When I got my son dressed this morning, I chose the cutest jeans to go with a striped long sleeved onesie. Paired it with some cute baby Sperry’s. Hair on point. I was super happy with the cute outfit and how put together he looked. Mom point for me, right? And then breakfast happened. Egg and cheese covered hands somehow continuously found their way to the golden blonde curls. I had to suppress my natural instinct to yell, “NO! KEEP YOUR HANDS OUT OF YOUR HAIR!”
After a day of work, we went outside to hang out with Dad while he grilled for dinner. The kiddo loves outside… which means he loves dirt. There he was in his cute little jeans, sitting on the ground and digging his little fingers into the dirt. Dirty hands, dirty face, dirty bottom. Again, I had to suppress my natural instinct to grab him out of the dirt and keep him on the “clean” walkway.
Hello, my name is Amanda and I struggle with being a helicopter mom. (I’m sure I’m not the only one.) I want to make sure he’s safe, happy, and not ruining my furniture. But finding that line between keeping him safe and keeping him from having experiences is proving to be a little tougher.
Things I need to remember in my helicopter moments….
- They’re only young once. Let them experience digging in dirt… even if a little ends up in the mouth. Yuck.
- Clothes can be washed. And if they get stained? Oh well. That’s a good reason to buy used clothes for kids anyways.
- Kids can be washed. Getting syrup in hair or dirt under fingernails isn’t the end of the world.
- Kids learn through experiences. If I’m constantly hovering, correcting, or “protecting”, what does that teach my kiddo? It’s ok for kids to explore and maybe get a bruise… or two.
I’m not saying to let your kid jump off of play houses in the back yard (that’s definitely how my husband broke an arm as a kid) or to wander around without any adult supervision. I’m saying that it’s ok to supervise, but do it from a distance. Allow kids space to learn and explore. Allow them to fall down. To get messy. Grass stains are ok and scrapes heal over time.
I think of the childhood I had. When I was young, I was always outside. My friends and I played on this thing we called “The Fort”, which was literally a pile of dirt in the woods with holes we dug for seating. We tried to make honeysuckle and blackberry juice (which was much harder than we anticipated). I climbed trees and fences. I made mud pies and splashed in puddles (without fear of ringworms). I would pretend a leaf was a makeshift bandage for silly cuts because my mom would have never given me a bandaid. I know things are different now than they were 20 years ago, the world is a different place. Even so, I still want these experiences for my child. I want him to know what it’s like to have an imagination and explore on his own as much as possible. I want him to get out of the house, to climb trees and stare at the clouds.
I want to cultivate in him a spirit of adventure.
I want him to have a childhood free of my hovering worry and constant word of caution.
For that to happen, I have to keep my inner helicopter mom in check. I need to continue to remind myself that clothes can be cleaned and faces can be washed, but you cannot redo a childhood. There’s one shot to give them the chance to be kids. I hope I can make it count.