Parenting is hard. I know everyone says that. I’ve seen all the memes. I’ve read all the articles. I’ve posted plenty of “you got this!” graphics to let everyone know we’re all in this together. And sometimes I think I’ve got it down.
If your kids seem happy, you’re doing it right, right? But what about when your kids DON’T seem happy?
As my children get older, their opinions on what’s fun or exciting seem to be changing. A trip to the grocery store isn’t cause for celebration anymore. I get that, but it’s more than that. As a family, we try to have plenty of fun activities planned, especially now when the regularity of play dates and birthday parties haven’t gone back to normal yet. But for all the planning, someone always seems disappointed. And maybe that’s what happens as kids grow up.
My 4-year-old still seems to get excited by the little things, but my 8-year-old is over it all. So what do you do? How do you make them happy? I know some parents who would read these words and say, “Too bad! it’s not your job to entertain them 24/7.” And those parents are (mostly) right, but no one needs a salty kid ruining their weekend. So I’ve been trying to make our house a little more of a democracy.
My girls are getting older, and they have opinions! And preferences! And ideas! And I think my own parenting style needs to adjust to that. I’m a big fan of grand gestures and surprises, but I’m starting to notice as they come into their own, I’m not always right about what they want to do during their free time. And so, as opposed to just telling them what we’re doing, I’m asking for opinions and suggestions.
I’m asking what they want to eat for dinner that week, and we are going to the store to buy ingredients together. I’m asking if they’d rather go to the zoo or the museum, the park or the beach, ice cream or donuts…you get the idea.
This might seem obvious to some of you, but I guess I missed the part where my daughters are starting to grow up and can have their own opinions in this wild year. It’s an interesting new phase, but one I’m excited about. As an exhausted mom, I’m ready to hand over some decision-making reigns, especially for fun things like outings and activities. I’m looking forward to watching their preferences change and enjoy seeing them come together to make plans and agree on decisions. It’s showing me aglimpse into our future travels (fingers crossed, sometime soon!) and watching them look through a map or travel guide and see what our next adventure will be.
This is probably the first of many times I’ll need to redirect my parenting style to adjust as my girls mature, and though it makes me a little sad for the days when we would throw them in the car and surprise them by showing up at the park, I’m excited to see where their ideas will bring us. And I could definitely use a break from the decision-making.