So I was in Wal-mart last night, and as I was waiting at the register, I overheard a conversation between the checkout gal and the mom [of two tweens – one boy and one girl to be specific] who was in line ahead of me:
Checkout Girl: “Look at all this fun stuff! You must be planning a party!”
Mom Checking Out: “No, we’re actually getting ready to go on a camping trip….”
After hearing this, I noticed hot dogs, hot dog buns, graham crackers, chocolate bars…You know, all the paraphernalia necessary to throw together campfire hot dogs with S’mores as dessert, but I also noticed lots of other supplies…and the mom wasn’t finished with her story. She went on to explain…
Mom Checking Out: “…and I came here to stock up on plenty of crafts to keep everyone busy while we’re camping.”
Checkout Girl: “How long are you going to be gone?”
Mom Checkout Out: “We’re going to be camping for three days, and I want to make sure I have plenty for my kids to do while we’re there!”
This conversation immediately caught my attention. I wasn’t necessarily bothered by the fact that she was buying crafts to do with her kiddos. I mean, have you SEEN my Instagram account? I love a good activity any day of the week, but it did get me to thinking about motherhood in general.
Is it possible that we have reached a point in our parenting where we feel a plethora of crafts is necessary for a three-day camping trip?! Are there really not enough interesting components to camping that we have decided it is necessary to bring along all manner of googly eyes and pipe cleaners?!
In comparison to the way past generations have parented, this kind of thing seems completely absurd.
Do you agree?
Listen, it was obvious that this mama was rockin’ the whole motherhood thing. I witnessed her being kind and attentive to her kiddos, and I realize she was doing her best to plan a fun camping trip for her family, and there is nothing at all wrong with gettin’ your craft on – wherever you are. If you want to plan camping crafts for your crew, you go right on ahead, but it got me thinking about some of the things I’ve sensed as I’ve chatted and interacted with other moms.
In general, I fear we are all spending too much time on social media (Pinterest…ahem)…too much time comparing our family’s experiences to those of others’ around us…and it has resulted in some of us feeling the pressure to do the elaborate at times when maybe simple would be best.
It’s not that there is anything wrong with the elaborate…not at all. I love putting together exciting activities for my kids, planning fun-filled parties for them, gathering items for seasonal crafts I know they’ll love, but mom friends, let’s do additional things like that because we want to…because we truly enjoy making it happen…because we know our kids are going to love a little extra special something. If that’s your thing, go for it (Just like this mama in Walmart!), but if that’s not how your family operates best, that’s okay, too! I would encourage you to embrace what works well for you…and your children…and your family life.
If you didn’t plan crafts for your family’s camping trip, please don’t stand in a Wal-mart checkout line such as this and feel less than. Please reject the thief that comparison can be. Please understand that you are doing a fantastic job at motherhood – even if you didn’t gather paint and pom poms before heading to the campground. Maybe your family enjoyed other activities together while you were in the great outdoors. That’s great!
We have got to stop putting unhealthy pressure on ourselves.
It is ruining us…and our kids!
It is stealing from us the simple joys of motherhood.
It is robbing our babies of learning how to create on their own.
If our children are going to learn how to abide, we must provide them with space to do so.
If our children are going to learn how to invent, we must allow them to experience want.
If our children are going to learn how to entertain themselves, we must gift them with opportunities to be bored.
This goes against everything that our culture communicates to us as mothers. The culture says we should overfill our family’s schedule…fulfill every wish of our children…and never, ever, ever leave any room for boredom.
We are over-scheduling and over-entertaining our kids to the point that they have become unable to function. Their sense of independence…their ability to create…we are stifling all of this, and it’s so important that we stop and consider what a healthy perspective on all of this looks like for our family life.
Crafts on a camping trip? While I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with it, I do think we must be aware of our why’s. If you’ve hung around this space for long then you know I get excited about a good hands-on activity – learning games, craft ideas, experiments, I love it all! The teacher in me simply can not help her self, and I’ll admit that I even like to take activities along with us when we travel.
When we hop in the minivan for a road trip, I like for my kids to have things with them to do in the car – a couple of books, some kind of coloring activity, maybe some stickers. I encourage them choose a few items before we leave, and it works great for us; and sometimes when we go to the beach, I bring along themed-activities for them to do during down time in the condo, and it helps to keep little hands busy while hubby and I are throwing something together for everyone to eat; but are these types of extras the measurement stick we are using to gauge whether or not we are good moms? I sure hope not.
C’mon now, mamas…let’s let all of the comparison go. Let’s give ourselves [and each other] the freedom to simply love our children and enjoy the simple moments with them. Simple moments are what has always made camping so special for our family, and I think that it why the conversation I overheard in Wal-mart caught my attention like it did.
Some families’ simple moments will include arts and crafts…but some will not.
As parents, we are commanded to point our kids to Jesus and teach them how to love and serve others…that’s it…there is nothing in the Holy Scriptures that references scissors and a hole punch.
If you want to take your glue gun to the campground, you knock yourself out (Could be fun!), but please, please, please don’t put an unnecessary pressure on yourself to pack anything in addition to those S’mores…and just so you know, I’ve heard Reese cups melted on graham crackers with a marshmallow stuck in between is all the rage these days.
Forget the googly eyes. 😉