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This week is “The Week Of The Young Child,” which is something I hadn’t heard about until this year, but I like it! It is sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and was started back in 1971, as a way to recognize kids’ early years (age 0-8) lay the foundation for their success in school and later life. The daycare my son goes to is celebrating this week, and I thought it would be fitting for me to write something in honor of this special week as well.
I could write about how to start solids with young kids, or discuss formula or breastfeeding, or talk about picky eating, or any number of things specific to nutrition and eating as it pertains to young children, but I don’t actually want to do that today.
It really is a precious and magical time. We are only young for a few short years, before life starts to get more complicated and we start to take on various responsibilities.
As parents, we have tons of expectations bearing down on us, both from ourselves and from the outside world. We want so badly to raise our children to be good people. We want to do the best we can for them, in every way we possibly can. I’m sure it’s always been this way, but with the dawn of the internet, social media, and things like Pinterest, I feel like being a parent is harder now than in earlier times.
Not only do you have your own mom, mother-in-law, and close friends to impart wisdom and opinions, but you now have the entire freaking world telling you what you “should” be doing and what the “right way” to parent is.
Sometimes I honestly think we’d do well to just ignore most of it.
We get so caught up in what other moms are doing on Pinterest – how they’re organizing their homes, or color-coordinating their kids’ outfits to the days of the week. We see all these blog posts and internet articles about the 10 things you “should never do” with your kids, and then another series of posts saying how wonderful those same 10 things are and how they’re a “must do” in your family.
And so, I implore you…. Join me in tuning all that crap out.
But really, when it all comes down it, we are all just moms trying our best to do what we can to make childhood wonderful for our kids. Our kids are only young once, and we want them to enjoy it. Yes, there are things they will learn in their formative years. They’ll learn to speak, to eat, to walk, to use the potty, and to (hopefully) share and play nicely with others. We can help to guide and encourage them as they’re learning all these wonderful things.
But we don’t need to push it.
We can let them be kids and enjoy those few years of not having responsibilities. We can let them run amok and get dirty. We can let them learn things in their own time without forcing it on them with flashcards and educational DVDs.
We can sit back and watch the magic of those “young child” years unfold before our eyes. Because in a split second, we’ll blink and they’ll be driving down the street with their new driver’s license. (Holy Hell, I’m not ready for that!)
I was watching my son play this morning, and I couldn’t help but just admire him. I watch him interact with the world around him and take in the sights and sounds he experiences, and I just fall even more in love with his innocence every single time. He is learning so much, even in the moments that don’t look like anything.
Young children can amaze us, just by existing. While we’re busy putting so much pressure on ourselves to “get it right”, they’re already DOING things right. Yes, their early years are important, and we don’t want to screw them up for life. But unless you’re abusing or neglecting your children, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say they’re all going to be just fine. We can relax a bit. It’s all okay.
Keep them safe, love the hell out of them, and then just go along for the ride.
In this Week of the Young Child, perhaps we should think not about what we can teach our young children, but what THEY can teach us.
Patience. Trust. Unconditional love. Acceptance. Persistence. Determination. Wonder. Imagination. Joy.
We can learn so much from these sweet little beings. And it gets easier to do so when we tune out the barrage of ideas and suggestions from social media’s highlight and comparison reel of what everyone else is doing.
It’s all okay, mama. You’ve got this. Your kid has got this. You’re both going to be just fine, no matter what anyone else says.
We can learn to tune out the noise and just be here with them, today, in this moment, taking in all their wonder and joy. We can stop comparing ourselves to other moms, or trying to keep up with what “everyone on Facebook” is doing these days.
We can learn to trust ourselves, and them. We can learn to just breathe and let the magic unfold.
Give your little nuggets of amazingness some extra hugs and snuggles this week. Let them know how much they inspire and captivate you, and how much you learn from them every single day. They really are amazing. 🙂