it doesn't take much y'all
I had this idea of what life would look like before we actually brought the gremlins into the world. Birthday parties that were a grand affair (and absolutely did not involve a cake from Costco you ordered two days before the party). Picturesque vacations and Pinterest crafts. Creating memories for our babies every weekend and holiday break. The same babies who would appreciate every experience and never ever dare meltdown in public. They would however, shower me with thanks and love for all that I gave them. If you're a seasoned Mom, let us chuckle together. If you're fresh, don't let that statement kill your Momma spirit. Keep reading.
When I say it, I mean it. There does not have to be a grand gesture accompanying the core memories. Do not let the pressure of [snap shots] on social media convince you that you are not doing enough. And, if you're overwhelmed by the idea of creating the "perfect experience" for your kids, or maybe you just can't afford to take them to the beach this year, let me give you a small snippet of wisdom. This isn't something I learned from parenting alone. It has come from many years of working with kids, teaching kids, and raising them too. THEY DO NOT CARE HOW EXTRAVAGANT THE ADVENTURE IS. They just care that there was one. And, that you were right there with them.
Yes, if you have the means, and it's your desire to load those babies up and head to see the Mouse. DO IT. We plan to go. This is not me ragging on the grand gesture by any means. This is just me putting it out there, they will have fantastic memories, even if they never see that Mouse.
With all that being said, I just wanted to share some simple little things that have felt really big to our crew lately.
- Bike/Scooter rides. This is a big deal to our boys because we live in the sticks with a gravel drive. We mix it up by taking them to a variety of places to ride. I recommend college campuses on slow weekends, downtown areas, state parks, your local park, even a near by parking lot if it's empty and the owners do not mind. The bonus, I don't really have to entertain the kids. My husband and I just follow behind and get to talk and spend time together while they scooter along. We bring a ball a lot of times and will take breaks to throw it. Or, just explore the area.
- A cheap projector and a Firestick. I think ours cost $70 on amazon. Outdoor Theatre, Bedroom Theatre, Bathtub Theatre, the theatre options are really endless. (Fyi, I use it everynight to watch trash TV in the tub. Just a pro-tip for my fellow Mom's who escape to the tub after the kids go to bed.) For us to go to the movies as a family of 5, it gets a little pricey. And, the little one has the attention span of a toaster. But, pair that projector with some popcorn and hot chocolate on a freshly made bed with their favorite lovey, or next to the fire pit on a fall night, and man- CORE MEMORY. I love to use this one when I want the kids to have an experience, but I'm swamped with work or chores. Not that I don't love being fully present, but sometimes that's just unrealistic.
- Tent camping aka Tamping. Invest in a tent, take them "camping". State parks are so inexpensive and anyone (yes, even you) can camp for ONE night. Because, we already have all of the "gear" (we are not experts, pro campers would probably laugh at what I'm calling gear), we can take the kids anytime. But, hear me out, you can also pitch a borrowed tent in your backyard. You can read a story by flashlight and only have to trek through the back door to use the bathroom. Make a s'more and roast a hotdog. Or don't, order pizza and just eat it outside. Heck, break out that projector you bought too!
- Together projects. Right now we are stuck on building lego sets. Our oldest LOVES this, and he loves doing it with us. We request them as gifts for Christmas and birthdays and store them away for rainy days or just becuase. I also break out the standard lego box so the littlest boy can build his own creations alongside us. It does't have to be legos. It can be bracelet making or finger paint. Just make some time and immerse yourself in their world and their interests. I know, the time thing is the hard part. My husband had to set a 30 minute time just this week to accommodate a promised lego build. But, even if it's just 30 minutes a week, it counts.
- Cooking/Baking/Making. Let them "handle" dinner. We are a big fan of the "Make your own pizza". It hasn't gotten old yet. Otherwise, this one is pretty self explanatory.
- READ. It is my personal opinion, but I think our kids will gain more from the 15 minutes we read with them [almost] every night, than any other family activity. IT IS FREE. It is not time consuming. It is an always accessible, at your fingertips, adventure. Get a library card! They will always remember that we read with them, and I hope they will love it so much they pass down the tradition and read with their kids. It is never too early or too late to start. Reading with our three year old can look a lot like me reading while he uses my body as a personal playground. That is okay. Reading with my 6 year old means a lot of Star Wars and other things I have no interest in. Pretend. Major shout out to my husband on this one, he does most of the story time around here.
There's tons of more ideas out there. These are just a few things that we actually do. And, no, our kids are not always great at showing their appreciation. Sometimes, after we have poured into their day, and we have taken them on the adventure, they will still pout and say we ruined their day. Why? Because we said no to Ice Cream or made them go to bed instead of watching the second movie. We know better. Tomorrow they'll be reliving the experience talking about it non-stop. Sometimes kids act like turds. So, don't be discouraged for the times you've tried so hard and they did you dirty at the end of the day. Keep creating the simple memories, keep showing grace, and maybe square up every now and then. (Joking, kind of.) Anyway, get off the Facebook, go spend time with the babies, I hear it all passes really really fast.