I live in your typical suburban neighborhood.
(Sorry, I too wish I could say farm or on a mountainside.)
The one thing I am constantly reminded of is how over-scheduled children are today.
One friend is talking about that every night of the week, she has to get her kids to piano, swimming, soccer, piano, and basketball respectively. As well as games every weekend.
Another mom complains that she is exhausted from running to get her children from school to piano and then off the practice in the play, the next night soccer, and the night after that basketball.
All I can think is, “If you are exhausted from just getting your kids from Point A to Point B–how do your kids feel?”
In the Beginning
Back when my children were very little, there was mommy and me, play-dates, mom’s clubs meetings. I felt like I had to go to all of them.
I was harried trying to do all this “important social stuff.”
The perpetual societal pressure to do more… More… MORE.
The pressure to be the perfect brownie-baking-crafting-social-diva mom and have perfect-Mensa-genius-artist-well-mannered kids mounted.
The kids didn’t like running from place to place or constantly having to play with other kids that sometimes they just didn’t like.
They wanted to hangout in the backyard, go for a hike, build a fort, or play in a creek.
They didn’t want to be constantly going.
Learning the Hard Way
It all came crashing to an end one day.
I was frantically trying to get two children under the age of five out the door, so we would be on time.
See, I still had 8-5 work mode in my brain and you were NEVER EVER late for a meeting which meant you were always at least 15 minutes early.
The kids were crying. I was on the verge of bursting into tears and frustrated and anxious and exhausted and trying to get them buckled into their car seats.
I stopped and wondered “What am I doing?“
This is ridiculous. I have created all of this stress.
We don’t need to go to this meeting. I don’t really even want to go to this meeting.
I’ve created this emotional mess of a life. I’ve done this to myself and to the kids.
And, for what purpose?
I don’t have to go to this meeting.
I’m not going to be in trouble if I don’t go or arrive late. We haven’t promised anyone we would be there. No one was counting on us.
I unbuckled the kids from their car seats and ushered everyone back in the house.
Next Stop Candyland
I got down on my knees so I was eye level with the kids. I took their little hands in mine.
“I’m so sorry for all this stress. What do you want to do today?”
They tackle-hugged me and said in unison, “Play Candyland and Hi Ho Cherry O.”
We played Candyland and Hi Ho Cherry O for the rest of the morning.
They said they wanted to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We ate PBJ sandwiches that were a squished by small fingers but tasted delicious.
We went for a Follow the Leader Hike. Mimicking the antics of the leader. I recall being a giraffe, ape, kangaroo, and a choo-choo train. Thankfully–not all at once.
Our imaginations ran around free and wild.
We made castles from foam blocks and houses from Legos.
We colored using all 64 Crayons from the 64-pack of Crayons
with the sharpener built-in. (The coolest pack of Crayons ever invented.)
It was wonderful. It was what we needed.
We giggled. We laughed.
But most of all, we enjoyed spending time with each other.
Take Back the Memories
My challenge is for you to take back the moments with your loved ones.
Block off time and ask them, “What do you want us to do together today?” The one caveat is, of course, no screen time.
Maybe you’ll bake a cake from scratch, go for a hike, paint with watercolors, tell stories, build a fort, play boardgames, cover the driveway in chalk drawings, or read stories together.
Whatever you do, enjoy the moments you spend together making memories and by all means laugh and giggle a lot.