Parenting is the definition of on-the-job training. Babies don’t come with manuals…and even though the countless parenting books on my nightstand and bookshelf try to prove otherwise, not one single source has all the answers. This fact may also come as a surprise to well-meaning strangers, gawkers, and self-proclaimed experts, but I digress…
I started this blog nearly six years ago in an effort to hold myself accountable to the time I had at home with my kids. I would have never guessed how it would have grown in the course of these six years. Although I hope it serves as encouragement to parents to spend meaningful time with their children, I never, ever want my readers to feel like I have all the answers when it comes to parenting.
Here’s the real truth: I am probably the most imperfect parent you know.
I can be selfish and terribly impatient.
I can be lazy…and sometimes (probably far more than I would like to admit) I just want my kids to do their own thing and leave me alone.
I sometimes yell at my kids and get frustrated easily (actually while in the process of writing this post).
I don’t always follow my own advice…there are some days every now and then where we don’t read a single book throughout the course of the day! And we certainly don’t do “learning activities” every day!
I am not sharing these things like they are a badge of honor. My shortcomings are certainly not something to be proud of. I am well aware of my failures and pray daily for God to help me overcome my selfishness to become the mother that He desires for my children to have…someone who gives love and grace and who always strives to put herself last. But I also felt like I needed to write this post, especially since many of this narrative is not written into the activity posts I share.
I don’t know if it is wisdom or just sheer exhaustion, but I have become a little bit of a slacker mom as the years have progressed. And honestly, I am just plain tired of over-the-top crafts and activities… I’m just plain done making my kid’s childhood magical.
When I first started this blog when my boys were 2 1/2 and 6 months old, I thought it was absolutely imperative that young children be educationally stimulated every single day. As a first grade teacher, I saw the large discrepancy between children who had been read to and played with on a daily basis and those who didn’t have as nurturing of home environments.
As a new mom, I was much more structured and disciplined to do activities with my oldest than I was with my second born (and now third born). I have often felt guilty for not doing nearly as many activities with Little Brother. But guess what…he is the most creative of all of my children and is doing well in school!
If I’m totally honest…many of the activities that I share on this blog I would not have done if it wasn’t for the fact that I blogged about it. This blog has become my “job” and so a bit of the authenticity has been lost along the way.
So today, I’m giving myself the advice that most of you much wiser than I am have probably already figured it out: It’s okay to be a slacker parent. In some ways, anyway.
I will consider it one of the greatest joys of my life if we end up raising kids who have “average” abilities but who loves Jesus and love others with their whole hearts. I am not worried about my kids being the top of their class, stellar athletes, speaking three languages, or becoming a concert pianist. I want them to be kind to others, know they are loved by God and by us, and work hard at whatever they set out to do.
I am telling myself to focus on what matters most: giving your child love, grace (I’m majorly working on this one), and your time and attention. Read to your child because you both enjoy the snuggles. Play a board game that is fun for the both of you. Put down the structured activities and have a tea party. Go on a walk because it is an opportunity to talk about colors in nature. Practice ABC’s because your child has shown an interest. Most of all, show them Jesus and how to love others in as many ways as possible.
And let the rest of it go. The Pinterest-perfect birthday parties, the hurried schedule, the perfectly coiffed thematic activities, the cute gourmet lunches with toothpicks. Let. it. go.