We've all heard it before - let them be little. But, what does that mean?
I've been thinking a lot lately about the saying "let them be little" and what it means to me. When I had my daughter I wanted everything to be sunshine and rainbows always for her entire childhood because I felt that that is what every child deserves. But, then, her father and I got divorced and life wasn't ever the same again. How could I go through this massive traumatic experience and still allow her to be little? I realized that it wasn't realistic to live in a world without sadness and that that wasn't what being little meant at all.
"They're humans too"
Fast forward a few years later and I'm in a new relationship with an amazing man and we have an unplanned pregnancy. Now, there's two littles in our family. One who is brand new to this world and another who has about 8 years experience. My perspective on life has changed immensely. My parenting style has its core values which remain the same but I've come to terms with reality as well. So, what does it mean? Let them be little. It's pretty simple. Actually, it's the simplest thing in the world. Let them be. Just let them be who they are. Kids are messy. Kids are chaotic. Kids are emotional. Kids are hilarious. Kids are weird AF. But mostly kids are so full of joy and love that we should really be the ones learning from them. I am a lover of table manners in the sense that you should know how to properly use a fork and knife by a certain age, say please and thank you, asked to be excused when you're done your meal and always take your dishes to the sink when you're done. Maybe that's old school but, I like those rules of thoughtfulness and kindness. However, that doesn't mean that you can't have fun at the dinner table! You can use your hands if you need to. You can blow bubbles in your drink. You can tell silly stories that make everyone laugh. Because, what is life without fun? What is life without exploring the things in front of you? Kids are so curious and incredibly intuitive if you let them harness their own full potential. Kids are also extremely emotional little beings. They are humans after all. We all have our bad days. We all get sad sometimes for reasons we're not sure of. We all have moments of anger - for me it's usually hunger induced (I call them the hangries). Sometimes we forget that kids are just like us but little. They have emotions too and they should be allowed to show them so that they can become comfortable feeling them and know they're safe in those feelings. If they fall down and hurt themselves and need a hug, hug them. If they get upset because they didn't get their favourite cup, it's ok, let them express their feelings and validate them.
They're humans too.
They're going to need guidance and love and validation throughout their entire lives. The things I've learnt from my divorce is that it's ok for your kids to see you cry. It's ok for kids to see that even adults have rough days where they don't feel happy. On the days my daughter had a harder time with the divorce she'd say "I just don't feel like myself today mama" and I'd always let her know that that was ok. It's ok for them to see us as imperfect beings because that's what we all are at the end of the day. As long as they know we love them. I still call my mom and/or dad when I'm feeling overwhelmed or upset about something to this day. They're my safe place. I know they'll always love me.
Kids shouldn't ever have to worry about you not loving them for any reason ever. They don't need to know "adult" topics. Their innocence can only last so long before it's tainted by something or someone along the way. So, for now, just let them live in their own little beautiful bubble of stress free, worry free, love filled days. Why not let them splash in puddles? If you're worried about them ruining their clothes, maybe they need less expensive things to wear so they can play in the mud. Let them touch every tree. Let them pick up every rock or pebble. This is their only time as a little. When you see a child's face light up because they've noticed something for the first time and they just so desperately want to touch it or be near it - let them! (obviously, safety first) They'll never get this time back and neither will you. They're only going to be this small for such a short amount of time in their life. So, let them make that mess! Do crafts every day. Dig up worms and touch weird bugs. Make all the cookies! Feed the birds and go for slow walks in the forest because, one day you'll have an empty, clean, kid free, mess free house and you'll think back and wonder why you didn't see the beauty in what you had in front of you all those years ago. This is their only childhood. Let them be little.