Why am I always trying so hard to rush my kids to grow up? I put a lot of pressure on them to be “big” and do things for themselves.
That’s not always a bad thing. I know they need to learn eventually and if I’m always doing everything for them they never will. But sometimes I wonder if I’m stealing their childhood.
Is society’s sense of urgency making me parent that way?
When my kids were babies, I just wanted the sleepless nights to end.
Everyone would say things like:
“Enjoy the baby snuggles while you can. They’ll be gone before you know it.”
But I was secretly searching baby books for answers about when it would end.
I wanted to know what age they had to be when I wouldn’t have to wake them to feed them anymore. Then I wanted to know how much they needed to weigh before they could sleep through the night. Once I read that when a baby weighs about 12 lbs they can last all night without feeding. I became obsessed with how much they weighed after that.
When they were between 2 and 3 years old, I was researching what age to start potty training so that we could get out of diapers.
Once they were able to eat solid food, I was waiting for the day they’d be able to feed themselves. Then I was counting down the days until they’d be in school full time, so I could really get a break.
I think my youngest has probably felt this the most. Without realizing it, I compare what he can do to what his big brother can do. But I forget that his brother is almost 3 years older. I assume that because my oldest can go to the bathroom by himself, so should he.
I forget that he’s at a different stage developmentally and being potty trained is still a new-ish skill for him. As much as I want him to wipe himself and remember to wash his hands with soap without being reminded, he is only 5!
Can We Just Slow It Down?
Last week I had a moment where I realized I need to stop rushing my kids to grow up though. You know those moments as a mom where you feel like you just want time to stand still?
The ones where you picture your kids leaving for college and you realize that everyone was right….Your days where your kids are at home with you are numbered. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get sentimental like this often, but every now and then I do.
Sometimes I worry that my 5 -year-old missed out on a lot of the things that little kids are into like Mickey Mouse and Elmo. When he wanted to watch preschool shows, his brother would tell him they were for babies. Since he thinks his big brother hung the moon, he stopped asking to watch those shows. He graduated right to super heros and Sponge Bob at age 3!
Goodbye Too Soon?
A few years ago, we realized that our kids were both really interested in Legos. The younger one was able to put together regular size Lego sets, so we decided to get rid of all of our duplo Legos. Ever since then, my youngest has asked why we had to get rid of them.
This year, he asked for more for Christmas. When I was helping with the holiday party in his classroom, I noticed that he went right to the Duplo legos during the free play time. Plus any time I ask him what he does during centers at school, he says that he plays with the duplos.
So Santa got him a set of duplo Legos. They must be his favorite gift because he has played with them over and over again. Instead of spending a few hours putting together a Lego set and then losing interest when it’s done, he creates something new every day.
Last week I noticed that the instruction booklet that came in the duplo Lego box had a piece missing. The missing piece was the part that said the age range was 1 ½ +.
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I know the plus sign after the 1 ½ is open-ended, but I wondered if my 5-year-old read it differently. Did he think his brother would think he’s a baby for playing with them?
It made me realize that he might need permission to just be 5. He might need me to give that to him. So I thought of a few things I can do.
6 Tips For Giving Your Child Permission To Be A Kid:
- Build-in time for pretend play. Sometimes if I’m not careful, my kids will go days in a row where they don’t actually play with their toys. We’re always rushing from one activity to the next after school and on the weekends. Then when we’re at home, it’s easy to just turn on the tv or let my kids play endless amounts of video games. I “try” to set limits on screentime and when that time is up, I tell them to go in their play room and play. Sometimes they resist and complain that they’re bored, but I show them how they can use their imagination.
- Play more. My goal is to actually sit down and play with my kids, when I can, at least 30 minutes a week. During this time, I make sure to turn off all devices and play whatever they want me to.
- Organize their toys and make them easier to find. By helping my son find his Paw Patrol and PJ Mask characters and putting them in a special place, he’s more likely to go play with them when he’s bored.
- Talk about how it’s ok to like toys or shows that older siblings might say are for babies. I’ve had to remind my 5-year-old often that he’s not a baby even if he likes different things than his brother.
- Watch Peter Pan and sing ‘I’ll never grow up’. This one’s a classic and always makes me wish I was still a kid.
In the end, I also have to stop putting so much pressure on myself to be the perfect mom and feeling guilty about how I might’ve messed up. Deep down, I know that I’m doing the best I can and my kids know how much I love them.
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