FOMO: Fear of Missing Out, Kid Edition


fear of missing outWhen you’re a first-time mom, everything is new to you. I was a babysitter my entire teen years, into my 20’s, but every child is different, and you really don’t understand the ins and outs of kids until they’re yours. My older daughter was my first experience in motherhood and the complex beings that are kids.

And what I learned was, some kids love doing ALL the things, ALL the time.

My older daughter had, and to some degree continues to have, FOMO (fear of missing out). She has always wanted to go to every party, every play date, every museum, everywhere, all the time. I now call her a “lover of life,” but as a baby, we called her “the mayor.” Everybody knew her, and she was thrilled to always be “in the mix.”

This couldn’t be any more opposite of myself and my introverted husband. Nights in on the couch are more enticing than anything anyone else is doing. But not for our girl. As a baby, she would have to make eye contact with everyone she saw, wave a big “princess wave,” and even press her little face against the glass of our front door to watch the people walk by. She wanted to be on the go all the time, which was all sorts of cute until she stopped napping because of her fear of missing out. This was the kid who was starting to walk at 10 months and talking (kinda) even before then. She was non-stop. We had no clue 1-year-olds were supposed to nap still!

My funniest memory of her true “FOMO” was naptime at daycare. A little after she moved up to the “toddler” room, her teachers started to mention she really wasn’t napping anymore. We had noticed it at home even earlier than that, but here at 1 1/2 or so, her teachers were trying to get 9 other toddlers to nap for two hours each afternoon, but then along came trouble.

My early talker/early walker didn’t want to nap. Or sit still. Or let her friends sleep. The teachers would watch her try all sorts of things to wake her (exhausted) friends up, from singing loudly to my favorite, removing the bows from her hair, and throwing them at the other kids to wake them up.

Every time I think of that, I imagine what she’ll be like at 16 years old, throwing rocks at her friend’s bedroom windows to sneak out of the house with her. My oldest never napped again after turning one, but now she was bothering her very sleepy friends. And so we had to talk about resting in her cot, quietly, and letting her friends sleep. Even now, at the age of 8, I’ll go into her room at 11 p.m. to do my final checks before bed, and there she is, wide-eyed, usually reading, saying she can’t sleep.

My little FOMO girl doesn’t like to miss a minute, but I sure do wish she would try to slow down for a minute. Her fear of missing out has her always on the go.

And now here we are, in a year when many people miss out on so many things, and my sweet FOMO girl has really received the short end of the stick. As far as COVID concerns go, as a family, we are very conservative in our choices. We’ve had to say no to so many things over and over again, and she’s rolled with the punches. I couldn’t be prouder of her patience and understanding.

It’s a tough time, and I’m glad each time we have to say no to something, she doesn’t fight us. That being said, just this week, we had to say no to a birthday party we didn’t feel was a good idea for our family, and our girl took it with stride again. Instead, we agreed to have a baking and movie day, just the four of us, which she happily agreed to. I said, “thanks for being so cool about this,” to which she replied, “I mean, I’m not THAT cool about it,” which made me laugh, but also made me hope that sooner rather than later, I hope we can start saying yes much more than no because our FOMO girl is ready to stop missing out.


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