As you can see in the progression above, my children are growing up the best of friends. The kind of friends that every parent wishes their children to be, with very little fighting but gales and fits of laughter with just about every interaction. A friendship that makes me want to cry happy tears and hug them both so tight so as to never let them ever grow out of this stage... this closeness... this love of family.
But, with two kids spaced close together, I will admit that oftentimes I am so stuck on my to-do list that I am not very present in the moment. With a daughter like mine who thrives on the spontaneous, I try and make sure we slow down at least a few times a day to enjoy the little things. Because the little things are anything but little to her – to her, they are everything.
I have to keep reminding myself that we will never get these days back and my children won't get another childhood. I need to give them as much love and happiness as I can while I still have them here with me to take them through their own stress and hard times ahead. Here's just a couple of "rules" I created for myself to help me live in the moment and #cherishchildhood.
- Never say no to vintage photo booth pictures. I love our digital photography world that allows us to delete the outtakes in one click, but there’s something really cool about capturing life when there’s no retakes. Photo booths give the perfect opportunity for getting a glimpse at our lives without having to mess with developing pictures or waiting for prints to come back.
- Go camping. Camping is essential to childhood, especially in this digital age with screens everywhere you look. Sometimes it’s nice to leave the screens behind and truly connect as a family.
- Don’t surrender your nights. It’s easy to get caught up in the grind of the work week and focus on making sure everyone is showered and to bed on time. But, I refuse to give up 5 nights of the week, so we try and sneak in fun on weeknights whenever possible. Even if it’s just to the beach for a half hour or we go and watch the sunset somewhere, it’s a memory we wouldn’t have made if we were sitting at home going down a to-do list.
- Don’t forget to laugh. We all know that the sound of our children’s laughter is one of the finest joys in life but, for kids, hearing their parent’s laughter is just as important.
- Nurture a love of travel. Traveling together is a great way to really get to know who your kids are and a great way to show them about the world while also learning about themselves at the same time.
- Let them cook. Cooking with kids is messy, but it’s also incredibly important to let them make messes sometimes. Besides, how can they make you breakfast in bed if they have never cooked a day in their life.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. Sure, you have bills, stress, and deadlines, but who doesn't? Your kids need you, all of you... especially during times of stress.
- Picnics can happen just about anywhere, and they should. You don't need a fancy blanket or a huge meal, you just need to be willing to be adventurous and think outside the box.
- Fresh air is good for the soul, and even better for conversation. Kids open up when you get them outside, which gives you yet another reason to get your family out and keep them active.
- Never forget how to play. You don't need fancy toys or instructions, you just need a good imagination and a love of adventure and the whole world will be your playground. Never let your view shrink so you don't see the play opportunities in the everyday.
Gymboree created a beautiful new video about taking the time to Cherish Childhood and the result is a tear jerker. Every parent should watch this and take it to heart. Because today we play.