We all know that childhood is fleeting…here today and gone tomorrow, but it seems like that flash of time has gotten even shorter. My baby girl turned 8 today. Once upon a time she would still be a little girl, but these days, she is an official tween. What is a tween you might ask? A tween describes the in-between years from childhood to teenager. Personally, I don’t really believe that the tween years are a real thing, and if they are it really shouldn’t be a thing until the ages of 11 and 12. Sadly though, I have witnessed my daughter exiting childhood this year. I feel like we are grasping at childhood, trying to keep it from slipping away. How long can we hold on? I’m not sure, but we will keep a white knuckled grip till the bitter end. So here is my plan, 8 simple ways to hold onto childhood.
- Hold onto toys. I didn’t get rid of my Barbies and Ponies until I was in the 6th grade, Ok truth…I still have some of them. My oldest Britt was in 5th. Haley has already asked to get rid of hers. No way, we are holding onto toys for a bit longer. The days of toys leave and when they do, they don’t come back. So sorry, but yes, I will be forcing my kid to go in her room and play with her toys still. Does it have to be Barbies, of course not, but we’re not giving up toys. I know that she is the baby, so she has grown up thinking she has to be with her older siblings doing what they are doing, and sometimes that is lovely, but sometimes she just needs to go in her room and be an imaginative little girl in a room full of toys.
- Dress like a kid. There are actually kid sized crop tops at the store right now, really, I’m not even kidding. I’m all about cute fashion, and my little girl is pretty darn cute, but she’s 8, not 28. Yes, I will still buy her tutu’s and NO, I will not get her shoes with heels, no matter how many times she begs. She has her whole life to wear horrible, uncomfortable heels as a grown up woman. She is a child right now, and she is going to dress like one. These are the days of scuffed toed bright colored sneakers and shoes that sparkle with sequins.
- Play outside. Too many kids are spending their days on technology. No, I’m not one of those anti-tech moms AT ALL, I want my kids to be properly trained on the latest tech so they are able to function in this world. More than that, I want them ahead of the times, I want them creating and moving forward in this ever changing world we live in. But, technology comes with a price and the price I believe is one of the number one reasons our kids are growing up too fast. They have everything at their fingertips and with all this over-stimulation, they are missing out on just being kids. I’m sorry, but Minecraft doesn’t take the place of making a fort out of random items found around your neighborhood. Your fooling yourself if you think it does.
- Explore. Sure being a kid means that you have to be safe and there have to be boundaries, but being a kid is also about adventure. I know, we don’t live in the same world us parents grew up in, but we have to let our kids spread their wings a little. Why? Because I want my kids to explore the park and imagine they are in a forest, I want them to find an old tree and make it a fort, yes, I actually want them to have some independence. With the whole helicopter mom generation, we have completely lost the adventure of childhood. And don’t even get me started on how we have raised helpless winy babies who don’t know how to do anything for themselves, that is for another blog.
- Relax. My family has easily overstepped this boundary this year, and it’s easy to do. But we are over scheduling our kids. How can a kid be a kid if they are rushing from event to event every evening, icing muscles and practicing scales. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with sports or music. My kids are in both, we want them in both, we think both are important. But between that and the ever increasing work load at school, kids barely even have time to play outside, explore, or play toys…
- Be careful what you see. Games, internet, Tv, and movies just get more and more graphic and continue to push sexual boundaries. It’s hard to be a kid when the most popular shows on Disney and Nic portray sassy mouthed children, dressed like teens, with idiots for parents, and when ever song and movie pushing sexuality. Then there’s the internet, where our kids are exposed to WAY more WAY earlier and WAY more readily than ever before.
- You are what you eat. Why do lower socio-economic area have kids hitting puberty at earlier ages? There simply has to be a correlation between the cheap hormone added meats and dairies, as well as the processed foods with ingredients no one has ever heard of. I’m not trying to be the crazy organic lady here, but we have to monitor what our kids are eating and give them whole foods as much as possible.
- Last, don’t fall into the pressure to be all things. We live in a screwy world where there is no truth, and to be a good person you have to be able to be all things and accepting of all things. Some of this is good, some isn’t, but either way, it’s really hard. Kids are brutally honest and being a kid is all about expressing and learning to understand the world around them. that’s hard to do if we are constantly telling them not to say, think, or feel this or that. Have convictions but don’t tell anyone they are wrong. Take a stand for what you believe in, as long as it’s not offensive to someone else. It’s impossible.
When will childhood finally escape my grip for good? I can’t really know, hopefully never. These truths are as important to my older kids, and even my husband and I, as they are to my baby girl. I only know that I am going to try my hardest to hold back the pressure of growing up for as long as possible.