I know that as parents it is our responsibility to teach our children and keep them safe. But often times, when I’m paying attention my kids are teaching me at the same time. After a parent/teacher conference last week for one of our kids, I was feeling especially impressed and inspired by their effort and development as an individual. I was thinking about it all day and feel compelled to share a few lessons that I have learned from them. There are MANY more things I have learned from them, but let’s just start with these…
1. It’s okay to color outside the lines or to use an unexpected color in a picture. Trees look awesome pink after all! I appreciate the creativity and need to remember myself sometimes that things don’t have to be perfect. As long as I like what I am creating and having fun working on a project, that’s all that really matters. Different is good. Uniqueness makes things stand out in a good way and if love is put into it then only love can be portrayed. In life, I encourage the kids (and myself) to color outside the lines and try new things. Just because we are told or made to feel we should look a certain way or do what everyone else does, we don’t have to. We are free to be whoever we want to be.
2. The “Buddy System” works. When I watch my daughter interact with her friends, they do EVERYTHING together and usually they’re even holding hands. Sometimes it’s nice to have a friend just to be there with you – even for the simple, every day things. I am so grateful for my friends and our buddy system. With friends, you feel like you can conquer the world! I aim to be that friend as well, always there to hold out my hand and offer support.
3. Sometimes all you need is a good cry. In the moment of frustration or not getting what they want, kids often cry. More so when they’re younger but it still happens on rare occasion. (Especially for the females in the house.) Often it would seem silly to me and I used to find myself saying things like “Oh you don’t need to cry about it” or “crying isn’t going to help.” Wow, was I wrong. After a long stressful week of no downtime or after a particularly tough day, sometimes all I need is a good cry. And it’s okay.
4. Don’t cry over spilled milk. No seriously. We all make mistakes and we just need to pick it up and move on. I used to get upset when the kids would break a dish or spill the rice milk on the floor. A few years ago one of them spilled something in the kitchen and immediately looked so ashamed and guilty…and honestly worried at how I was about to react. It hit me like a sledge hammer and immediately I was the one who felt the shame. My reaction is what taught them how they should feel after the spill. This time I tried something different. I immediately said with a smile on my face, “It’s okay. Don’t be upset that you made that mess. Here’s a towel, just get it cleaned up.” You would have thought my head was spinning around in circles judging by their faces. They definitely thought I was possessed to react so calmly and paused as if thinking, “Wait for it, she’s about to explode.” I never did, they let out their breath and their whole demeanor relaxed. Yes, sometimes they break something important or make a mess when we are in a hurry but the most important thing I try to remember is that they definitely didn’t WANT to have that happen. They are hard enough on themselves and don’t need me to make them feel bad. They need me to remind them to stay calm, shake it off and allow themselves to fix it. So the same goes with me and life in general. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. I just need to own it, shake it off and pick up the pieces.
5. The dishes can wait. I know the dishes can’t wait FOREVER, but they definitely CAN wait. I would much rather see my son show me his new soccer move or my daughter ride her bike with no hands, then miss it because I insisted the dishes be done from dinner. Sometimes it’s good to leave the housework where it is, give your kids some attention and then get back to it later. Not going to lie…SOMETIMES…I forget to go back to the dishes and then it catches up with me. That’s just where my priorities are though. Hey, I already told you I wasn’t a very good housekeeper. Good thing “Authentically Steff” is a judgment free zone.
6. Play is important. Yes, even for adults. A lot of people think the play is only for children, and for adults play is a waste of time. Not true. Playing is important for our mental well being. Play brings happiness to our lives and can relieve us from stress. I’ve learned from my kids that play is fun and there are many, many ways to play. I like to have my own hobbies and interests, but it is also great to play with my kids. I try to take advantage of every opportunity to play a board game, dance in kitchen, jump on the trampoline, or ride a bike with the kids. In the car, we often talk in our best silly accent. The more dramatic imagination with it, the better. My kids also remind me it is okay (AND FUN) to play or be silly in front of others. The worst thing to happen is for people to think we are weird (I like weird) and the best would be that we inspire them to play as well.
Thank you to my kids. Not just mine, but all children for that matter. I love to see the world through your eyes when I can and I look forward to the many lessons you will teach me in the future.