There's no population quite like children.
We were all there once.
We should all be experts.
But it's a speck of our lifetime that we are all granted access to just by being born but then somehow, without our choosing, we all need to exit. We get off of that ride and hop onto another one.
Luckily enough, we get to keep the warm memories that were made in childhood.
I hope that yours included cookies out of the oven and not worrying about calories.
Dirty clothes from an afternoon outside and no worries about how much those pants cost.
Writing notes to your friends and no worry of it making it onto social media.
Of course when we are kids we all can't wait to grow up.
And don't get me wrong, there are magnificent lessons and freedoms in every stage. But there's nothing quite like being a child. There are things about being a child...lessons we can reach back and tightly grab and bring back with us to adulthood. Reminders for when we are not having so much fun paying bills, carpooling, food shopping and cleaning.
These are the a few of the best parts of being a child:
1.) Children get excited about little things.
Give any 2nd grader a new sheet of stickers and you just made their day. 10 extra minutes of recess? You're the nicest person in the world. Extra dessert after dinner? It is the best day of their lives!
2.) Children are sponges for new information:
For some reason as we get older, we lose the bravery to try new things. We worry that we will look silly or we get frustrated that it is taking us too long to master something. But kids just love it all! Science facts and experiments, learning new dances like The Floss (and then proceeding to show it off no matter the venue or audience!) No, you don't need to break out new dance moves in public, but whether you read, chat, watch documentaries or take a workshop, never stop soaking in information!
3.) Children are forgiving:
Yes, they may giggle if you mispronounce a word or make a mistake, but they are not judging you. They really don't care! They'll forget all about it within the next 5 seconds. And even if they don't forget, they still think you know 90% of the world's information!
4.) Children are moldable:
Although they are their own little people with their own opinions and habits, they are open to ours. The caution here of course is to make sure that you are demonstrating good ones. I often talk to my kids about the benefits of meditation and exercise and that we are all made of energy that cannot be destroyed so to put more positive energy out there than negative. They may ask questions and take only the parts that they like, but the neatest thing is being able to talk to your kids about being honest, kind, healthy and magical little people and then watch them try!
5.) Children remind us to slow down:
Children don't care that the floor needs to be vacuumed or that there is unfolded laundry on top of the dryer. We do. And believe me, as someone who physically and mentally feels exuberant when my house is clean, my kids remind me to chill out and enjoy myself and them before getting up the next morning and jumping back on the hamster wheel of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. This one is a work in progress for me, but I am trying to catch myself more often and mentally tell myself "Go be with your kids....they're more exciting than dirty dishes."
6.) When it comes down to it, all they REALLY want is your time:
No child will tell you that they don't need, want or get excited at the prospect of getting new toys. But I have learned, especially as my kids get older that the thing that trumps STUFF to them, is me. Just me and my time and attention; eye contact when they are talking, reading a book to them in their beds at night, playing a round or two of Skip Bo, sitting on my son's beanbag chair with him and watching 10 minutes of TV, dancing with my daughter... I often ask myself "Why is this so hard?" when I'm in the midst of one of those special moments. The truth is, it's not hard and it's so much more enjoyable then all of the things I busy myself with 'having' to do. Yes, the lunches need to get made and baths need to be given, but I try to find a balance of work and play on the nights that I can. Then on those crazy nights, I know it's ok because they do get all of me when they can. The effort matters so much to them.
I know it all sounds good in theory. I know too that you believe in all of it; the importance of time with your kids. I know that there are nights where you cannot sit down, you don't have patience, you just want to be alone and have a to-do list longer than the hours left in the day! Don't guilt yourself on those nights. Just try to steal the little moments when you can.
When you evaluate your to-do list and mentally say "I technically could sit for 5 minutes". Do it.
Or when you are texting back your mother, but your daughter is asking you a question. Just look up for 4 seconds and answer her while seeing her. My daughter taught me this when she one day said "Look at me while I'm talking to you!" Whoa! Good point, my little 6 year old.
I sometimes find that the tape in my head is on automatic replay saying "I can't!", "I don't have time!", "This is going to take forever!". (eye roll) So dramatic....
When I notice it, I tell it to shut up. Some nights it's accurate, but most nights it's just habit.
I read an article once about how we only have 19 summers with our kids before we have to share them with the world. I think of this often when my "I don't have time!!!" soundtrack is playing. It puts me in check.
Do your best and let the rest go. Enjoy your kids. Enjoy your own days. Don't save it all for when your house is quiet and clean....and empty. Don't be so hard on yourself. Your kids aren't going to be.
What is your favorite thing about your children?