It’s been a little quiet on the blog this summer – please forgive me for that, I’ve been living in the moment and keeping up with life. We talk so much about the ages and stages of our kids lives – my two youngest are in the thick of sports and friends and school and all the things. So, I am truly active parenting!
Earlier this year, I reflected on a moment when I realized that I really don’t have littles anymore; I have all Big Kids. We have moved way beyond Baby Time, the toddler years, had all the Adventures in Parenting that come with those first few broken bones or stitches. I’ve survived Teenagerness with my oldest, and she will be moving into her second decade (how is that possible?!?) soon.
Right now, I am in the middle of the fun years. The end of elementary school and all of middle school, when friends and sports are the center of their universe, and all they want to do is everything. I have several mom friends who are making some changes in their work lives right now, in order to make the most of these middle years. The active parenting years. Knowing that our lives revolve around playing mom’s taxi to all the practices, games, club meetings, tournaments, camps and more.
I made the change to run my own schedule and live by my own work rules, years ago. Finding the Balance that works for you and your family is always a juggling act – and what might be the right answer for you when your kids are little is completely different when they get bigger. Those toddler years are so busy, constantly chasing the kids around the house and making sure they don’t hurt themselves or get into things. We think that we’ve moved beyond that stage, and then the sassy pre-teen years come along. More boundary building, more challenges in the form of social media and phones and keeping the world at arm’s length so that we can make sure our kids get to stay kids, just a little longer.
Active parenting is a life-long challenge. Each of those ages and stages means the “active-ness” looks a little bit different. We are now chasing our kids all over creation, getting them to games and tournaments hours away, possibly sending them to camps and on adventures with friends and family far away from us. Our kids are starting to branch out, find new passions, and explore the world, but we still hold the strings and want to protect them as much as we can. How do we let them take on the adventures, and still keep them safe?
Do you feel like you have to say “NO” all the time? Check out our post about Being the Strong Mom
Lately, I get a lot of “you’re the worst” comments…mostly when I keep setting those boundaries for the big kids in my house. Our younger two are 8 and 11. They are not teenagers yet. But they do have friends who are allowed to do things or have things (like phones) that our kids do not. The middle’s current obsession is with getting an electric scooter, like several of his friends. He does have a pretty souped-up off-road hoverboard that he got for Christmas last year…and has hardly used at all. So, we are currently (and constantly, it seems) pointing out to him that he has a pretty cool thing, and doesn’t need another one. Also, he managed to completely wipe out a couple of months ago on the friend’s scooter, while throwing a ball from it and turning a corner, and had some pretty massive road rash (note to any mom’s who might need it: Bactine spray is still the best antiseptic out there).
All that to say, our kids constantly push our buttons, no matter how young or old they are. Our oldest still picks fights with us or between us (or with her siblings) for no apparent reason, even from far away at college. I’ve decided she likes to make sure we don’t forget her.
Active parenting (as with all parenting) is truly a marathon. These really are the fun years, and as much of a slog as it feels sometimes, I’m enjoying the fun they are having. My best advice? Find a way to enjoy all the things your kids do, and if you don’t love a certain activity, find another mom or dad or grandma or grandpa who can help them learn and get the most out of that thing. Our youngest wants to do cake decorating next year…not my best skill. So, I’m recruiting a cousin who does love to do that to help her.
Also…if you are facing the prospect of some chilly fall mornings coming up with football or soccer games, they have these great heated camp chairs now that could make life a little better in the moment. Just a little suggestion… 😊
Whatever your kids’ passions or favorite sports or activities might be, have fun watching them figure things out. Have a big blow-out end of summer party and invite the neighborhood, and let the kids run around and play. After almost 20 years of parenting under my belt, I’ve decided that the best parties we’ve thrown are the ones that are spur-of-the-moment and with no plan at all. Kids make their own fun and enjoy being with their friends without the structure of school (especially this first big holiday weekend after school has started).
Sometimes, active parenting is also about finding something that makes your kids happy while also bringing your parent friends together to catch up. I know we’ve been racing around all summer long. I’m sure all of you have been too. Enjoy the long weekend, and have fun out there!