When I look back on memories of my children growing up after they are out of the house, I know I’ll remember the places we lived, the trips we took, the academic or sports accolades, and their growth milestones but I think what I’m really going to really miss is the little stuff. The little stuff in life is the good stuff, like the latte art your barista creates on the top of your favorite drink that makes you smile.
You may not always notice the little things in the moment but when you reflect on them, it’s what made it an awesome day, month or year. And as we all know that when you have kids, the days are long but the years are short so we need to remember the things that make parenting great to get us through those long, hard days.
When we reflect at the end of each year, we tend to remember it as a highlight reel. We remember going to see grandparents or other family, the sports championship games, the family trip from the summer (if you were luckily enough to be able to do that), the school graduations, the plays they were in, and other big milestones. These are also the things that most people show on social media. The big things.
What we don’t often show others are the little things. The good stuff. The little things you might forget but at the time meant so much. When kids are really young, sometimes getting through a day can be a struggle but a smile from a baby can make it all ok. I found the infant and toddler stages pretty exhausting but I loved every snuggle and laugh that I shared with my kids. I find that it is easier now that they are getting older and are in school but 2020 has put a wrench in everything (including school) and it has been taxing for all parents.
As hard as 2020 has been, I have had some positive things come out of it: I haven’t had to travel for work, we are less busy since most activities and trips were cancelled, and we have spent a lot of time together having fun and being creative. Most of it was little stuff.
I have been trying to acknowledge what all we have, be thankful for our good health (so far), and focus on the little stuff that may not seem like much but when you take time to appreciate it, it means everything.
Here is some of the little stuff with my kids that makes me happy:
- Riding bikes with them
- Reading to them at night (or reading the same series at the same time when they are older)
- Telling jokes
- Watching them play sports
- When they play together without fighting
- Volunteering in my kids’ classrooms
- Hearing them laugh
- Playing a game of cards
- Snowball fights
- Snuggling on the couch together
- Going swimming with them
- Walking the dog together and hearing what is on their mind
- Family movie nights
- Baking cookies together
- Having them teach us their favorite video games
- Watching my eight-year-old cook
- Seeing my ten-year-old make Rainbow Loom creations
- Hearing my 14 year old still say, “I love you”
I love when they start to get their own personalities and are no longer extensions of you. I find that one way my kids’ personalities really come through is when they make up jokes. My eight-year-old was telling me a joke recently about someone winning a Toyota and then realizing it was a toy yoda. I can’t even remember the actual joke but it doesn’t matter because we both present in the moment and laughed together.
Here are some other jokes she has told me recently. I don’t even know which ones she heard and which ones she made up (I suspect the first two she heard and the others she made up):
- Do you want to hear a pizza joke? I can’t tell you because it’s too cheesy.
- I have a great cat joke. Just kitten.
- Why did the pepper cross the road? To get hit by a car.
- Why did the banana run? So the people wouldn’t eat him.
- What did the pepper say to the pepperoni? Gotta go to the pep rally.
- What did the H say to the I? Hi
- What did the bed say to the blanket? I’m bedder than you.
I just love kids’ imaginations. When I have a free moment, I don’t sit around making up jokes but kids do. Like most parents, my free moment is usually when I hide in the bathroom and lock the door and I’m not making up jokes then.
When my ten-year-old was in Kindergarten, she and I created a joke book and read it to her class at school. Here are some of the jokes we made:
Luigi playing Mario Brothers with Mario
Dogonit I forgot my car keys again.
Trash can get very stinky if you don’t take it out.
Taylor to come home swiftly.
Hair today, gone tomorrow.
Toematoes taste really good on hamburgers.
Witch way should I go to get to the haunted house?
These jokes and other seemingly little things are the things I hope I remember when my kids are older. Even though in the moment I might have said, “Another knock knock joke?” and possibly rolled my eyes, I still loved them.
There are so many seemingly inconsequential things that happen every day of parenting. Reflecting on the little things, otherwise known as the good stuff, reminds me to make sure I take my head out of the sand with the craziness of everyday life with kids and work and remember to enjoy our kids at the stage that they are in because, one thing I have learned as a parent, is that that stage will end and you can never get that time back.