I’ve noticed something about myself and my parenting style; I am always in a rush. I am constantly trying to catch up. And I feel like I am not taking the time to breathe, much less have any fun. So lately, I have been trying really hard to live a life with less. Less stuff, less on the calendar, and less comparing myself to other families.
I began to realize during this slowing down process (probably because I’ve had more time to think) that when I was growing up, I don’t remember my mother running around, always in a rush to get to the next thing. In fact, I don’t even think that was a thing back then. My mom had to work, and she has said more than once that she knew we would figure out how to entertain ourselves and that we could get in touch with her if we needed to.
I talked to my mom recently about this topic, as I wanted her take on how she felt the parents today were different than the parents of the ’80s and ’90s. And just as I thought, she thinks social media is the culprit. She is able to have a different perspective on the way we run our households now because so much has changed over the last 30 years since we were living under her roof.
“We have access to so many more choices and information now than we used to. Then you go and look on Facebook and see people having fun and doing all this stuff and you start to feel like you should be doing those things too instead of sitting and home enjoying a barbecue,” she told me.
And she is right. It is so easy to sit behind a screen and wonder why your life seems so boring when you are looking at everyone else’s highlights.
The competition, the overload, the busy card — it’s all trendy these days and I don’t know a parent who hasn’t gotten caught up in it. That, coupled with how intense kids’ homework and sporting events are, doesn’t exactly leave us time to make any spur-of-the-moment plans — and isn’t that supposed to be the spice of life?
My mother says she laughs because these days, instead of calling someone and saying, “Let’s go to the park and get an ice cream,” we are scheduling a 15-minute ice cream break with them two weeks from this Sunday because that’s all we have time for.
Mothers of the ’80s and ’90s never felt like they were in competition with each other — they just did their thing, whether they worked or stayed home, and told their kids to busy themselves. They never worried if we had enough to do or we were bored. And I never remember my mom taking care of my boredom, either. I always knew it was my job.
So perhaps my busy card lies within myself and all the things I feel I need to do in order to give my kids their best life. But what about our best life?
I am starting to see the light and realize I can be a good mom and not be overly involved my kids’ lives. I don’t need to hover, I don’t need to sign them up for every sport or camp just because their friends are doing it.
Growing up, I had time to think, to sit, to daydream, and be spontaneous with or without my friends. Those are the memories that have held a place in my soul. That is what I have kept from my childhood, and I want my kids to have a taste of it, too.
Slowing down isn’t easy, especially when we feel we’ve been on a hamster wheel for so long and have developed a fear of missing out. I know I am totally guilty of this. And while we should always parent in a way that feels right for us, I have to say, slowing down and getting rid of the voice in my head the tells me I need to be doing more just because someone else is, feels really freeing — and I’m not going back.