[Today I bring to you a post I wrote a short while ago which has been published in the latest edition of 'Families' magazine for Surrey West. Many thanks to the editor, Sarah Hatch, for considering such a newcomer like me.)
Living a simple life, in search of truth and beauty, these are my goals. The reason why I have these goals is ...simple. I want us to enjoy our lives together. We can do this by having fun, simple fun. If I could have a chat with my 60 year old self when my children are grown and I'm pottering around the house wondering where the time went, I would ask myself what advice I could give my 33 year old self. The older 'me' would chuckle and smile and hold my hand and tell me to not take it all so seriously, worrying about how my children are doing at school? are they eating healthily? are they developing in to the well-mannered and caring people I'd like them to be? She would tell me to enjoy my time with my children while they're young and they still want to be with me. As she held my hand she would look deeply in to my eyes and she would tell me to just have some fun.
We do have fun, but sometimes I'm so caught up in my daily tasks that I forget this very simple life-affirming principle. When we dance around like crazy people, when we tickle and tumble and blow raspberries on little tummies, when we play 'can't catch me!' or hide and seek or when we play snap and cheat outrageously, this is fun, this is me connecting with my children, this is life.
In his book, 'The Hurried Child', David Elkind writes about the pressures put on children in the modern world, to perform at school, to be engaged in several extra-curricular activities. Indeed, these things are important, but so is the need for children to have fun and play. He sums it up beautifully, "A playful childhood is the most basic right of childhood." I want my children to have a fun and happy childhood, I want that 60 year old me to look back fondly and think "you did a good job, they were happy kids."
Even as I was composing this post in my head it occurred to me, did we have fun today? did I make them laugh at all today? There was dinner to cook, laundry to fold, floors to be swept, homework to be done, but was there any fun? The beauty of it is that it's so simple to have fun together, to laugh together. I once read somewhere about a woman who made it all very clear for me, she said it wasn't about having quality time together with a specific pre-planned activity involving money or toys. Rather, making the time together that we have everyday, at the dinner table, getting dressed, on the way to school, making these times fun and enjoyable. I suppose you could say enjoying the journey instead of focusing on the destination.
So, last night I finished clearing up after dinner, and remembered this. I got the girls ready for their bath and they told me some things about their day. When the bath was ready I asked them to get in to the 'aquarium' now please. They looked puzzled but went along with it. They got in to the 'aquarium' as I chucked in toy fishes, seahorses, and dolphins, and we laughed as we made up silly names for the toys and laughed as they refused to get in the water or couldn't because they were 'too shy.' We laughed, we relaxed, we just had some simple fun.