When my twins were about 16 months old, I had a light bulb moment. I had been researching early potty training, and I had this grand plan to have them introduced at 18 months. My intentions were good. We all want the best for our children, but I realized that I was rushing through stages and milestones. I was forgetting to enjoy the day-to-day moments, and to let them be little.
I always look to the next big thing. You could say it’s a personality flaw, but I’m a planner and a dreamer. I have a passion for doing my best and achieving BIG goals. That’s where I went wrong though. Nurturing a love of learning through play and pushing goals so you can check off items on the growth chart are totally different. I’d say I have fit into both categories at some point.
We rush our kids through so many stages in life, especially these early ones — comparing what our baby can do versus other babies their age. Awesome if your child can count to three at a year and a half old, but it’s OK if mine can’t. I often found myself trying to measure up to other moms who seem to have it all together, and their kids who appear so well-rounded and smart beyond their age.
But it is exhausting, isn’t it? I spent the good part of new motherhood being that mom. I realized one day that I might be doing my children a disservice by planning out every second of the day and focusing so much on overachieving.
Let’s stop spending so much time pushing our kids to do things they may not be ready to do. Let them be little, and let’s cut out the “mompetition” so many of us find ourselves in. Can we all just stop feeling like we need to raise baby geniuses, literary scholars and pro athletes by age 5?
Lean back a little. Love on your kids. Encourage them. Let them choose their dreams. And above all else, support them. I have learned that they’ll turn out just fine if they don’t have a full schedule of play dates, tot school activities, sports and lessons. It is so much more fun to watch their own imagination and interests shine through. Who knows, they might even still win a Nobel Prize one day!
But when they look back on their childhood, they will remember parents who took time to play and take life a little less seriously. And honestly for us, not planning our day around objectives helps us all to feel happier and less-stressed! We’re finding ways to balance it all, but we are definitely focusing more on letting them be little.