As parents, we need to stop stressing over these 5 things kids don’t need, and focus on what they really do need from us.
I accidently and unintentionally did an experiment recently with my children.
Subject one: My oldest son. He had the typical upbringing of any first child. We had a red-carpet worthy first birthday party (and equally fancy parties in subsequent years).
He wore new, themed outfits when we went on our well planned out and scheduled excursions to the museum, the zoo, and the amusement park. (Literally he wore a safari outfit to the zoo when he was 8 months old).
And if he looked bored for one second, I considered myself a failure of a mom.
Then there is subject two: my third child. His early birthday parties were cake with immediate family (if we had time).
“Activities” usually consisted of playing at the baseball field while his brother or sister had practice – wearing hand-me downs and shoes (only if he decided to keep them on his feet).
The simple fact that test subject one and test subject two are equally as happy, and that test subject two is, in fact, more resilient, calm, and incredibly easy-going than test subject one made me consider the question:
What do kids really need?
Related: How to Hardwire Kids for Happiness
Parents, Stop Stressing Over These 5 Things
Listen, if you can do it all, that’s great.
But for those of us who are struggling with busy schedules, mom guilt, and a feeling of overwhelm, it helps to know that stressing over these things is not worth our time.
1) Expensive Themed Parties
This year, I didn’t have the money, time (and frankly the energy) to throw my 6 year old a big birthday party.
I beat myself up about this for over a week. I had no well-thought-out themes, expensive party favors, or extraordinary events.
For his party, we picked up 3 friends, let them pick out something from the dollar store, get a McDonald’s Happy Meal, and then sing Happy Birthday back at our house.
I braced for rejection when I told him this idea prior to picking up his friends. He replied with “Are you kidding me? Is this for real? That sounds like the best party every!’
And he did have the best party ever.
2) Fancy Crafts and Activities
For years, I struggled with an internal battle over doing crafts.
On social media and Pinterest I see glittery craft ideas and creative homemade games.
When I tried to do crafts with my kids, I became frustrated over the mess and the lack of interest from my kids. A truly artistic-driven child will create their own art projects, they don’t need forced to make a pinecone wreath with their mom.
For us non-crafty moms, let’s agree to throw this out the window.
3) Constant Activities
Now that my children are getting older, they love sports and activities.
This wasn’t always the case. However, the old me felt that I still had to enroll my three year old in soccer if I wanted to be a good mom.
Every weekend, we would drag him, kicking and screaming onto the soccer field. My husband would bribe him to participate, and we would leave feeling absolutely defeated.
In reality, we all just wanted free time – or family time without the stress factor.
I know you may feel that your kid needs all these opportunities, but if no one is enjoying it then give it a break.
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4) Sparkling clean house
Your kids don’t need shiny floors or gourmet dinners. They need these 8 things instead.
Instead of stressing about the state of your home, remember how fast these years will go. AND that the mess will always be there.
5) Hours of one-on-one time
Research shows that short bursts of focused time can help you strengthen relationships, feel more at peace, and bring joy to your family.
- Snuggling and cuddling can releases “feel good” chemicals that decrease stress hormones in parents and improve cognition and development in children.
- Relaxing, agenda-free, can help prevent burnout.
- Having conversations with your kids, especially at bedtime, gives kids time to process their emotions and deepen your relationship.
Don’t be hard on yourself if your aren’t giving your child hours of direct attention.
Make your kid feel notably special in under 10 minutes a day with this method.
Final Thoughts on Things Kids Don’t Need
This school of thought was re-confirmed this week. My kids all had to design a “100th day of School” shirt to wear in Kindergarten.
For my first son, we spent house working on a t-shirt with 100 cut out pictures of his face on it. It was expensive, time-consuming, and, well, itchy.
For my youngest, we got a few bingo stampers and he dapped it on his shirt a hundred times and he had a blast.
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