Yesterday our kids made their own sandwiches and packed their backpacks full of light sabers and nerf guns. They planned a day outside and headed out on their adventure. I watched from the window as they wandered around the yard and then spread out the blanket they had tucked into one of their bags. Laying on their backs, looking at the sky, they ate their sandwiches, imaginations running wild. I couldn’t help but spy on them. They are (almost) 4, 6 and 8. They are young, but just a few years ago, they were 0, 2 and 4. I not only love them, but I like them so much. I like who they’re becoming and I (most of the time) like how they treat each other. 3 kids in 4 years. Do I regret it? Not one bit! Heck, I’d totally recommend it!
Here’s what I’m glad we did during those early years:
•Mandatory Afternoon Quiet Time. As soon as each child stopped napping, somewhere around 3 years old, we started having a “quiet time”every afternoon. For about 1.5 hours, they could play, read books and do basically whatever, as long as they were in their rooms and stayed fairly quiet. My kids have always known this as part of their daily routine and to this day, even on the weekends, we’ll do this. This has been sanity saving and it has definitely allowed for me to have some time to do the dishes, read a little, write or just hear myself think during the day.
•Letting them (mostly) work out their own problems. As moms, it’s tempting to step in and solve everything, but our kids don’t learn anything that way. Our rule is that you need to try and solve it yourself first and then if that doesn’t work, come ask for help.
•Expecting kindness and expecting siblings to treat each other well. I don’t know what it is, but for some reason, I’ve always expected my kids to be good to each other. Yes, they fight, but I’m NOT okay with them being mean. I don’t expect that “kids will just fight”. Yes, they certainly don’t always get along, but sibling relationships are important and just like every other person in the world, we need to treat EVERYONE like they are valued. So, when I pass out things like vitamins, I have the kids serve each other first. Call me crazy, but I’m dead set on expecting them to treat each other well and I always will be.
•Not doing sleepovers or play dates without knowing the family REALLY well. So…we’ve been really cautious and protective in this area. Do I regret it? Not for one second.
•Not putting myself into a box. I loved wearing my babies, but scheduled naps, stayed home and also went out a lot. I delayed vaccines, but still did the ones I feel are important. I wasn’t one “type” of Mom and I’m still not.
•Being part of MOPS and maintaining friendships. Having real-life friendships is so important. Remember when I shared this about MOPS? It’s still true.
•Letting my kids get dirty, be creative and spend lots of time outside. We’ve busted through the knees of so many pants and stained up everything under the sun, but nothing is healthier than creativity and fresh air. Messes stress me out so encouraging the kids to take their creativity outside has been a win for all of us. I think it’s all about finding out how you thrive as a mom and then pairing that with what your children need for a great childhood.
And what do I regret?
•Taking each new “thing” so seriously. Kids go through phases. Sometimes they eat well and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they sleep great and other times, their sleep regresses. I wish I wouldn’t have stressed out so much about small things.
•Not exercising. Even though I lost the baby weight, I didn’t start really exercising consistently until our youngest was about 3. I wish I would’ve known how incredible it would be for me mentally and how STRONG moms can be. I thought strength and fitness were a thing of the past when you became a Mom, but now I realize you can train your body to be stronger than ever, even after growing babies.
•Having more angry moments than I should have. Funny how motherhood can bring out the anger in you, that you didn’t even know existed.
•Not having enough people over for dinner. Somehow along the way, I became self-conscious about how our kids would act or if our guests would have fun. I wish we would’ve had way more dinner parties, even when they were little.
What are you glad you did during the early years? What do you regret?