Seven Personal Goals for Making the Most of the Childhood Years
Lamenting today about the brevity of the childhood years. My youngest is graduating from preschool and going to Kindergarten next year. I’m NOT ready! Time is racing by so fast and I can hardly believe that I’ll be dropping BOTH my kids off at school next year. No more daytime mom-daughter dates and fun little lunches. (OK must stop or more tears will flow).I’ve been thinking a lot about how to make the most of this precious childhood time with them. Its easy to let routines take over or slip into distractions like phones, movies and TV. Its also difficult when you’re a tired parent to have that quality time with your kids. I’ve come up with seven goals for how I want to make these years not only fun, but also more meaningful and intentional.
GOAL 1: STAY PRESENT
Why is staying in the moment so difficult? After many years of having anxiety and worrying about the future, I’m finally learning more about how to get out of my head and stay focused on what’s happening in the present. The present is where life happens. Now, when my daughter asks me to play puppies (for the 10000th time), I am trying to nod, smile and be the best pet puppy a 4 year old could ask for. Instead of thinking about work, or what I’m going to make for dinner, I’m trying hard to look at her enjoyment and be all in. Every giggle and smile is worth it!
GOAL 2: ENCOURAGE A LIFE OF SERVICE
Our faith has two core tenants: Love God, and love people. I want my children to know that while we are so fortunate to have so much, there are so many who are in need that we can help. Its our responsibility to love them, to serve them and its our privilege to be able to give! Once a month for the past few years my kids and I go to a shelter and food bank where we serve dinner. Its awesome to experience serving others with my kids. We always get so much more out of giving than receiving. Its something that can not be taught, only experienced. My goal is to not only continue to serve at the shelter but to do more service opportunities with my children. There are so many ways that we can help whether its building houses, fundraising, collecting food, volunteering at an animal shelter, or simply praying for friends, family and strangers who have needs.
GOAL 3: PRIORITIZE EXPERIENCE AND TRAVEL OVER THINGS
This goal is not about expensive, time-intensive travel and over the top experiences (though that is fun!) During these childhood years, my goal is to travel more with my kids whether it’s a one night camping trip, a staycation in San Diego, or international travel. I think traveling with my kids is the best way to experience life, nature, culture and foods. I want to give my kids experiences over material things. One thing we did this year was buy Disneyland Annual Passes for the kids (and us!) as Christmas and birthday presents. Every time we get in the car to go, my husband says, “Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday!” It’s the gift that keeps on giving. We love our Disney days. Its so much fun having full days of fun with our kids, no computers, no iPad or TV, just quality time and memories.
GOAL 4: DON’T OVERSCHEDULE
It’s easy to get caught up in overscheduling the kids. After all, I want them to have the opportunity to play sports, dance, play music, have play time with friends etc. But with overscheduling they get tired and I’m exhausted by hauling them everywhere. Often, I find at the end of the day I’ve hardly had a chance to talk to them. I want them to have activities, but my goal is to find a solid balance. Also, I’m trying to tune in better to what my kids enjoy, and not just select activities for them that I think are best.
GOAL 4: TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING!
Volunteering in my son’s first grade class, I found out quickly that kids are talking about a lot of really mature stuff at just seven years old! The movies and content they watch has forced conversations that I did not expect to have at this stage. Rather than putting my head in the sand, my goal is to talk about everything! My seven year old and I have a nightly routine where I climb up in his bunkbed and we snuggle and talk about the day. Whenever he gets embarrassed about asking a question, my husband and I encourage him that its not only ok to ask, but that we want to know his questions and feelings. I know that the teenage years will be tough, but I hope that by encouraging communication now we set up a good foundation for the future.
GOAL 5: UNPLUG
Of all of my goals, this is the hardest. I have a blog, I’m on social media, and I have a demanding job where I need to be online, checking email and responding to things in a timely manner. That means I’m on my phone a lot. I love it and I hate it! I want to be present, but my eyes and thoughts are constantly glued to the screen. Here are some ways that I try and unplug and my goal is to get better at this!
-Put the phone down and away during family time, dinner etc.
-Stop buying books on my iPad – I love the immediate access to books on my iPad, but my kids don’t know that I’m reading a book. I am reverting back to buying real, paper books (remember those!) and I love that my kids see me read a book, not just looking at a device.
-Resist the urge to check! – Its proven that checking our phones is actually a form of addiction. I’m resisting the urge to constantly check my phone and only check when its absolutely necessary.
GOAL 7: ENCOURAGE A HEALTHY ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
Our children learn less from our words and more from our actions. This is a tough one! My goal is to show my kids that its important to be strong, to take care of our bodies, to eat right, to exercise. The best way to do this is to make family exercise a priority. My goal this year is to incorporate more fun activities like biking, hiking, surfing, and running into our routines.
These are just seven, but there are so many more I could put down to make the most of the childhood years. What are your goals?