Doing children's things
Joy or duty?
Being a parent means that from now on you do things from morning to night that you would never do without children.
That's the statement with which I started becoming a parent - and which I largely lived by in the first few years.
I'm not good at making children's things. This is mostly because I just don't like doing these things - I don't find any natural joy in them!
I don't like doing handicrafts, baking, cooking or game nights together, I don't like the children's pool in the swimming pool, the playground and any school events, I would never go to play land on my own initiative, I dread children's birthdays and I'm much more minimalist and frugal as my children. I don't want to be a member of a club or play jumping games, I don't like dressing up or role playing with cuddly toys. I don't like reading before and singing a song before going to bed when I've had to keep my eyes open with matches for two hours is extremely difficult for me...
Over the past few years I have discussed this with many parents and the reactions are surprisingly similar:
For many parents, everyday life with children is simply too much.
They look so tired and worn out, but in community we all wear our best smiles. We've gotten used to not having much fun spending time with our children - and we seem to resign ourselves to our fate. But this makes it difficult for ourselves and our children: the whole family senses when one part of the family is not doing well; even if he knows how to cover it up.
I want you to be well!
A battle rages within us: We have learned what our children supposedly need to be happy and no matter what we ourselves love or don't love, we do it for the sake of our children. We want to do everything we can to ensure that our children can look back on a wonderful time later.
But that's not all: It's not just the sense of responsibility towards our children that keeps us running on this hamster wheel, but also the social pressure: We know that our children find out in school and kindergarten what the other parents at home are dealing with do to their family. What buffet was there at Christmas? How big were the gifts? How pompous is the child's birthday party? How was your summer vacation? How tasty is the food? How homely and comfortable does the apartment or house look?
We fall into a dangerous trap: comparing ourselves to others. I'm wondering how you feel about this... for me it's now less about my personal comparison with others and more about the fear that my child might think that others are better off than him... and thus get the feeling that that he is missing something. This fear drove and still drives me to this day - I want my children to feel like they belong, that they feel: I'm just as well off as everyone else, I have access to everything that my best friends have – I’m not left out.
Parents often feel immense pressure to always offer the best of the best
and interestingly, this “best” looks similar for everyone. We adopted what we learned – children want to do crafts. Children want to bake. Children need a tent in their room, a hammock in the attic, a mom who cooks and bakes, huge children's birthday parties and big presents. They need reading in the evening and the bedtime song and Christmas has to be as cozy as possible.
Well, at some point I began to question these seemingly natural assumptions.
Who exactly defines what is suitable for children?
Are all children the same?
Is it really the case that I have to constantly go to the flea market or the consumer center so as not to miss out on the latest gaming trends? Do I have to bake huge amounts of cookies, does my birthday cake have to be a masterpiece, does it have to be the playground every day? How narrow is my world when I move within these boundaries?
Now I love not only my children, but also myself. This is the point of rethinking. What we do together as a family should bring joy to everyone, at least at the grassroots level. Because only then will the shared experience be a relaxing time. The enjoyment doesn't really come from WHAT is done, but HOW we do it.
You and me
Slowly, little by little, one small knot after another bursts:
Our evening ritual still consists of singing and reading - but alternately, not both at once and at an earlier time when I feel free to do so - then they can play for a few minutes and I can retreat a bit to rest .
We go to the library because I like it - and lo and behold, they cheer. We just stay at home and I devote myself to my projects - my children play with the neighborhood children.
We meet up with my friends who don't have children in the middle of the city and the children get an ice cream - they think it's great.
At one point I even bought a ready-made cake for my child's birthday party - admittedly, I did so with shaking knees - but hey, the kids spent the afternoon on the trampoline and hardly thought about food.
I learned that my needs matter. More than that, they are inevitable if we want to be happy together. I can allow myself to say “I won’t do that. Being a mother or a woman or whatever social cliché wants to push me into it, no one can force me and I can help shape my children's world in a way that suits me, even if it sometimes looks different in comparison.
And yes, I regularly force myself to do things for my children that I don't like myself - almost every day. This is part of unconditional love and I would do it again at any time. Because in the end only one thing matters: I never want to get rid of the people I love the most, no matter what it costs.
One thing is now clear: children's things are everything that brings us joy together. All the children in the room. Those who stand before me and also my own inner child.
If you would like to find out more about the topics of family, pregnancy, mindfulness, nutrition or sustainability, take a look here .
AUTHOR: SARAH ACKER
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