Wednesday 17 August 2016

Giving Them Their Childhood Back

WOW, it's been just about a month since my last post.  Summer is just flying by.  We have been enjoying a ton of family time at the lake while camping.  What I want to reflect upon today is how I have been giving my children their childhood back.  Please remember this is my story and in no way am I a perfect parent, nor do I feel I know best, nor our my ways of parenting better/worse than anyone else's.  These are my own observations and my own feelings, which you may/may not agree with. 


When we first began camping, I went all Pinterest mom.  I created not only a meal plan, which I still use in order to help with packing our little trailer efficiently, but that first year I was full on in TEACHER MODE.  I had every day planned with games, crafts, nap times, activities, the WHOLE THING.  My type A personality completely took over and I felt very mom of the year.  Guess what happened?!?  We got out there and the kids just were kids and we barely touched all my goodies.  That was 4 summers ago and I quickly realized that is not at all what my kids wanted/needed/craved.  Now I basically let them pack some coloring stuff and a couple of books, cards and dominos.  That’s it because what I’ve discovered is that my kids find all kinds of things and new friends to play with. 

Catching a bucket full of minnows.

Anya and her friend making a mermaid tail for Halie.



Over the years we have gone camping with a bunch of friends a very kid friendly camp ground.  This place doesn’t have bears or wild animals, which is sad but also wonderful at the same time.  We take their bikes and they just GO (with and//or without helmets, don’t judge).  They go into the tree area and have a secret hide out which over the years has been a fairy garden, hide and seek spots, maze, grocery store and restaurant.  They fall and get back up.  They get disorientated and they find their way.  The thing is they mostly do this without me or my husband. 

Ice tea stand at the campground. 



I used to sit with them at the playground, being the responsible parent, sometimes even judging the parents who were never there, but now I am that parent.  You know why?!?  Because over the years I’ve realized in an attempt to keep my children safe from harm, I’ve actually helped cultivate their inability to make decisions by just trusting their instincts.  In order to ensure that they didn’t get hurt I always stopped them and told them why that might not be a good idea; I never actually gave them an opportunity to come to that conclusion on their own.    I still remember when I realized this about myself.  It was our second year at this playground and Halie was six and a half.  We let her go to the playground in the evening while we cleaned up and put Anya to bed.  She had been going confidently all week.  It got a bit later and I wondered over to the park to find my sweet girl, sitting by herself, all the kids had left, and crying quietly.  It broke my heart and I felt horrible.  We talked about it and went through what maybe she should have done.  I went with her the following day and probably the days after.  Upon reflection though what I came to realize was that this was a great lesson to learn in a safe environment.  Honestly we talked to her about noticing the kids leaving, asking a adult for help, yes a stranger!, and just thinking what she should to logically.  The truth is we had always been there to make the decisions and even though we talked about these decisions we had never given her an opportunity, or very few, to make them on her own.  By doing, making a mistake, children actually learn. 

Halie's camping pet. 



So now we free-range parent in a safe environment.  We created a scavenger hunt for the kids and sent them off in a group of six at 8 p,m. and told them to come back when it was done or when it got dark.  We told them their parameters were the campground which they knew well.  They stuck together and were gone for 45 minutes.  They had a blast!  They felt confident! They worked as a team!  They figured it out! They felt successful!  We even had a bonus on their that they needed to find a stranger and get their signature, we talked to them about how to use their manners and approach someone. 



Off they go to find the treasure!


They found all 10 items, plus the 2 bonus rounds. 



I want my kids to be safe but I know that in order to develop “common sense” they need opportunities to encounter challenges and to make decisions by themselves and hope for the best.  It’s not always possible in the city, when we are running from place to place, but at the camp ground they can just be kids.  Run wild.  Play in the bush.  Use their imaginations when they are bored.  Depend on themselves as children to come up with tier own fun rather than having adults create the opportunities for them. 



For an interesting read check out the following article I'm Done Making My Kid's Childhood Magical.


  1. I love the concept of giving the kids their childhood say it so well. I need to reflect on this and take a page from your book!

  2. Thanks Dee. From what I read on your blog and when we've had a few times to chat I have honestly felt that you do that for your children!!! I don't claim to be an expert at all and have stumbled and will continue to stumble over the "RIGHT" decisions in terms of parenting and life itself. I guess what I am realizing more and more is that there are many "right" decisions and they are different for different families, different circumstances and different perspectives. I honestly feel we are all trying to do the best by our kids.