When my daughter asked, after Mother’s Day and then again after Father’s Day, why there wasn’t a “Kids’ Day,” my initial response was that every day is kids’ day. But, as the end of summer neared, my husband and I started to consider her question more seriously.
Our family had recently adjusted to the arrival of our brand new baby, moved to a new home and city, and began a slew of home renovation projects. As a result, Mom and Dad were busy, distracted, and even less carefree and spontaneous than before. A Kids’ Day sounded pretty good to us all.
We decided against a set agenda. Instead, we concocted a list of possibilities during our family night. Kids always know how to have fun, and our girls (ages 5 and 3) came up with a fantastic list:
- Visit a new park
- Play Monopoly and Uno
- Eat ‘fancy’ donuts for breakfast
- Play Toy Story on the Wii
- Watch a movie
- Go on a walk
- Play hide-and-seek
- Play kick ball
- Eat at a restaurant for dinner (kids’ choice)
- Drink two kinds of pop
- Buy some chewing gum
- Have horsey and piggy back rides
- Eat mac and cheese for lunch
- Go to a special place
- Get a present
- Play Polly Pockets
- Play Mickey Mouse
- Do no work!
Ironically, we observed our new holiday on Labor Day. It was the kids’ last day of summer, and Dad had the day off. We woke up when we wanted; we did what we wanted, when we wanted–kids’ style; we did plenty of the things on our “get-to” list, left off a few, and added a few more as we pleased.
Sure, it wasn’t as nutritious a day as I would have liked, but it wasn’t just about the junk food. The memories of our quality time will last longer than any sugar buzz. After teaching the girls how to blow bubbles in their chocolate milk at the restaurant, my husband commented on how nice it was to claim certain activities for “Kids’ Day” only.
It was such a carefree day. We laughed easier, joked funnier, and cuddled closer. At first I thought the overall cheerfulness was credited to the kids setting the plans. But, despite the treats and fun events, I realized that what our kids loved most was the fully devoted time, energy, and attention from Mom and Dad.
My husband and I learned that, as it turns out, Kids’ Day isn’t just for kids. Neglecting the “to-do” in favor of the “get-to,” and saying yes to some of the things we normally wouldn’t was oddly satisfying. (A Slurpee run before lunch? Okay! Games in our PJs? Why not? Two straws with your drink? Of course. Stay longer at the park? Sure!)
I slowed down and enjoyed my kids without the usual distractions. And I loved it. I ignored the ticking clock, dried milk mustaches, and unmade beds. I actually had fun playing with the little knick-knack toys I can never get the girls to pick up. We pulled out the games that usually teeter precariously in the game closet and enjoyed them as a family.
I had a burst of creativity with some finger paint that had been long neglected. Maybe my appreciation for artistic expression was awakened because I didn’t feel the need to ‘encourage’ anyone to change into matching clothes, nor were there any tears shed over tangled hair (because we didn’t do hair on Kids’ Day!)
Being a “full-time mom” doesn’t mean I can sit and play with toys all day, but I have realized how distracted I can get. It was encouraging and inspiring to use this time to look through the eyes of my children to see what is most important to them.
I was refreshed and energized by just doing things with them. Undivided time with my kids is too valuable to miss. I can say with certainty that I want to be deliberate in playing, relaxing, and just enjoying them–without the guilt.
If I start to fall back on old habits, I know my kids would never object to a mini Kids’ Day (just a refresher, of course) until our official holiday rolls around again.
QUESTION: Are your kids in need of a special day?
CHALLENGE: Take time to plan a fun day with your child/children. Make a “get-to” list together. Try not to worry about your “to-do” list, and focus on enjoying life the way they do.