A couple of months ago, I ran into a friend that had moved away. We both have 4-year-olds and I hadn’t seen her since our kids were 2. We caught up a little bit and even tried to plan a play date. As we tried to pick a date via text, it was very apparent that she and her child were very VERY busy. My friend’s child is in dance, music lessons, gymnastics, had church commitments and went to preschool 5 days a week.
After our encounter, I felt a little bad for my kids. Maybe they weren’t doing enough. There’s such a drive in American society for kids to get a head start on their future whether that be education or extracurricular activities. I started talking to my husband about what activities we could sign our 4 year old up for but we came to the conclusion that in between our home remodel, church attendance, small group coordination, and various other activities, we didn’t have that kind of time on our end. Not to mention it would be nice if we could save a few coins.
There are so many free/cheap things in our area to do with young children and I’ve taken advantage of most if not all of them. As my son gets ready to start kindergarten next year, I’ve become hyper aware that my “unlimited” time with him is ending. Next fall he’ll be with a new teacher, new classmates, and a new school without his mom. (Not that anything is wrong with that. I’ve already passed kindergarten. 😜) The days of our flexible schedules are coming to a close. He will now have new people influencing his life that have not been approved by his parents. My hope is that in these 5 short years that my husband and I have laid a good foundation of morals, manners and critical thing (if that’s even possible right now) for him to make the right choices as he begins elementary school next year.
In the meantime, I’ve decided that I just want him and his sister to have fun. Let them play with play dough, write with chalk, chase each other, and use their imaginations. I’ve said it a 1,000 times and I’ll probably say it 1,000 more life is short and time is going by entirely TOO fast. Even being a stay at home mom, I can’t spend ALL my time playing with my kids. There are errands, making dinner, paying bills, laundry and various other obligations. It can be easy to get caught up in running around and doing things, extracurriculars included, that a person can miss being present in their everyday life.
So if you are like my friend that I mentioned at the beginning of this story, there’s no judgment here from me. Do what’s best for your family and your life. There are enough negativie comments and mommy shamming going around and I want no part in it. On the flipside, there’s nothing wrong with children just being little kids and using their imaginations. Sometimes I think we can get so caught up in activities that we busy away our short childhoods.
When my son was 2 and in his first year of preschool, the theme of their Christmas program was “Let Them Be Little”. All the songs were basically about little kids being little kids and focused on the preciousness of childhood. Which if you’ve ever been to a preschool program they are equally precious, adorable and hilarious all in one. I‘ve alluded to it in a few different blogs but I’ve been cutting back on a few things as of late and still felt entirely too busy.
Earlier this week, my son brought home some play dough that his teacher had made for their class. I told the kids to take it outside at their picnic table since it was nice weather. There are some things that my kids enjoy that I am not so fond of. Like playdough. It can stick to furniture and get ingrained in the carpet like none other. But as I watched them play, I was so in awe of their little 4 and 2-year-old selves, how much they had grown from infancy and admired their individuality. My son was making coins out of the dough while my daughter was focused on making a giraffe with a cookie cutter. There is so much innocence in children and I don’t want to rush them into growing up to fast. This time in their lives won’t last forever. So hear my heart. It’s fine if your kids are in a bunch of activities but if you want to hang out with me and my kids we’ll probably be outside (as long as we can be) or doing some free or thrifty. 💖