When the good weather came to Ireland for the first time this year, for those two short, yet desperately needed, days I wondered what do to with the girls. My husband was away for work and so something I could easily do solo with a 4 and 1-year-old but that would also ensure the most was made of the fine weather.
The overwhelming urge to fit in every single outdoor activity possible while the sun was shining was playing on me. My poor children needed to experience the sunshine after the longest winter known to man and I, as their mother, was responsible for making sure to add some experiences of sun filled fun and frolics to their childhood memories.
Will I take them to the park?
But we went there the other day between rain-showers.
Maybe the beach?
But the thought of preventing two small people from attempting to drown themselves or each other for the entire time was less than appealing.
A walk in the woods?
No, the damn trees would block out all that glorious sunshine and I needed them to absorb and top up on vitamin D.
I was as a loss. What could I do to make their day of sunshine something they’d remember? (OK, realistically the 1-year-old won’t remember but you never know what could be their first memory!)
I had nothing. And so instead I dragged out the old sandpit crab, dumped last years sand and realised I didn’t have any more left. Crap – I was really messing up this day of sunshine. Oh well, nothing I could do about it now, might as well just go outside and show them the sun anyway.
Sunscreen, hats and a backpack on (that’s the littlest one – she just loves having a backpack on) and out we went…
And it was amazing!
Sometimes, in an effort to create fun and entertainment for our kids, I think we forget just how incredible and imaginative they are – all on their own.
Buckets were filled with water, rocks were collected through numerous trips back and forth across the garden, flowers were picked, mermaid toys were gathered and that empty shell of a crab sandpit I thought was useless became a magical mermaid beach. But it was the time they spent making that beach that was the real fun – not just playing with it, not just being given something I had pre-prepared.
It was roaming around looking for all the bits and pieces they would add, the excitement at finding the perfect rocks, the careful placing of the flowers to become lily pads, the excitement of pouring the water in themselves, the splashes of the rocks when they dropped them in before rushing off to collect some more.
They were playing just outside the front door. No elaborate plan was executed, there were no expensive toys set up, and they had an absolute ball.
And just like that I learned another very important parenting (and life) lesson;
The next time I find myself getting all worked up trying to orchestrate the best scenario and the ideal situation to create the perfect memories for my girls I’m instead going to take a step back and let life happen.
And, most importantly, I’m going to enjoy each and every second.