I’ll admit I have a Type A personality. I want structure. I want organization. I want a schedule, AND I want you to stick to it. All of these things made it very difficult having children in the house.
Children don’t like organization. They don’t plan ahead. They very much fly by the seat of their pants. They do enjoy schedules, which is why to some extent it is important to have a rough idea of what you want your day to look like (i.e. when nap times are), but not to the point that you’re pulling your hair out.
Some days I wish my days were perfectly organized. I wish that I had all three meals planned out before the kids woke up. I wish that I had preschool curriculum printed, along with fun activities that inspired learning and imagination…and none of these are bad things to want. But I got to a point where I started to feel down on myself when I didn’t achieve those things. Is that you, too?
I compared my abilities to the activities I was pinning on Pinterest. I compared myself to the perfectly put together pictures on Instagram. I compared myself to the mom that had it all together on Facebook. And later, because I wasn’t living up to those expectations I created for myself, I was down and depressed – and my children suffered for it.
My children were suffering for something they had no control over, and didn’t even want. They didn’t want the Pinterest perfect activities, they just wanted to play with mommy. They didn’t care about being tidied up for an Instagram-worthy photo, they wanted to play in the dirt regardless of if they still looked cute. They didn’t care about any of that stuff I was stressing over. What they cared about was if mommy was happy.
And that’s when I figured out that my job as mommy right now is to help them have fun. My job is to teach them kindness, through play. My job is to encourage them to learn, by having fun. My job right now is not to stress over the imperfection. My children will pick up on that, and honestly – the world will teach them to obsess over imperfection soon enough. Why would I want to be that example to them?
I’ve found that there is freedom in having fun like a child. There’s freedom in giggling until you get the hiccups, or rolling down a grassy hill. These things aren’t immature. And as parents we shouldn’t see ourselves as being “above” doing those things. There will be too many times in their lives, I’m afraid, that someone will tell our children to “stop being silly,” or to “grow up.”
They will learn structure in school, so don’t stress over your days now not being fully structured. They will work through their tantrums and sharing with others through group activities. They will learn to keep themselves clean and not step in puddles – but with that comes comparing themselves to others and really evaluating their place in the world. I don’t know about you, but I desperately want to preserve their innocence for as long as I can.
So if that means that “all we did today” was play in the pool, and be silly with each other, than so be it.