Teaching kids to live more in the moment so I can too

Turok Glow Stick

Glow Stick swirling in the dark (Photo credit: nickstone333)

Sometimes my kids are completely absorbed in the wonder and magic of beautiful moments. But many other times, they lose this ability and get swept up with worries and complaints. I wonder if something I am doing may help this transition.

I often feel myself getting irritated and not enjoying family outings, and I have been trying to pinpoint why exactly. Of course every day is different, but I have noticed one trigger is when the kids get the *whiny-greedies*.

We went to an outdoor festival last night, and while I was happy to absorb the atmosphere, enjoy the sights, sounds, smells – the kids were immediately asking for snacks, how much longer they had to walk, complaining of sore/tired feet, whining about the music being too loud at the outdoor concert, and poking/pestering the siblings. That can at times be enough to sour my enjoyment or memories of the day. Especially when it gets me and hubby on edge and snapping/scolding.

I’d like to change the pattern of behavior, but I wonder if I am just expecting too much. But then I wonder if I have somehow spoiled them, or encouraged this less than desirable behavior. (Am I a bad mom? seems to be a daily question I must thwart and stuff away)

I have been personally practicing living in the moment, and enjoying life immensely- lately. But I can not figure out how to use this new skill effectively while parenting. First of all, I have to think ahead, because forgetting diapers or sunscreen can really ruin your day. But then once we get somewhere, I have to constantly be on guard for the kids to not climb the rocks/fence/light poles or kick/hit/poke/punch/pinch each other, and especially make sure they don’t blindly run in to the street or wander off from us. I try to hold their hands, but then I have to hold their snacks and drinks and coats, and we try to just keep them very close. The whole thing causes such anxiety just to keep them safe in a crowd, that I no longer live in the moment, always looking ahead to keep them out of danger and be less whiny. Last night I wanted to hear a band, but once we saw how far we’d have to walk to that bandstand with already whining kids, we decided it was not worth it to push them to fatigue and have to carry them back to the car. My kids are too big for a stroller, but too small to just walk and walk without complaint. I have learned if you make them walk anyway, you not only suffer the complaints, but then they fall and scrape a knee and you miss the concert anyway tending to the wounds.

And then I laugh, because I raised kids that not one of them would try the fried cauliflower, but they all gobbled up a fried oreo  with gusto! (yes I’m a bit ashamed I ordered such a devastatingly heart clogging/waist increasing creation, but had to try it once in my life)

So we had a nice day, but I wonder if I get too upset by kids acting like kids, and feel guilty for being impatient for them to grow up already. I try to plan fun family activities, but often can’t enjoy them myself. Is this just the price of being Mom? Or can I learn to manage these feelings too?

After all the complaints, we sat down, had full tummies, and when it got dark and I passed out the glow sticks, the magic happened. I saw each one twirl and spin and write imaginary letters in the air as we waited for fireworks – I saw each kid living in a magical happy moment and was able to let myself absorb and focus on it.  I felt all the tension melt away and just soaked up the giggles and grins. I’m pretty sure they won’t remember the whiny/fussy moments, so why should I?

And something to think about – even with all the terrible parts of my childhood, I do have some of these magic glow sticks/fireworks moments to recall, as long as I take them out of context, I can pull out some happy moments for myself to hold on to. I wonder how my attitude might change if I work on recalling more of my own happy childhood moments instead of always processing the abusive ones?

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6 thoughts on “Teaching kids to live more in the moment so I can too

  1. It’s like it ended up being a good time. Bless you for your parenting efforts. So many parents pretend such an activity is a family event but then expect the children to be little adults. You want a new future with your children, one different from your own, and you’re doing it. Looking back isn’t about staring back, but a glance to see how far you’ve come, a chance to see what to keep and what to let go. I don’t have children, so though I feel for your dilemma I had to admit I don’t actually “get it.” Having said that, I think you’ll work it out, especially as you’re willing to ask others how they handle the same situations and you’re able to decide what might work for you and what won’t. I hope you have more and more family events filled with happy memories, even if there’s a bit of whining and neediness involved. 🙂

    • Even though you don’t have kids, you do seem to understand what many parents do not – that kids are not little adults and have very different needs. It can be quite demanding and frustrating to try to meet all needs at these family events with so many different ages, so yes, I try to learn from my own, and from other moms what works best.

  2. Raised six kids. Learned a few things on the way.
    1. Review expectations before the event.
    2. Have short practice outings such as a restaurant for lunch to practice how to order and what is expected. Or play restaurant at home with little menus and ordering, this takes more work but more contained.
    3. Policy: you bring it, you carry it. Prevents ‘extra’ toys being dragged along.
    4. Show your own excitement about what you are doing.
    5. When possible, discuss in advance what each person wants to do. Learning to take turns at getting what you want at an event is as important as sharing toys.
    6. Accept that the unexpected will occur. Let the variety of things that kids come up with be part of the activity instead of fighting it. For example, tired feet…sit down and watch the people pass by for awhile. This then becomes part of the adventure.
    Treasure the moments because like you said there are the magical glow stick moments that are remember long after the tired feet are forgotten.
    I think you are doing great. Yes, I am a much different mother than my mother was. Change is possible since your desire is there you will find a way. 🙂

    • Thank you so much for this helpful info! I think I do many of these things, but have gotten lazy on number 1. I used to prep my oldest very well, but now it seems so difficult to just get out of the house that I forget about that step. Number 4 is a problem for me, but I am working on it. I get very anxious in the busy festival scene, just so much going on for a sensitive person like me. I enjoy it, but I bet the anxiety shows on my face and in my voice and helps get kids wound up. My kids are very bright and will attack when they smell fear, and try to divide and conquer mom and dad. And that is exactly what we did with those tired feet, we just sat down. I was momentarily annoyed that I didn’t get to do what I wanted, but I know the time for that will come, and now is my time to enjoy my little ones, and the world through their eyes.

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