When my kids were little, I felt like I lived on the floor of our living room. Looking back at video footage of Christmas mornings and birthday celebrations seem to confirm my memory because the entire time I seem to be at their level, assisting in present opening and sharing excitement over every little thing. I felt like a human Jungle Gym, with babies climbing and hanging off of me all day.
But when I watch footage of regular days, the quick capture of dressing up and dancing and playing with cars, I see that I am often on the periphery, cooking or cleaning and walking through the chaos, responding but not really a part of the fun. Why is that?
I can remember my guy pulling the big video camera out of it’s bag (yes, really) and starting to record whatever our little treasures were into, and I would react with a need to clean up the environment. We can’t let ourselves believe we lived in this mess, can we? The pressure to appear that we have it all together is so strong, even in our home movies. And what if a friend came over? How awful to be caught with this morning’s dishes not done, or to appear that I don’t have this parenting thing nailed?
I often have young moms ask me what I wish I had done better when my children were the ages of theirs. Many things, but high on the list would be: I wish I had spent more time on the floor with my babies. You can’t do laundry or cook dinner or run errands from down there, but you can read books and fire up imaginations and give unlimited hugs, kisses and affirmation. Have you ever noticed that you’re better at this at someone else’s house? It’s because you don’t have tasks to do there.
I want to encourage young parents to get on the floor (and the grass) and stay there longer than you intend to. Everyday. That other stuff? It can wait.