent.

    You're right...our own parents did not have such technology worries with us. Our rules were simple and straightforward at our house...bedroom doors were never to be locked...dresser drawers and closets could and would be searched at any time (usually while we were at school)...and parents knew all friends and chaperoned most events.

    And while I didn't have a lot of free time (we did have down time), our involvement in extra curricular activities such as soccer, piano, and dance prevented us from having lots of idle after-school time. It's tough being a parent...but that is the job you signed up for! Thanks again for the great food for thought.

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  4. Excellent! Much needed topic of discussion these days.

    Thanks Michelle for your book recommendation; I'm going to check it out. I also have health challenges; I completely understand how consistency ebbs and flows.

    Joisie, one of my children's fav things when they were little was playdough. We would spend alot of playing with cookie cutters, cooking and baking & having fun. In fact, my son is 7 now & it is still a favorite. Another fav was fingerpainting outside on a warm day. After they were finished their picture; they were rewarded with some time in the kiddie pool. Easy cleanup for moms! :) You are doing all the right things! Especially reading to your child...opens a whole new world to them. Enjoy your time with your little one; before you know it they will be in school.

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  5. Wow! There is no other advice more important today for me than that.

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  6. Oh June, this is such a helpful post! I do have a question...how do you keep time scheduled for little ones -mine are 1, 3, and 4 and it is very hard to keep them at tasks...easier to just let them play.

    Thoughts?

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  7. Well said! It's a blessing to know my kids are in your hands while I'm at work..."she brings him good and not harm"...

    Josie, at 2 yrs old, just focus on keeping the little guy safe, not busy! :-)

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  8. I am brand new to your blog. I found it in a link on this site: 1plus1plus1equals1.blogspot.com. After going through your site and several posts, I definitely feel the Lord led me here so I am a new follower. I am a stay at home mother (of a 2 year old son) who loves the Lord and really found your site encouraging. Thanks!

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  9. Great post. I think your other readers have made excellent comments. Idle time - indeed a most valuable tool of Satan. Children sexting with their phones is an epidemic and there have been numerous specials on this subject covered by many of the main news sources. I like and enjoy your Bible which you use wisely in your posts.

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  10. I believe if they are not taught they are being 'robbed' of proper training. This is soooo true. My husband is the pastor of our church and we minister to college students. It is shocking how often we have to teach them life skills. With 4 of my own little children, I am prayerfully determined to "train them in the fear of the Lord." I have trained young women how to do their own laundry, make a meal, set a proper table, and even how to take a message when answering the phone. A much needed post and I appreciate the reminder for myself too. =0) Kelly

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  11. Beautiful and timely post. Never have. Parents had to keep a watchful eye on their little ones - what they're watching, reading, or listening to - than now.
    Thank you for your encouragement and wisdom!

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  12. Enjoyed this post... and the whole series thus far. You are a gem!

    Reminds of some points that were brought out in the book "Raising Sons to Provide for a One Income Family." It is a great resource and talks about involving children in daily work and service to others, among other things. I highly recommend it!

    Love you, sweet friend :o) Thanks for inpiring me... as you always do!

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  13. Hello ladies,

    I have read both book 'Managers of Their Homes' and 'Preparing Sons' they are both excellent and I recommend both.

    As for mothers with small children, as my husband said---just work on keeping them safe, playing with them, reading with them. If they are a bit older you can teach them to put away the toys they take out, put their clothes away, set the table, etc.

    Enjoy their youth while you have it--it is a precious gift!

    Many blessings...

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  14. Thank you June for all of your hard work with your blog and in your quest to inspire women! I was one of the unfortunate that did not learn homemaking growing up and was lead astray by the belief in pursuing a "higher" education. You are so special and a gift to us women who aspire to hear God's true calling. There are not words to express my gratitude!

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  15. I'm 19 years old and I couldn't agree with this post more. I've been so blessed to have been raised by loving, caring parents who took the time to teach me how to cook, knit, sing, etc. Basically, to do things that are productive and benefit the family and not just myself. I can personally testify to the fact that children are not traumatized by chores, work, or productivity. On the contrary, having responsibilities in my home give me a sense of belonging and ministry. Great, great post. Not only did I agree with it, but it convicted me to spend even more of my time being productive and doing kingdom work. :)

    Blessings,

    Grace

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  16. Another straight on on post. Thank you for not shying away from the important things!

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  17. Thank you so very much for posting this!!! I myself needed to be remined of these very truths.

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  18. What a wonderful and challenging post! I am linking to it on my blog. http://www.bootcampforlousyhousekeepers.blogspot.com. You are so right that there are many God-honoring ways to keep children occupied and productive, if we would only take a bit of time to plan.
    I will be looking forward your future posts!
    Heidi

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  19. I could not agree more. Well put. Well explained. Well done offering a fantastic challenge to all parents!

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  20. Thank you--I find your posts truly inspirational, and they always hit home for me. While reading this post I was reminded of my own idleness and how it is spent. Planning ahead is definitely a must!

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  21. This is a really great post, and is really encouraging for me right now! I decided recently to take the tv out of the living room and go tv free for a while. During this time, we are cutting out negative influences that have crept in, and we are learning to do other things with our time, catch up on things that have gotten neglected & get organized, grow in our relationships with God & so much more! Your posts have been so helpful to me lately as I have been learning about biblical femininity, something I knew nothing about before, and am now teaching my two girls! And the timing of this one is perfect! Thank you so much! Your blog has truly been a blessing to me! God bless you!
    Christina

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  22. Such an important topic for a post! Kudos to you for sharing your thoughts on this!

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  23. There's a verse in Proverbs, I believe, about how a child left to himself causes grief to his mother.

    Regarding cell phones, we've come a LONG way from the gossip hounds listening in on party lines. My personal opinion right now is that if our children are away from us long enough to merit owning their own cell phone, then they're away from us too long.

    I have seen new etiquette rules popping up on facebook such as, "texting in front of someone is the same was whispering in front of them." Frankly, I hate sitting down to a conversation with a friend only to have her fingers flying over the keypad on her phone while I'm trying to talk to her.

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  24. Beautifully put! I see a common problem amongst moms--they don't take the time to train. A child does not know how to dust or wash a floor or clean a bath by osmosis! We need to teach them these things and work along side them to make sure the job is done correctly:-)

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  25. This question may have already been answered, but there are a lot of posts to scan and try to find it! :) What age do you start really cutting back on their free time?

    Thanks!
    Sarah

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  26. I disagree. I think this article is for EVERY young person!

    I am a 25-year-old woman who has two issues to deal with: learning how to best use *my* time so that I bring glory and honor to Jesus (because there are many temptations that I face as a young woman) and also learning *now* that when I do marry and have children, I will need to keep my children busy with tasks such as you've described above.

    I will be following your blog because I need to be influenced by women of God like you. Thank you ma'am and God bless you!

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