You’ve probably seen the quote before ; “You only have 18 beautiful summers with your kids.” And it probably felt like a punch to the gut for you too. Like instant anxiety that you’re wasting time and not soaking up enough of this precious time you have with your kids. Like you haven’t done enough activities or made enough memories.
And while I’m sure the quote was written with the beautiful intention of encouraging us to be present and enjoy the little things, I feel like we (ahem, myself) have taken it a bit too far. We’ve created unrealistic expectations for ourselves to live up to. To provide them with every experience that is available to them to make sure that each day is as exciting and magical as the last.
But here’s the thing, life isn’t always going to be exciting. We will not always have friends around to play with, or carnivals and events to attend, and so we’re doing our kids a disservice by not allowing them the opportunity to learn to play and entertain themselves. To play make believe and create an imaginary adventure in the backyard with nothing but a stick and some mud. We’re teaching them that they are entitled to constant entertainment and that this should always be provided for them.
Not to mention the financial strain that these constant activities can include, but there’s also the mental burn out felt by the parents and caretakers who are struggling to keep up with the demands of daily life on top of going to every party and event that comes their way.
Now I should mention that as he’s reading this, my husband is most likely rolling his eyes as I am one of the worst offenders of constantly entertaining my kids. He also swears that he was booted outside the house after breakfast each day to play in the woods until dinner with only nature around him as his entertainment. (I actually believe this) He doesn’t cater to our kids the way I do, and so they are more independant around him. They find their own toys and play their own games since they know it won’t be provided to them whenever they want. For me, the thought of them growing up so quickly is painful and so I fill our days with countless playdates and activities so I can squeeze in a few extra magical moments with them. But today, I woke up exhausted, so we skipped the splash pad to sit on our driveway with our barbies, and I noticed how happy they were. Happy to play without any timeline or structure. They pet the neighbours dogs who walked by, and waved at the cars, and made their own memories playing in the mud.
And so, go easy on yourself, mama. This post isn’t to make you feel bad about building memories with your kids but to remind you not to feel guilty when you don’t have anything special planned that day. The most beautiful thing about these kids is their wild imagination and sometimes they just need a little boredom to get there.