For the Millennial Mom: Five Childhood Unplugged Ideas That Will Make You Think Twice About "Screen Time"
Okay so when I say "millennial mom" I don't mean moms who belong to the millennial age group. I mean moms who are raising children in this millennial age -- no matter how old the mom or the child is. And I know these points have been made before but here me out because I may just be coming from a slightly different perspective. 😉
1. Date Your Daughter (Son)
My mom was a single mom for the most part of my formative years (she and my father separated when I was 3 years old and she and my stepdad got together when I was 8 years old). Obviously a home-based career was unheard of in those days, so my mother didn't really have the luxury of spending quality one-on-one time with me or my younger brother.
Not blaming the outcome of my life on my mother (because ultimately my decisions led me to where I am now), but becoming a mother myself and my daughter now 4 years old, I am experiencing firsthand all the seemingly endless and constant questions she has about life and herself -- her identity as a girl and especially her value as a person.
Now these same questions may have been left unanswered for me when I was that age, which most likely had a serious impact in the way I perceived myself, my worth, and my value growing up.
...to introduce her to new concepts and activities when I felt she was old enough to understand their meaning and significance.
So it has been my practice since my daughter was born, to introduce her to new concepts and activities when I felt she was old enough to understand their meaning and significance. So on Valentine's Day this year, less than 6 months before she turned 4 years old, I took her out on our first date.
I planned it for weeks. I booked us a table with a view at Mom & Tina's and got her a really nice gift (a framed illustration of herself by Holley+Sage). Valentine's Day was a school day so I asked permission from her teacher if I could pick her up early for our "date." She was so pleasantly surprised when I showed up at school with a bouquet of flowers from Holland Tulips and a beautiful handmade heirloom dress (also from Holley+Sage) for her to change into.
We went to Mom & Tina's and talked over a delicious dinner. I showed her that I turned off my phone so that all my attention would be on her that night. I asked her about her day, her feelings, and the things she did and wanted to do that week. I complimented her dress and constantly told her how beautiful she was all evening and how much I loved her.
We've been on many other "Mother-Daughter Dates" since Valentine's Day, but what I had hoped to lay the foundations of that night was a concept of the kind of standard she should have about "dates" so that she would never accept or settle for anything less.
2. Make Them Your Plus One
I know this sounds like something a single mom like me could and would do, but it actually can work for married moms too. I mean how many times have you passed on an event invitation because your husband couldn't go right? 😏 So why not just take your kid?
I've been invited to birthdays, baptisms, movie nights and weddings -- and to each one I choose to bring my daughter. Yes, I could easily find a playdate or babysitter to watch her while I'm out, but I don't and I don't want to. I take her with me because I want her to know that (a) I enjoy the pleasure of her company, (b) if I'm going to have fun at an event, she's the one I want to share it with, and that (c) she will grow up soon enough and get invited to her own events, and I probably will not be her plus one. 😜 Cue bucket of tears.😭😂😭😂
3. Don't Be Afraid to Travel
As I write this part of my blog, we are on the third day of our week-long trip to New Zealand. And I am pleased to write that me and my four-year old daughter survived our first long-haul flight (and all its delays and layovers) with flying colors!
I will write more about what worked and what didn't work for us to make the trip easier and stuff we learned on our first trip together out of the country in a future blog, but for now I want to encourage us all to travel with our kids. Why? Because nothing bonds relationships and enriches the spirit quite like traveling. I leaned to look at my daughter sleeping beside me when I noticed a slit of light piercing through the dark sky. I knew from past experiences exactly what it was and promptly woke up my daughter. Unlike the common reaction people would have when you wake them up from a good night's sleep, my daughter immediately opened her big eyes and sat up beside the window when I told her: "Keilah wake up, it's sunrise!"
My daughter watched her first sunrise from within the clouds. Shesaw the starry night sky blend with the rich colors of the sunrise and loved every moment of it. The best part of it is I finally have a travel buddy who enjoys watching the sunrise from the sky as much as I do.
She also proved to me that friendship doesn't have to be limited by race or geographic location
She also proved to me that friendship doesn't have to be limited by race or geographic location when she and a local little girl from Auckland met after we boarded from our layover in Cairns, Australia -- they looked at each other for three seconds and decided to be best friends the whole flight through and even after we landed. They only had to say goodbye when we had to go through international immigration and her "new bestie" went to the area for New Zealand Citizens.
4. Join Them At Play
I am guilty of not doing this as often as I should and actually want to. In my heart all I want to do is sit down with my daughter all day, watching her or playing with her and I know my situation a very "valid" excuse -- single mom, sole provider, no household help or even help from relatives -- to say "I just don't have time to play." But I shouldn't say that. And neither should you.
Growing up an only child, my daughter has become an expert at "self-play." BUT that doesn't mean she is immune from feelings of loneliness, boredom, and frustration. Every human being craves interaction, all the more when they are young. Children thrive on the attention of their family, their parents and especially their mothers. In fact, their creative play is often triggered by their interactions with us!
Many times while listening to my daughter play, I would hear her call her dolls "pet names" that I call her, like "Darling Pie" or "Sweetiekins" and "Hunny Bunny." She would also often play along the routines of what we do at home; like while I am cooking breakfast, she will also "cook" too in her play area.
Joining our kids at play lets them know that we are interested in what matters to them. This lays the foundation of them being secure that we care about who they are and what they do. Allowing them to grow up with an openness and vulnerability toward us; instead of the typical "distant" behavior that so many parents experience in the latter years of their child's life.
5. Treat Them Like Royalty
And I don't mean spoil them! After all, the original intent of the status of "royalty" had more to do with PURPOSE rather than PRIVILEGE. It was said that kings and queens were accountable only to God and that their every action was meant to be an extension of God's will and intentions toward people.
Of course we know that the kings and queens of history did not really do that AT ALL but it doesn't mean that we can't, in our own small way, restore the original design of "royalty" in our families.
So when I remind my daughter that she is a "Princess," I don't mean this to just be about wearing pretty dresses (although she has quite a few) and having good manners; I try to raise her to be considerate of other people, to reciprocate kindness, to be generous in sharing her blessings, to give value to people, relationships and things and to always be grateful for everything she has.
In short, I try to raise her knowing that like royalty, she too has a God-given purpose and that her life is meant to be dedicated to the fulfillment of God's will and that she should treat people and things with the same value that God treats them.