“Childhood should be a journey, not a race.” That is one of my favorite quotes and my mantra as a mother. I want my children to enjoy the process of childhood.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was from my husband who admonished me to “enjoy the process.” So often we are so focused on the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey.
The definition of journey is an act of traveling from one place to another. The definition of process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.
Both of these words refer to a destination, but insinuate that there is no way to just magically arrive at the destination. It requires time and action to achieve whatever the desired end result is.
So, how do you make sure your children’s childhood is a journey and not a race? How do you keep them from being sucked into the super busy vacuum of this world? What can you do to protect and extend their innocence? How can you nurture their curiosity and wonder?
1. Slow Down
We know that we must model whatever behavior we want our children to do. If we want our children’s life to be a journey and not a race, we need to stay out of the race.
How do we stay out of the race or the fast paced life? By slowing down.
OK…how do we slow down? One way is to cut out unnecessary tasks or activities. Write down everything you did today. Is there at least one or two tasks you can cut out? Things that aren’t absolutely vital to you and your family’s survival?
Another way is to learn to say no. You don’t have to agree to volunteer for every school function or meet your friends every week. Slow down by reducing the amount of unnecessary obligations you have.
A third way to slow down is to put down your phone or broom and go play with your kids when they ask you to. More than likely, whatever you are doing can wait a little longer.
If you can cut some busyness out of your own life, it will free you up to spend more time with your children. It will also show your children that life doesn’t have to be filled every minute in order to be fulfilling. It’s OK to take it slow!
2. Enjoy the Ride
“Are we there yet?” Raise your hand if you have ever heard those words from your kids?
My son asks that infamous question even on the shortest journeys. I don’t really blame him. I’d want to be out of a car seat, too if I had to ride in one.
What I have found that will take his mind off the fact that we are still riding in the car is to play a travel game, sing songs or turn on some music.
The same solutions can be used in your child’s journey through childhood. Play games, sing songs, listen to music, go on adventures…. Not only are these activities fun, but they help you and your children enjoy the ride.
3. Be aware of your surroundings
As a child, I always paid attention to landmarks and the directions to our destination. I had a need to know where I was at all times.
It always amazed me how many people I’d encounter who would arrive somewhere and have no idea where they were or how they got there. They just rode along and paid no attention to what was around them.
Part of enjoying the ride is to pay attention to your surroundings. It will serve you well in life if you can look back after reaching your destination and understand exactly the path you took to get there.
One of the games we play in the car is to say what scenery we see. Sometimes I ask my son to let me know when he sees a windmill or keep track of how many wheat fields we drive by.
This fun game helps the kids stay focused on the journey, be aware of the changing landscape around them and helps them enjoy the ride.
My inspiration for this game came from this song on Cocomelon. (If I haven’t already told you, Cocomelon is one of our kids’ favorite YouTube pastimes).
There is much for children to learn about the world around them as they journey. If they understand that the world they are traveling through as a child is constantly changing, they will be better able to adapt to it.
They will also have an easier transition into adulthood because they will understand exactly how they got to that point in their lives.
4. Spend Time in the Moment
In order to enjoy the ride, you have to spend time in the moment you are in. Constantly yearning to be at your destination takes away your current joy.
I am a big proponent of planning ahead, but often it robs us of the ability to be in the moment we are in. There are only so many moments in each day and we need to live them to the fullest.
Spend as many moments with your children as you can because they are only little for a short while. Your opportunity to play and bond with your children is fleeting.
So, unplug and do something memorable with your kids while you can. The memories you make now will be precious to both you and your children in the future.
A Journey of Love
I have traveled a lot in my life and every trip I have been on takes a while. Even when I used the fastest mode of transportation, there was still a time of waiting. I had to take the journey in order to arrive at the destination.
There is no way to arrive at adulthood without traveling through childhood. Whether a child’s trip is a journey or a race depends mainly on the caregivers in their life.
Slow down, enjoy the ride, be aware of your surroundings and spend time in the moment. If you do these things, then your children will have a journey (not a race) through childhood.
And that is really all we as mothers can hope for, right? That our children will have a journey of love. A childhood filled with wonder, adventure, discoveries and memories of loved ones who played with them.