In all my years of raising children I was often asked, “How does it come so easy for you?” Easy isn’t really the right word. Parenting isn’t something that is easy or hard, it is your choice. Everyday when your feet hit the floor you can decide to make this a good day or not. I was one of those parents who really enjoyed watching my children play, grow and develop through the years. I did not spend every second playing with them, or making sure they were constantly entertained, after all I was a busy mom. I was close by, and kept my eyes on everything. However, I also gave my kids opportunities for them to be creative. As a single mom of five, I rarely had any money for toys or “fun things.” What I did, was help them use their imagination to fuel their own ideas.
Our dining room table was always filled with things to do: Construction paper, envelopes, stickers, safety scissors (for those who were old enough), glitter, cut outs, play dough, paste, crayons and markers. Two decorated shoe boxes stored all of these items.When they went to bed (right at 8:30) I gathered all my magazines, some from neighbors and family, and cut out pictures. Some were of people, flowers, food, scenic travels and more. The next day, my kids were excited about making their own collage. It takes very little money to let your kids have fun. If this was the easy part, then I would agree. I feel the hard part of parenting, is when you feel guilty you don’t give your children enough. I had those days too, but I also knew early on, not to dwell on it.
To me having a happy, fun, creative child who learned how to use their imaginations was by far, healthier than buying the most expensive toy. Keep it simple, and it can be so much fun. Parents put too much stress on themselves when it comes to entertaining their children. What do kids want the most? Your time. I gave them that, but I also encouraged them to learn to explore, create, invent, discover their own abilities too. What can a three year old do with a paper plate? Paint it, color it, put ribbons on it, make it a special bedroom door hangar, or decorate it to hang on a backyard tree. What is special about a plain old rock for a four year old? Well, with bright colored poster paints it can be placed in your garden and take on a whole new meaning of “rock gardens”.
Maybe these ideas seem too simple, well they are. I have had over 25 years of creating hours of simple fun for my children and scores of others. Everyday, I saw what “simple fun” gave to children. It gave them self esteem and confidence, and that is something money can’t buy.
Article by Laurie Cesario-Overton