Before the school year ended, I talked to a mom who was on her way to pick her son up from t-ball and then drop her daughter off at swim team, in between getting supplies for their after-school art enrichment class and finding glitter for crazy hair day at school.
Immediately the voice of comparison amplified in my ear, “Why isn’t W playing soccer? Why isn’t H learning Mandarin? I really need to get these kids in some activities before they get behind. I heard so-and-so is already into coding…”
Then, I reminded myself that my kids are two and three. They aren’t doing anything, and IT’S. OK.
Part of parenthood is drowning out the multitude of voices telling you what your kids should and shouldn’t be doing…even when those voices are your own. Usually, it’s the insecure version of myself telling me the kids will be behind or un-socialized if I don’t get them over-programmed right away. And at the end of the day, isn’t that just me worrying how their performance will reflect on me as a parent? Sometimes it’s actual friends and family gently encouraging me to enroll them in something because, “they’re really ready.”
I don’t disagree that my kids would enjoy and benefit from any number of activities, but right now I am soaking in every unplanned minute of our days. When in life does anyone get the chance to wake up (with only a human alarm clock) and think, “What should we do today?” For most of us, the answer is never. We’re either working or playing chauffeur, trying to keep up with an impossible, self-inflicted schedule.
As a mostly stay-at-home-mom-for-now, I am in this unbelievably amazing season of life where I get to hang out with my kids every day and do nothing. This would make some people crazy (me on many days), but it truly is the greatest privilege. I took a step away from my career when my second was born and have intentions to work again, so I know this season of life is fleeting. Soon enough, play dates, impromptu trips to the zoo, and extended vacations will be replaced by school days, homework, and work/life balance. Those are great things and a transition I will embrace, but not before I suck every ounce of enjoyment from the freedom of having littles whose morning is made by simply playing on the floor with legos and then driving through the car wash. It’s a bonus if we bike over to the park or hit the library before lunch and naps.
To be clear, we wouldn’t be doing nothing if I thought nothing were nothing. I suspect that in the doing nothing, we’re doing everything. Early education is, for my taste, becoming overly academic as we train children at an early age to sit at a desk and follow instructions. They’ll have an entire lifetime for this in my view. For now, I want their minds to be unrestricted and free to expand and develop. To explore and discover and learn about the world and the ways things work and could work. Is there anything better than listening to a child’s inner monologue as they engage in imaginative play?
As it stands, I already feel time slipping through the hourglass as my oldest starts preschool this fall. I know our days of freedom and un-scheduled bliss/insanity are coming to an end. But for now, we’re doing nothing. And, it’s o-k. If your kids are doing nothing, that’s o-k too.