"Once the kids are older..."
"When we get our next house..."
"After the next school year..."
"Sometime down the road..."
Often times I catch myself planning for a future that, while I obviously pray will happen, is not guaranteed. We have so many ideas of places to visit and things to do as a couple and as a family but all seem like better ideas "for later" rather than now. It's not the most convenient time to visit Disney or even take a long road trip. Even something as simple as visiting the local pool seems like such a daunting task with five relatively small kids.
So how do we make sure we are enjoying this stage of life? How do we stay present in the present and not long for the future?
- Family wrestling matches. The bigger kids have learned to take turns and reign in the crazy (although they need to be reminded on occasion) and the little kids think it's just hilarious to climb on Mommy and Daddy. But mostly Daddy. I tend to watch and keep on eye on the level of crazy and intervene when necessary.
- Visiting the toy store. Because Micah and I are avid toy collectors (LEGO and Transformers) the toy store is one of our favorite places to visit. We really like wandering the aisles to browse for good deals, find out what is in stock, and see if there is anything new from the previous visit.
Our kids have joined us since they were born so it's not a "new" place to them but it's still incredibly exciting. They've always understood we are there to look and not buy (unless they have Christmas or birthday money saved in their envelope) so there are rarely tears when we all leave empty handed. It's a great way for them to explore and gives us great ideas for future gifts.
- Friday Night Pizza & Movie Night. I think this started not long after Parker was born. At this point I still didn't have a working KitchenAid Mixer and I was totally inept at making dough without it so we would buy frozen bread dough and let it rise on the counter all day. For dinner we would make calzones and watch a movie.
This evolved over several years into making actual homemade pizza (once I conquered my fear of yeast dough) with all sorts of various toppings. The hardest part is remembering whose turn it is to pick but usually we can find something we can agree on. The kids love the treat of eating in front of the tv and we love pizza so it's a win-win.
- Semi-local theme park visit. We live in close enough proximity to an indoor theme park that we try to make an annual visit. It's not close enough for a day trip but we have family nearby so we make it part of a longer stay and it's always a hit. Last year the little boys were obviously too little but the three big kids all spent a decent amount of time on rides with the two of us taking turns going with them. This summer we hope to be able to take the little ones on a few kiddie rides as well.
The best part about visiting this park is that we can go for just a couple hours in the morning and not feel like we wasted an entrance fee because we need to go home for naps since it's all points based. Watching their faces light up with excitement as a ride begins and the smile that gets plastered across their face as it continues is such a thrill.
So while there are dozens of things that we look forward to doing with our kids as they grow older we are really enjoying finding fun in these early years that works for all of us. So many simple experiences and games bring such happiness that I'm not sure we ever really need to take those big trips I dream about.
How are you finding joy in the stage of life you are currently in instead of looking forward?