Is There a Right Way to Spend Time with Your Kids?
My dad worked all day, everyday. My mom had to juggle 3 kids by herself. There was no such thing as spending one-on-one time with us. I won't find pictures of mother and daughter dates in our family albums. Nor do I have sweet memories of father and daughter dances. We were lucky when we had family outings, so we definitely weren't complaining about one-on-one time, but I did grow up knowing I was loved.
Back in the day when I was a kid, for the most part, parents were strictly concerned about the basics: making sure that we had food on the table and a roof over our heads, in addition to love, security, and a good education. There wasn't Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter, so my parents didn't know that "Suzie" took her son on a date minutes after she arrived home from work.
Today, we have an influx of information, ideas, and activities at our fingertips, and in so many ways I am so very grateful, but in other ways it's overwhelming. I go on Facebook and see that "blogger Shelley" just posted some amazing pictures of her zoo trip. So yes, I'm motivated to get out of the house with the kids but I'm also feeling a tinge of guilt because I haven't planned anything for them in weeks.
I turn to Pinterest for help. I search to find some zoo scavenger hunt ideas. (The idea of a zoo trip quickly morphed into the idea of a scavenger hunt.) During my search, I discover moms who have not only put together scavenger hunts for their kids, but they also made detective costumes, and homemade spy glass cookies. So after hours of eye candy on Pinterest, I feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and end up with even less time to spend with my kids.
For the most part, I don't struggle with feeling jealous or envy of others' activities (not that I've never experienced it, but it's not an issue in my life), but my problem is the guilt. Also, I am an innovator. I see an idea, start to think and envision its awesomeness, and then I figure out how I could change it to work for my family. Before you know it, my simple zoo outing turned into a Detective Zoo Party. I walk away feeling stressed about what I have added to my plate in a matter of 15 minutes, all from a simple Facebook post (I tend to get a little out of hand).
So you see, my parents didn't have Pinterest.
My parents didn't have a lot of spare time on their hands.
My parents made the most of our meals together.
My parents loved me and they spent every little moment they could get with us. Even in the little times we had as a family, my father was very intentional with those moments. So even though I don't have memories of my mother planning amazing play dates for me and my other 5-year-old friends, or sentimental photos of my father taking me on a daddy-daughter date, I do recall the most fundamental basics of our time together as a family - that they loved me.
They will always love me. I always went to bed with a full tummy and a roof over my head. They guided me with their words of wisdom, their love for God, and their desire to help others. They made sure we were secure to the best of their ability. They made sure I took advantage of the education I was given.
It makes me think that maybe our generation thrives on activity. Honestly, I do. I love activities but in the middle of it all, I forget the lost art of just being together. Like enjoying the small moments that we have during the day: eating breakfast, homework time, the bedtime routine, nap time, changing a diaper, getting ready for school, the car rides to and from activities…
It makes me take note of how I need a good dose of the basics on those days when I'm feeling hurried or stressed, and my kids are exhausted from a full schedule of activities.
I struggle with having too many ideas and feeling overwhelmed, so I have to learn to keep it low-key, and realize it's okay if my date with my 3-year-old is 15 minutes of focused time on doing whatever he wants. It doesn't need to be elaborate. By the way, I do date my children, and I do think it's a wonderful tradition. We've enjoyed lots of family fun dates that I've mentioned here though some were a disaster for the very reason I mentioned above. We also have one-on-one dates, because that's how my kids feel loved (my love language is "time", so that's how I try to demonstrate it).
What are ways that you're sticking to the basics? How has this helped your kids feel loved? Stop by my Facebook page and let me know. Also, make sure you join our free Carpe Diem-Family Style Facebook group to get tips and get encouraged on your journey to making the most of your time with kids.
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Photo Credit: Mari Hernandez-Tuten
- By Mari Hernandez-Tuten