Back before I had kids, I had this image of what our time together would look like when they were older. I could see my daughter and I making time-consuming beautiful crafts. I could see my boys and I putting together massive Lego creations and then admiring them. Images flooded my mind of us sitting down at the table and playing games, eating popcorn, and laughing. There was no stress, no bickering, only smiles and joy.
But, The Reality Is…
You can imagine my surprise when none of these images were accurate. My daughter and I do make crafts, but they rarely turn out the way Pinterest said they would. My boys and I play endless hours of Legos, and then the boys battle and the creations fall apart. Then I step on them and say a few choice words under my breath.
And let’s talk about game night! It sounds fun, but I actually find playing games to be somewhat painful. Usually, the youngest wins and he goes crazy and the other two kids cry and whine and we all end up walking away mad about something. My visions of wholesome family fun were not exactly the way I pictured them before I had kids. I felt defeated and like maybe I wasn’t doing this mom thing right. I blamed myself and my lack of patience and I made myself feel horrible. What was I doing wrong? Why was having fun with my kids so hard?
It’s Not About Right and Wrong
The truth is, it took me a very long time to actually realize that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I was doing exactly what my kids needed me to do: sit down and pay attention to them. It didn’t need to be fancy or planned or well thought out. It just needed to be time together. I was putting so much pressure on myself to make the time with them “perfect” that I was missing out on just enjoying being near them.
It Really Is Present…Not Perfect
Once I let go of our activities being “perfect” then they actually started to become fun. The crafts are messy and sometimes fall apart and make no sense. But, my daughter loves our “girl time” and could care less what we make. My boys still leave Legos all over the place, but we now keep them in one room so I am fully prepared before I step anywhere. Game night turned into just game time whenever we feel like it. We don’t need a schedule; we just play a game when we feel like it. Keep it simple and try to keep the tears away!
My kids will never look back on their childhood and think “mom really was terrible with crafts.” Hopefully, they will remember a mom who loved them enough to make time to spend with them and just be present.