Each night before bed, my kids and I share with each other our best and worst parts of the day.
We call this tradition “best part, worst part.”
We never miss “best part, worst part,” not even when we’re away on vacation.
Usual worst parts: getting stuck in traffic, getting to the carpool line late, and having a meltdown (the kids, not me.)
Usual best parts: playing outside, eating pizza for dinner, and “camping out” in the living room.
Here’s the thing.
My kids never, ever pick receiving “stuff” as their best parts.
It’s not because there is a shortage of
junk toys in our house.
Without fail, they pick experiences that usually don’t cost a lot of money, if any at all.
Consider your fondest memories from your own childhood.
I guarantee they didn’t involve “things.”
Instead, they probably involved moments.
Spending time with your relatives who aren’t alive anymore.
Remembering the good smell of your grandparents’ house and the way their blue shag carpet felt on your bare feet.
Climbing oak trees with your siblings.
Snuggling in bed and reading books with your mom.
I haven’t conducted any scientific polling, but I doubt anyone my age ever looks back on their childhood and thinks the best part was when their parents bought them a Super Nintendo, Guess Jeans, or even a new car on their 16th birthday.
(Although I’ll admit one of the best parts of my childhood was being able to eat an entire box of donuts with zero guilt or consequences, but I digress.)
As parents, we put an insane amount of stress on ourselves to hustle and make tons of money to provide “things” for our kids that ultimately don’t matter.
What ends up happening is we become physically and emotionally disconnected from our kids because we are so busy working or figuring out how to make more money that we miss all the special time in between. We get home from work but we aren’t. really. home. from. work.
This is exacerbated by social media, where there is pressure to take exotic vacations and always be “doing” something exciting.
Heaven forbid our lives, to the outside world, appear mundane.
So people take trips they can’t afford and buy things they don’t really even want because they think their kids care about those things when all our kids really want is to have special moments with their parents.
And those moments are free.
The mundane is where the magic happens.
The real memories are made reading books together each night before bed. They are made loudly singing songs in the car. Telling jokes. Going for walks. Playing dress up. Taking long bike rides. Building sandcastles at the beach. Sitting at the kitchen table playing board games. Baking cookies.
None of this is glamorous, but those are the moments that matter that your kids will remember.
They are the “best part” of what life has to offer.
So for parents scrambling to provide “things” for your kids: give yourselves a break. Your kids will love you if you are rich or if you are poor. They don’t care about your money or whether you buy them designer products or take them on expensive vacations. They care about you being their parent.
You are doing a great job just by being you.