I’m sure most parents, like me, try to plan lots of activities, trips and outings to keep your children busy and happy at the weekends and during the school holidays. We want them to have fun, to experience what life has to offer and to make lasting happy memories. That’s why we feel guilty if we have a day where we just don’t have the energy or just don’t feel like it. I think we should learn to embrace these days, for many reasons.
I think it’s important to have downtime and to show children that life isn’t always jam-packed. That we can’t always go out for day trips; that constant visits to activity centres, soft play areas, theme parks, beaches, castles, etc. are not necessary to be happy and enjoy life. We shouldn’t show them a total reliance on external influences for having fun or making memories.
Yes these things are good and they are lots of fun. However, it’s important for them to find and experience the little things, the basic things in life that can bring us joy and help to shape who we are. They also need to know that money is not endless and these things can be expensive, that not everyone they know or meet can afford to have these experiences and they are lucky that they can.
This is why I love the odd lazy day. A day where we all clamber into my bed when they get up and play tickles or just cuddle. Where we stay in our pjs til almost lunchtime. Where (if it’s not raining) they go straight into the garden to play and eat breakfast outside. Where we watch tv, curl up on the sofa, play chases round the room, play hide & seek, build dens, play dress-up, drink imaginary tea and generally just play. Children love to play, no matter whether it’s with big expensive toys or purely the tools & wonders of their own imaginations. They love it even more when we do this with them. When we abandon the housework, leave the washing and dishes, put off the computer or put down our phones. These things help them to build wonderful memories too.
A child won’t remember or notice how much that trip to Legoland cost, how much you had to pack and the days of washing that you had a result. Just like they won’t remember or notice that extra bit of laundry in the basket, the unstacked dishwasher or the pile of ironing that hasn’t yet been done. What they will remember is that mum or dad ate the pretend cakes they baked and drank their imaginary tea; mum climbed into the den and read the story by torchlight, making all of the funny faces and sounds; dad crawled round the floor making animal noises or hooting like a train! These things make memories too, happy ones; memories where mum isn’t harassed at packing the essentials and more; dad isn’t checking the roof box, tyre pressures and window cleaning fluid. (Terrible gender-stereotyped roles but you get the drift!)
Sometimes it’s fun just to snuggle on the couch, watch a film on Netflix (gone are the days of hunting for DVDs) and eat some popcorn in the middle of the morning. Sometimes it’s nice to lie under a sheet draped over the furniture as a makeshift den and pretend you’re hiding from aliens or monsters. Sometimes it’s great just to put cushions on the floor, play Chinese whispers or be tickle monsters. These things help us be kids again and there’s no one a kid likes better than a big crazy kid-parent. Rediscover your sense of fun and adventure. Be a child for the day and, most importantly, just let them be young, crazy, carefree and childish. They don’t stay that way for long.