Post-Pandemic Hopes for Kids’ Unstructured Time

Another Reason Why Bozeman Cohousing Offers a Great Neighborhood to Raise Kids

Before the pandemic, one thing that most Americans did not have enough of was unstructured time. In the culture of “more is better,” we tend to over-schedule our children and ourselves. For children, there are so many amazing opportunities in Bozeman. Cross country ski lessons on weeknights and downhill lessons on the weekends. There are rock climbing classes, gymnastics, dance and swimming. There is pressure for music lessons and also for something “fun” like circus camp or pottery.

Of course our children love hanging out with their friends and the energetic teachers at these activities. The result, though, is that there aren’t many kids hanging out at the park after school. The sidewalks are mostly empty of bikes, scooters and tricycles. If you walk outside on a Saturday afternoon, most neighborhoods are quiet. Even parents who resist organized activities end up with a handful of classes for their children because where else are they going to find other children to play with?

Since the pandemic, many of us have more unstructured time than we know what to do with. The organized activities are cancelled. Kids are playing in their backyards and riding bikes. Sadly, many of them are doing it alone in order to maintain social distancing.

It need not always be this way, however. What if we don’t sign our kids up for so many activities? What if we send them outside to romp in the neighborhood like we did as children? As a kid, I knew where every other kid in my neighborhood lived. My siblings and I would do the rounds, ringing doorbells to find enough participants for capture the flag. Today, most of us aren’t comfortable with youngsters roaming even a few blocks from home. There are roads to cross and we don’t know many of our neighbors.

Post-pandemic, I look forward to a neighborhood where we regularly hear children playing, a neighborhood in which we know our neighbors’ kids, and the adults alike. 

Bozeman Cohousing is building an old-fashioned type of neighborhood where kids can roam, and with the added twist of a car-free interior so that parents can relax. In such a neighborhood, it won’t be long before kids are wanting to skip soccer practice so they can play soccer with their friends on the green. And instead of loading everyone up to drive to karate class and return to pick them up an hour later, parents can spend quality time with other adults in the neighborhood and playing with their kids.

Read more about Kids & Cohousing.