This weekend I learned a valuable parenting lesson. Before I share this, let me briefly describe my situation. I recently went thru a breakup so I’m trying to find a place to stay. I’m a single Father and I have my children every weekend. I’m also broke… Very broke! It’s a struggle, but it’s temporary. Luckily I was blessed to have a good friend let me use his apt for the month of Sept. He got a new job and was relocated and his lease isn’t up until the end of the month. He left me a few things to survive, including groceries, a tv and a blow-up mattress.
So I picked up my kids this weekend, feeling good that I had a place to take them finally, but still uneasy about what to do to entertain them. I mean, I barely had enough gas to drive to pick them up. So I was planning for a weekend in the house. I also picked up my mom and little sister to stay the night cuz they just got here from out of state and the kids need to spend time with them. We got to the apt and spread blankets and pillows across the floor. Everyone got comfortable, I made some Hamburger Helper, and pulled out some board games. We started with Scrabble, then Monopoly. My little sister took my daughters into the bathroom and put some make-up on them. I found my old Hanibal Lecter mask and chased the kids around the living room and kitchen, slamming them on the mattress when I caught em. When that got boring we hooked up the Wii and everyone played Just Dance 2. Soon after everyone was starving, so I went to the closest store and got 2 frozen pizzas. Had the kids shower while I made dinner and after they ate we all found space on the floor to sleep.
The next morning I made a big breakfast and we played games til it was time for the kids to go home. To my surprise, no one wanted to go home! Why would anyone wanna stay somewhere where they have to sleep on a floor in a crowded space? They have their own bedrooms back home, tv and video games everywhere, backyard, basketball hoop… It made no sense to me. But then I looked at the bigger picture. The kids had my full attention the entire weekend. Being in just one room, we had to enjoy each other. I couldn’t rest or watch my own tv shows while they played video games in their own rooms. I couldn’t send them outside to play while I sat wrapped up in my smartphone or on the internet. For them, it wasn’t about what they had, but the attention they felt from me. Something all kids yearn but are used to not getting so they learn to entertain theirselves.
The lesson I want you to take from wasting 3 min of your valuable time reading this is: Focus less on trying to get material possessions for your children to keep them happy. I believe as parents we have gotten to a point where we spend more and more money on our kids to justify not spending as much time with them. Way too often parents tell their kids “Why are you always in my room? I didn’t buy you your own tv and all those video games and toys for nothin. Go play!” Or “Why you always askin me to play games with you? Where’s your brother/sister?” Having the money to buy them everything or having more than 1 child in the house is NOT an excuse to neglect playing with your children.
I’m nowhere near a perfect parent. Neither are you. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone because I’m guilty of every scenario I described above. I’m just sharing my experience in hopes of helping other parents better themselves. Whether you see your child(ren) everyday or once a week, spend that time with them. Videogames and internet do not replace family playtime. Thanks for reading. Enjoy your day and make your kids smile!