Let Them Be Children


My husband and I were chatting yesterday about our childhoods in comparison to how our kids are growing up. In many regards, I feel like our generation says (smugly), “We are doing this better.” But I spend a lot of time thinking, “I don’t want my kids to grow up this way.” I wrote about cell phones a while back, Emily G. wrote about growing up in a small town last month, and Helen wrote about Pinterest stress last year.

I’m sensing a theme here; maybe we’re all feeling a little out of control . . . pulled and yanked every which way. Internally pressured to be this or that, and raise kids that turn out perfectly.

And sometimes I wish I could just go back to the good old days . . .

When we didn’t have answering machines, and if someone couldn’t get a hold of us, well that was that. And there weren’t texts that looked like this: “?” or “Hello??” when we didn’t respond in four seconds.

When we couldn’t take our phones with us, and date nights were unclouded by work, and playgrounds were just moms and kids, not moms, kids, and Facebook.

When we were in our yards getting to know our neighbors, and being a community instead of being a weird, introverted, internet society.


When we didn’t have too much information at our fingertips. When we knew bad stuff happened, but we didn’t have apps to tell us where the creepers lived. When we were just careful, and locked our doors, and didn’t talk to strangers, and said a prayer for safety instead of knowing about every single scary ounce of crime on our streets thanks to the Nextdoor App.


When we read books and played with non-electronic toys and played outside, because we didn’t have other options. We were kids. We spent hours being “lost” in the front yard, pretending to live off the land and acorns. We drew pictures and rode bikes and made up plays. And sometimes we watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, but cable and videos were for specially sanctioned times like movie nights and visits to Grandparents’.

When our parents didn’t worry about whether we were “socialized”, because wandering around the neighborhood and playing with our siblings was enough and they became our best friends . . . and still are. We didn’t need playdates; our friends were always around.

When only the rich kids had computers and the rest of us made do with playing Oregon Trail and Frogger at school…

When our parents weren’t freaking out about which Kindergarten we got into, and schools systems weren’t freaking out about who passed what test . . . and learning was learning, regardless of public schools or private schools. And it didn’t matter if we took AP classes . . . we could still get scholarships.

When it was ok to play on a team that never won because there was always a Coke at the end, and your parents were proud that you tried even though you were too busy drawing circles in the sand to notice where that softball was going. (We won one game because it was a forfeit . . . in two seasons).


Moms, only WE can stop how pulled and yanked we are. Only WE can say no to all the stuff that gets in the way of our children’s CHILDHOODS. We can lay down the law and say “go play with your toys.”  We can teach our kids what they need to know. We can put our phones down and clear our busy calendars and BE with our kids. And it starts with me.

How will you say NO to the madness of 2014?


  1. I was that cool middle schooler with a pager. What was the point of a pager unless you were a physician?! But I LOVE the point about no phones during date night. A reminder I certainly need!

  2. This is a great post, Anna!

    When my parents built the house I grew up in, my dad planted trees in the shape of a baseball diamond so we’d have ready made bases. (We weren’t born yet!) I wish so much for my kids to have those kinds of memories of the neighborhood showing up in the front yard for kickball until dark.

    And haha–I carried a pager as recently as 2013. Yay, information technology.

  3. I couldn’t agree more! I am actually opening a natural learning preschool called Inspirations Preschool this summer where kids can be kids. We are going to play outside, get dirty, use our imaginations and learn along the way. My curriculum is based off of a combination of Reggio Emilia and Montessori principles. After all, the true work of children is play! I will be offering a special summer introduction to my preschool this July – and you can save $80. You can read more about it at inspirefwtx.weebly.com.

  4. I have a 3 month old daughter and have lived in this area for 7+ years. I grew up in the country and had the same kind of childhood experiences you are talking about. I want my daughter to grow up with some memories like that. Of course times changed and it is a little harder to have the same experiences here in the city that I had growing up. However, it is one of my goals in life to teach my daughter to love the world around her. I want her to learn to play outside and appreciate the “non-electronic” side of life.

    • I grew up in 2 big cities (Memphis and Fort Worth)…so I rarely experienced country life…except when I visited my grandparents. So, I know it can be done in a city…it’s just how?? I will say, we moved to small town Iowa when I was 16 and every year I go back for the state fair. Country kids have SUCH amazing work ethic. I think part of it has to do with the fact that they are given real responsibility as young kids. So, while our city kids aren’t going to be milking cows or anything like that…they can still be taught work ethic. In a city, it isn’t the norm, but it’s definitely my goal to attempt it! (Also-we made the mistake with our first born of introducing tech WAY too soon. We’ve taken most of it away now, but it was hard. Our little one sits and reads much better).


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