Originally Published on July 21, 2013
The laundry (dishes, vacuuming, grocery shopping, etc,) will wait. Your kids are only young once. So much wisdom here. So much frustration. Raise your hand if you have ever read a blog or a facebook post with this message. Now raise the other hand if you have ever felt guilty after reading such a post. Now, I realize I can’t see you, but I am imagining more hands up all over the cyber world than there are praising Jesus in a charismatic church on Sunday. I mean, I can’t be the only one. I am officially over this line of thinking and it’s not just because my to-do list is currently longer than a sermon in the aforementioned charismatic church. I blame modern convenience. Travel back with me 100 years ago… If our grandmothers spent the entire day playing with their kids, their families didn’t eat that night. Right? But now, we can cater to every little whim of our darlings and just drive our car right up to a window to get dinner since we didn’t have time to cook. And now, instead of feeling guilty for not spending quality time with our children, we feel guilty about the unhealthy meals we are feeding them. We don’t want that. So the next day, we tackle the grocery shopping, cooking and other household chores with gusto so that the kidlets live in a clean, healthy environment. We all sit down at the polished dinner table and eat grilled fish, steamed veggies, homemade 7 grain bread and fresh picked berries with cream for dessert. As our kids and hubands begin to wonder who we are and what we have done with mom, we begin to feel guilty because the darlings have watched TV and played video games all day. 100 years ago while grandma was doing her chores, she didn’t have to feel guilty about what the kids were doing to entertain themselves. They were reading a book, playing imaginatively with their corn husk doll, or running and jumping outside getting exercise. The only thing to worry about was whether Sally would play so hard that she sullied her new bloomers. Ok. Maybe there was an occasional worry about bears or wolves of something. But guilt? No guilt. And here we are caught in a vicious cycle of it. If it’s not one thing we feel bad about, it’s another. What’s a modern mom to do? I mean, already our kids are less imaginative and more dependent on us than ever. We plan camps and play dates, museum trips, movies, programs and tours to fill up summer days so we don’t have to hear the words, “I’m bored.” I think all of these activities are great, but when we NEVER give our children any down time, we take away their initiative. They don’t have to brainstorm and plan for entertaining themselves. They don’t have to make up games or get out art supplies or read a book. Most kids aren’t entertained by the simple things, because we have given them so many big experiences. Let that sink in for a minute.
I spew all that to admit that I am NOT throwing out my microwave or the kids’ ipads, or our swimming pool passes so that I can play Ma Ingalls on the prairie. I also don’t envision that you are having an Oprahesque AHA moment about joining me on a backwards, backwoods commune. I just wanted to paint a picture (for myself more than anything) as a reminder that my daughters will not die if I don’t take them to 2 activities a day and execute 4 big Martha Stewart crafts with them before summer’s end. In fact, it might even be good for them. The only change I am advocating for is change we can all believe in. NO MORE GUILT. Plan some entertainment, do your chores, and leave the little rascals to their own accord sometimes. We all need balance. Your children included. So make your choices (mostly mindfully, but sometimes out of desperation) and then feel good about them. We are all doing the best we can. Yes, our kids are only young once, but I don’t want my sanity to go the way of their youth.