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It’s the Simple Things

Guest post by Brandy Chandler at Team Chandler

It seems in this hurried world that we rush from this activity to that, making sure our children are “well rounded” and have the opportunity to have fun and to make new friends. Even if we don’t spend money on lessons or sports, we might still find ourselves spending gas money taking them to and from the park or spending buying lunches at McDonalds while they play in the playzone.

I’m guilty! Guilty of trying too hard to provide my child with various opportunities without just giving him time to be a kid. Time to just play.

Recently, we had a “family night”. Typically, this would involve a special (yet quick) meal, movies, games and maybe a special treat. While I pride myself on keeping this way under budget, it hit me: “Family night” isn’t about a well-planned time with one another; it’s about embracing the time to do something spontaneous (yet frugal).

When I asked my 5-year-old what he wanted to do for family night, his simple answer “Play hide and seek”, “watch Wild Kratts with me”, etc. I was given a gentle reminder that sometimes what we, as parents, value as important may not be all that important at all.

It’s about that undivided time with our children doing things they want to in the moment. It’s about saying “Yes” to that 10th game of tic-tac-toe when the dishes need to be done. It’s about saying “Yes” when asked to read that favorite story again when you are ready to drift to sleep. These are the memories that will last. The memories of a mom and dad who were there for the little things.

That is priceless.

Brandy is a work from home mom of two who spends her time homeschooling her oldest child, training for half marathons, couponing and blogging about her families adventures at Team Chandler.

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  • Rhoda says:

    Wonderful post. So true. Thank you for the reminder!

    • Janet says:

      Horrah for this post ! Although sometimes as a homeschool Mom from the past (mine have now graduated grad school ) I personally believe society pushes up to have the “well rounded” child. I can’t tell you the number of times I was told if the kids did not do more they would not get into good colleges. I never piled on more and they went Ivy League. If anyone is interested here is the formula I used.
      #1. Don’t Worry at all about well rounded until a child is at least in 6th grade ( whatever your doing before that believe me it is perfect for your child)
      #2. During 6th or 7th or 8th grade start small I use to start in 6th grade and let the child pick I did lessons on Friday evenings (this way there was no school work after the lesson and they looked forward to the lesson more) My daughter picked horse back riding first after a few weeks she wanted to quit I made her stick it out for the 8 weeks that lessons were paid for this is a good lesson to learn as well.
      Also, after they pick something that is not team oriented like Horse back riding then the next time try to coax them towards team oriented like soccer or in my daughters case she picked rowing and she stuck with it of all things for 6 years and got a scholarship out of it as well.
      #3. Allow for a cycle of a break in this I mean most lessons are say 8 weeks instead of signing a kid up again perhaps let the child take 8 weeks off (this also allows for a second or third sibling to have a lesson in this same time period and with the budgeted monies)
      #4. Many classes /lessons have scholarships offered to those who are low income if you ask around.
      #5. Make certain to have fun or make it as most joyful and fun as it can be. The experience should be positive even if the child decides dance or soccer is not for them.
      #6. Let the child learn how to grow from the experience.
      #7. Remember to enjoy them they grow up so fast !

      I hope this helps!

  • su says:

    You’re right. I am forever trying to get my husband to understand that the kids(we have four) don’t care WHAT they do with him…they just want to do SOMETHING w/him. It’s our time.
    My kids love playing charades, although none of us are very good at it:)

  • Reese says:

    I love PBS & I love “Wild Kratts.” My children & I take an hour a day to watch t.v. together. It’s a nice break for me & them.

  • Erin says:

    You may want to correct your typo. You say “Guilty of trying too hard to provide my child with various opportunities without just giving him time to get a kid.” – I think you mean “be a kid” 🙂

  • Meredith says:

    This is why I tend to over spend on my groceries at times. While I still coupon and try to be as frugal as possible, I learned it is about the simple things. My daughter would much rather have her favorite Popsicles and play ring around the roses in the yard as opposed to going out for ice cream and playing at the park. So what if the popsicles were four bucks? Instead of lunch at a fast food place, she would rather have an outside picnic with a juice box. Those things just thrill her. So I tend to tell myself, so what if I go over budget eve once in awhile. However, I have to laugh as she asked to go out for breakfast tomorrow. We haven’t been in forever so I will take her!

  • Mel says:

    This was so pertinent to me today. I do my best, but honestly sometimes playing with my kids bores me to death. I mean, how many Lego castles can one build? So I was “playing” with them this morning and sneaking time on the laptop in between and my 2 year old said, “Mom–put the ‘puter away. Come play with us.” It was like a dagger through my heart. I needed to remind myself that I’m not doing it for me (although I am rewarded by the bond I’m creating with my children)–I’m doing it for them. And if that means playing “house” with the “Little People” for an hour straight, I’m going to try better to do that.

    • su says:

      I have the same issue…I tend to start to clean the Little People stuff while we’re playing. Kids have a knack for helping us to achieve “mommy guilt”.
      BUT…we love ’em.

    • Meredith Ball says:

      I have this problem daily!!! It seems to be easier though in the summer when we can get outside and play. I can just leave the computer behind. Otherwise, I get bored very easy. I always try to involve my daughter in what I am doing. Even if it’s chopping a vegetable, I will pull out my backup chopping block and give her one of her kid safe knifes with another something to cut up. Or if I have to do something, like iron a shirt for my husband who’s coming home on lunch because he spilled something on it, I will let her come in and play in my room in my sock drawer. Sometimes, it’s just involving them that matters!

    • Nicole says:

      I completely get this. I love, love, love being home with my two little boys, but we don’t have lots of extra money to go out and about every day. I also believe strongly in them being allowed to be children, stay home and play. I want them to have those childhood memories like I have, of being at home with my siblings and playing the days away. BUT, some days, especially when my husband has been working every day for 6 (long) days straight and going to class two nights a week, I go crazy!!! I feel like I am always torn between my children, the computer, couponing, taking some surveys, doing some mystery shops for a little extra cash, cleaning, cooking, etc. etc. etc. I tend to feel guilty many times during the day that I am not completely with my children all day. Yet, I have other things on my shoulders as well! And, playing with Lego’s for 2 hours straight with my 4 year old while my 1 year old naps isn’t always fun! But, I try to remind myself that these days are fleeting. Soon enough, my oldest will start preschool, and when my 1 year old naps, I will have some time to myself again, and then, I am sure, I will wish for these days back. I think of the future when we will inevitably be dealing with much larger issues, and I will long for the days when he wanted to play Legos for 2 hours straight! It’s about perspective, and sometimes, I know I lose sight of things in the day to day at home alone with little ones!

  • What a great reminder. Sometimes the little things in life, mean more than the big things.

    The most important thing that our kids will remember is how much time we spent with them. “Things” are things, time creates memories that last forever. What we THINK matters often doesn’t.

  • What a great post! I agree that the kids just like to spend time with you. We try to have time specifically set aside to have fun together as a family (family game nights, taking turn to have date nights with 1 child, play out in the yard together, or just lay in the hammock talking and giggling).

  • jamie says:

    Severe food allergies have caused our family to “enjoy the simple things” for the past 6 years. No eating out, no vacations, no Chuck-E-Cheese, no McDonald playlands, etc. Just milky residue on public places is a hazard to our son. The occasional stop at the park is fun, but I don’t feel like I have to schedule it in every other day. Right now my two boys are so happy with just the backyard, Wild Kratts, and Legos…and each other. Thank you for reminding me that there are others out there living simply by CHOICE. Even if we didn’t have the medical restrictions, I think we would opt for this lifestyle anyways. It’s just as fun to enjoy God’s blessings of home and family.

  • I’m glad that someone else thinks about the cost of gas when going to the park!

    I recently wrote a guest post over at The King’s Court entitled 15 Fun and Frugal Things to Do with Your Children This Spring
    Without Leaving the House
    . There’s a lot of fun things that you can do together without having to go anywhere, and without having to have a continual outlay of cash.

    Also, don’t forget the value of working together. Sometimes the opportunity to talk comes as your children are doing the dishes and you are cleaning up the kitchen next to them.

  • Kelly R. says:

    Love this post. I look at it this way:
    My kids won’t remember that we enjoyed ice cream from our freezer instead of going to town to get ice cream, but they will remember the fun time we had eating it.
    My kids won’t remember that they didn’t “get” store bought cakes for their birthdays, but they will remember that mom was home all day on their birthdays so I could make them a special cake.
    My kids won’t remember that for the first 5 years of their lives they only wore rummage sale clothes and nice hammy downs from a rich cousin, but they will remember the extra time we spent just read, playing, really doing nothing at all because I could be home with them.
    We are very big on the value of time spent together as a family AT HOME. Talking walks, fishing in our pond, reading together, playing endless board games, so many precious memories.

    • Brandy@TeamChandler says:

      I’ve started making them cakes on their birthday and love it. My oldest has started anticipating “mom’s cake” for his birthday. We still do a store bought one for his birthday with friends, but I find even these are getting more simple with each year.

      Love it.

  • Lynn says:

    I have to interject as the parent of older children (24, 21 and 16). While they were small I often had to remind myself to slow down and enjoy what was going on. But, now that they are grown, I realize they also still need their mom, only in different ways. If they stop by and want to chat, I stop whatever I’m doing. This time I have found is just as important as when they wanted to play Legos or Barbies.

    Thanks for the reminder of how important our kids are. I have finally realized it doesn’t matter if they are 4 or 24 they are still our kids.

  • My brother and I had a similar conversation last year — we were talking about the trip to Disney that his MIL sent them on. He said it was nice, but the kids would have been just as happy playing with the hose in the back yard (they were 2 and 4 at the time).

  • Marie says:

    This was a great post for me today. I have been struggling ever since having a baby 3 months ago. I also have 4 yr. old b/g twins. I had an extremely difficult pregnancy, hyperemesis, and was mostly in bed. I had nurse care at home and had several picc lines due to complications with the pic lines. I was so weak and could barely make it to throw up by myself. During that time much of the housework fell to the bottom of the list of things to do. My husband had enough on his plate with managing the kids and my care all while trying to find work as he was unemployed at the time.
    Now I have a baby and trying to find time in my day to do anything is a challenge. And my kids just want mommy to play with them. They’ve missed so much of me during my pregnancy. But I feel so overwhelmed right now. And I can’t ever get caught up. I manage the things that NEED done like dishes and laundry but have no time for “real” cleaning. And my list of things that NEED done grows with each passing day. By time I get the twins to bed I’m exhausted and the two hours I might have is loss on either feeding the baby or cleaning up the dishes from dinner then I fall into bed exhausted. Part of the struggle is my husband is commuting to CA. every week from MN. So he is here only 2 days. As much as I want to be the mom I was before my pregnancy I am having a hard time finding her. I used to do everything with my kids. I’d make crafts, do projects, go to the park, build lego’s for hours. etc. I want that mommy back but feel like I’m drowning. I’ve tried looking for a mother’s helper but none live close enough.
    I appreciate this post and aspire that one day I will be that mom again. Thanks for sharing.

    • Brandy@TeamChandler says:

      Hey, Marie,
      Hope all is well. When my baby was born, my oldest was 4. He became a really big helper during this time. Over the months, I noticed he was caring for his toys and room better (though not always perfect. 🙂 ). He would help as needed when I asked. I started giving him light chores to help…things like changing out the trash liner in the bathroom, or refilling the diaper bin, setting the table, checking the mail, etc. Odds and in things to help him be involved with the new baby yet still take on some responsibility that was age appropriate.

      While still day to day, it is difficult to find time to get everything in…it is getting easier. I also found that the less clutter I had in the rooms where they would be the better. It made it easier to pick up at the end of the day.


    • The most important thing is to love your children. Seriously everything else can wait! I know it’s not “Green” but how about using paper plates for now! If it’s in your budget try buying more convenience foods. If I lived close to you I would be more than happy to help! My 4 year old will do just about anything if I give him a Clorox wipe and a Swiffer duster. It may not be perfect, but it’s better than nothing! Stay strong!

  • Hey Brandy, my friend, great article. Love your heart! Great reminder of the things that are important. Grace reminded me the other day that “sometimes she feels like I can’t spend time with her because I am on the computer.” Ouch, guilty. I’m trying to work on this. Keep writing and doing the great job that you are doing!

  • Great article. I think I’m guilty of scheduling my kids too much, but growing up my parents didn’t have the money to put me in lessons and I always wanted to take them! I do take time off (especially during the winter) and I really can’t believe how many friendly acquaintances can’t believe that I take a break, but we need a break, a time break and a financial break!

  • Lauren says:

    This post spoke to my heart! I’ve had this on my mind for a while now … now I know God is really laying this on my heart. So thank you! As some others said, it’s something I’ve truly been struggling with in taking care of my 3 girls, out of sheer boredom. I like the reminder that it’s not about me, but THEM. That said, I’m going to now get off the computer and go enjoy them … even if it means playing house for the 124,832,581th time. 🙂

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