I remember my childhood like it was yesterday. These memories are close to my heart and helped shape me into the parent I am today.
I grew up in a two-parent home with two sisters and three brothers. The crazy part is my parents were divorced but still decided to live together to raise us. Of course, it wasn’t perfect with them living together but our good days definitely outweighed our bad.
We didn’t have everything we needed and not too much of what we wanted, but we were definitely given the thing we needed most, and that was time. My parents would always take us to the park, movies, play sports with us in the yard, and even have sleepovers with other families. Those were some of the best times of my life.
I can remember my older brother Ronnie building obstacle courses (similar to the one on Gladiator), as well as our first clubhouse in the woods. Outside was one of our favorite places because that is where our imaginations would run free.
We would climb on top of my grandma’s house when she wasn’t home and slide down the antenna pole like we were firefighters. We would put cans or little Hug juice bottles between the tire and the frame on our bikes just so they could make loud noises like we were on a motorcycle. There was so much we would do outdoors, from picking blackberries and sour weed, to walking to the neighborhood store to get snacks.
Back then we were just kids and doing exactly what kids were supposed to do.
Today, children don’t seem to enjoy the outdoors as much. I haven’t heard a child say anything about an imaginary friend in years. And it’s probably because they always have so many ways to talk to their real friends. Electronics have taken over our children in many ways.
I try as much as possible to give my children the experiences I had as a child. From packing or buying lunch, to having a picnic at the park, to just going outside and enjoying being a kid.
There was one time at my mother-in-law’s house I decided that I would make mud pies with my girls. We had so much fun. They were so interested in how my childhood was and what all we would do to have fun.
Since then I’ve been giving them those same experiences I had.
They’ve watched the very same movies I watched as a child with my parents and siblings. I’ve made some of the same traditions with them that my mom made with us. I even buy board games to play with them so we can have that quality time.
I especially do these things if I feel like they’ve had too much screen time, or when I feel like I’m missing out on something that’s going on in their lives. The latter may not happen much because they are only 13, 11 and nine. But I just want to be able to have that time with them that was given to me, despite the fact that this generation is very much about technology.
I always tell other parents how important it is to spend time with your kids even if they don’t want to. Sometimes it’s best to tell our children to put down the electronics and spend some time talking or hanging out together.
What’s most important to a child is not what you buy them, but the amount of time you spend with them.