July 6, 2014 by Julia
While packing up for the local beach this morning, I made a simple resolution: do not get stressed out.
Ya’ll know how I feel about packing up the family for big outings or trips. It’s gotten easier since I decided this year to truly organize our house down to the roots. But it still takes a lot of concentration to think of everyone’s possible future needs, depending on their current food preferences, the weather, the planned activities, etc.
Anyway, once I made the resolution to stay calm as I prepared us for the beach, I was able to let other things go.
For instance, the kids were playing together as I put together our picnic lunch. After a while, they decided to go into the front yard and “help” the ants on the sidewalk to the grass (poor ants). But the kids had left their toys and breakfast dishes scattered around our living room. My first thought was: I need to call them back in here so they can clean up their own messes. If I don’t, I will be enabling their certain growth into irresponsible, entitled kids.
But then my second thought was…it’s so much easier to just pick it up myself. Maybe I don’t need to build their characters while also doing something that is usually stressful for me. I can take the easy way out on the character-building, this time, in the pursuit of my goal, which is to be a relaxed mom taking her kids to the beach for a day of fun.
I did an especially good job packing us up today, I must say. I went slow and steady and happy, and we got to the beach by a decent time, without any yelling. We lacked for nothing, and I had no trouble finding what we needed.
And the weather was perfect and the kids were thrilled and I thought: even if we don’t get Jack home by his usual nap time, everything will be okay. Look how much he is taking in – the water, the sky, the sand. I have nothing urgent to get home to. This is my life, with my beloved family, and we’re in a precious era of childhood. And time kind of just went away for a while, as it does when you’re on the beach, and you don’t have your phone or watch because it’s too sandy and wet. It makes me a kid again, jumping the waves with my daughter, and digging holes with my son. My mind goes blank and my senses are filled.
It was a revelation to me that maybe it’s too much to try to teach five different life lessons at once. If we’re trying to get out the door, I don’t need to also crack down on the sofa-hopping (as if that ship hasn’t sailed already), the name-calling, or the unhealthy eating. One thing at a time. Focus on the main task at hand, and let them figure stuff out on their own for a bit.
Today’s life lesson was this:
It is good to be outside on this beautiful earth with each other.
Tomorrow I will make them carry their breakfast dishes to the kitchen counter.