My two youngest children started their schoolwork last Monday. From the time they get up until the time they lay their heads on their little pillows to read for an hour before the lights are put out they are occupied. In contrast, when the school year ends I tend to just let them live for free time. We follow the most basic of schedules and we chill. What I have noticed after several years of this on and off schedule is that they are happier when they are occupied, and not just occupied with useless, mindless activities but with activities that mean something. Activities that promote our values, togetherness, bond us together and create the unique thing we call are family. I could set my child in front of a video game. What does that promote? Inactivity and solitude. A book promotes the same thing but in the end if I am careful in choosing the material read, the book will promote values I feel are important while the video game probably promotes values that we don't want to encourage.
By Friday my son was asking if he could go play with his blocks and when told he could, he ran to get them and played for hours. Something he had not done all summer but that after a week of school he could appreciate again. Being well occupied allows us to appreciate down time.
Being well occupied together promotes family, friendship, and bonds us together in ways that nothing else can. Family bike rides, games, and volunteering together for a worthwhile cause serves like heavy duty bondo. We know each other better so we are more likely to have empathy for each other and treat each other kinder.
Families used to be occupied in just putting food on the table. It took the whole family, working togather to produce enough for them to eat all year round. Things are a little different these days but it is important that the children feel like the contribute to the household. This probably will not be in the form of holding down a job and giving over a paycheck to the family but whatever happened to chores and contributing in the basics of what makes life function in your home. You should not be slaving away while your children lay on the couch watching television. Being well occupied benefits everyone.