by Laura Pfaff
I often pause to notice now grown up my daughters are quickly getting. While only 11 and 7 years old, I tell them to stop growing up so fast and then kiddingly try to convince them to stay 11 and 7 forever. Eyes are rolled and heads are shaken as they think what a dork their mom is.
While I am always (ok, usually!) sad to see each stage come to an end, the next one always proves to be fun, and challenging, in other ways. However, I have noticed a common theme as each year passes: the struggle to keep my girls carefree and stress-free for as long as possible.
I certainly do not have all of the answers for harnessing childhood innocence, but below are some things that I am trying to do in my quest for my girls to “be kids” for as long as possible:
1. We are holding off on the dreaded cell phone for as long we can!
This should be simple but is oh so hard to do. Some kids need them (divorced parents is one) but I cannot identify any real ‘need’ for my 11-year-old to justify a phone! But now that she is a rising 6th grader, most of her friends are getting them- and in droves. I am trying to not let that influence my decision, but it certainly makes standing firm difficult! Only time will tell but I am fighting the good fight for now.FYI: The iTouch has been a great transitional device. It allows her to text friends (those with Apple devices- which is ALL of them!), but I can restrict her Internet access and apps. Every app. she wants to install must be approved by me via my iPhone. I know her password and check her texts often. The best part is that there is no monthly fee! She can only text when on WiFi, but is that so bad?!?! She seems to think so….!
2. We have chosen to not allow any social media (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter) until age 13.
Friends in my running group with older children have shared awful personal stories of exclusion and bullying and as a result of social media. Most social media use is taking pictures with friends at events and posting them for all to see. As a result, those not included can now see what they were not invited to, and young minds are typically not mature enough to handle this. Exclusion is usually not the intent, but is often the result, of kids being on social media.
3. It is OK to help pick your younger kids friends!
This was great advice that another mother gave me when my oldest was in 1st grade. Let’s face it… we know which kids are sweet and which will be pole dancing in 15 years! Don’t feel guilty for avoiding some children but instead follow your gut and guide them as much as you can to build friendships with the good eggs.
4. We limit after school activities to 2 per season/semester.
Soccer and piano is a big time commitment during the school year. Volleyball and band makes a full after school and weekend schedule. An additional activity on top that can add to kid’s stress. They have the rest of their adult lives for that!
I now realize that this quest for innocence is why I started my business, EarZings. My daughter was 7 and wanted her ears pierced. We wanted her to wait until she was a bit older and, in a moment of desperation and to pacify my persistent child, EarZings pierce-free earrings were invented. With EarZings, no longer do girls need to pierce ears to wear fashionable, comfortable earrings. And, as an unintended result, EarZings bought us time until ear piercing. EarZings have also proven great for girls who can’t pierce because of sports limitations, allergic reactions, or chronic infections. They also can give a double pierced look without another piercing too!
Stay strong with your own motherly convictions to keep your kid a kid for as long as you can! Quoting Norm from Cheers, “It’s a dog eat dog world, and I’m wearing Milk Bone underpants”!