BY SHELBY CARTER
Could spending more time at home with your kids be an overlooked parenting tip?
I tell my three boys regularly that “every day is not an adventure.” They have the biggest case of the go’s and do’s I've ever seen. They don’t necessarily want to do anything elaborate. They like to play outside, ride bikes, ride four-wheelers, go to the creek, play gun wars, and play video games. You know, all the boy things. But sometimes, this mom is tired, and their requests are more than the normal. They often want to go somewhere or do something because they are bored.
Can we be real for a minute? I want to normalize parenting like it was back in the “'19s,” as my kids refer to it. I want my kids to play and use their imagination, so I don't have to entertain them every single minute. You know, like when I was growing up!
With each passing year and with each invention or new piece of technology, kids are no longer able to be kids. They don’t get to experience things like we did, much less as our parents or grandparents did. They must grow up and grow up fast to keep up. If you don’t provide them with the newest technology, they will be behind, even in their first year of school, where Chromebooks and tablets are standard. So, what do we do? Everyone can agree that parenting is hard, but where can we turn for the best advice? Support? Judgement-free parenting? Our parents and grandparents obviously raised kids, but our kids are different. Sure, you have the same basic principles that still can be taken away from their forms of parenting in terms of how to feed them, schedules, religion, family traditions, discipline, etc. Or can we?
Everywhere we look, someone is telling us we're doing it all wrong. Every bit of it. Type the words “successful parenting tips" into any social media platform, internet browser, YouTube, or Pinterest, you name it, and tell me you don’t feel like a failure when the results come up. You will learn that feeding organically is the right option on one search. Breastfed babies are the healthiest on the next. If you formula-fed, your kids are doomed on page three. If you don’t spend 15 minutes of quality time a day with each of your kids, they will have a mental illness; that can be found on page 17. If you follow what your parents have told you is correct, and you give your baby Kayro syrup in their bottle for constipation, you have probably just created a food allergy (that article was interesting). You must take your kids to these 100 places by the time they enter school.
You get my point?
Who can live up to these expectations and still function day in and day out? With three kids, boys at that, I am winning when everyone has a bath, during which they use soap and have brushed their teeth with toothpaste two days in a row.
Do you remember when you were little? You could play outside, and no one really “watched” you. You would dig in the dirt, jump in mud puddles, play tag, jump rope, ride bikes, run around like crazy, and you were having fun. We didn’t have YouTube that taught you that every time you went to the store, you would get a prize, and then the unboxing of the prize would be just as elaborate as the purchase. When you got home with said prize, your mom and dad would then play with you and the prize for hours, along with all your other toys. When you and I would get a prize, you would open it in the car and then play with it when you got home, by yourself, because it was new, and you didn’t want anyone else to touch it. You did this while your mom was cooking supper, and your dad wasn’t home from work yet. Nothing elaborate unless your imagination led it to be that way. See the difference?
How do we get back there? Am I the only one who wants us to get back there?
This idea of childhood didn’t start plaguing me until the dreaded pandemic. We were “stuck” at home with our kids for 74,000 days, and they were bored within two hours. My children, like most, have everything they could ever want, and they were bored. I didn’t understand. But do you want the truth? I was bored too.
We live in a society where it isn’t just our kids that think we must be on the go all the time. We live in a world that tells us that we must be “doing” to succeed.
To get back to the old days, where kids could be kids, we must create calm and contentment within our homes. We must enjoy being home. I want to challenge you, as well as myself. I want you to enjoy being home. I want you to eat supper around your own table with food you prepared while having a conversation with your family. I want you to have a technology-free period built into your day. I want you to pick up a book and read it. I want your adventure to be loving on your family from your home. Let’s see how this small change can have a massive impact on our kids.
SHELBY CARTER, pictured above with her husband, Nicholas, and their three sons, Carson, Cooper and Campbell, is a lifelong resident of Owen County. She enjoys writing in her spare time. — Photo courtesy of J Kathryn Photography