I don't know if we can say this often enough, but what your kids (especially the little ones) need more than pre-school and "enriched" activities, is time to play freely. Not play dates. Free play. You know, like you used to do when you were a kid. Here's why (and please excuse the jargon):

Researchers have a raft of explanations for why kids are so stressed out, from a breakdown in family and community relationships, to the rise of technology and increased academic stakes and competition. Inequality is rising and poverty is debilitating.

Twenge has observed a notable shift away from internal, or intrinsic goals, which one can control, toward extrinsic ones, which are set by the world, and which are increasingly unforgiving.

Gray has another theory: kids aren’t learning critical life-coping skills because they never get to play anymore.

“Children today are less free than they have ever been,” he told Quartz. And that lack of freedom has exacted a dramatic toll, he says.

“My hypothesis is that the generational increases in externality, extrinsic goals, anxiety, and depression are all caused largely by the decline, over that same period, in opportunities for free play and the increased time and weight given to schooling,” he wrote.

I'm rushing around this morning and my husband has a conference call scheduled soon. So instead of trying to cram too much homeschooling in a morning that's already too tight, I've shifted the homeschooling to this afternoon and tonight in the car on the way to the cottage (we read world history and discuss what's in the book, it's really cool), and I set them free to play until lunch. I know free play is crucial for children and yet I still feel a small something resembling guilt when I close the books and send them outside to run around in the sun. I'm not saying this is easy. We have a lot of work to do to get back to a healthier place, when it comes to our children's mental health and development. But it's work well worth doing.