What do Children Need for a Happy Childhood?


Sometimes my children’s words warm my heart.

“Don’t you just love being us?” asked my daughter Imogen, turning to me with a huge smile.
I was surprised. Why did she suddenly feel like a big ball of happiness*? It wasn’t as if we were doing anything special right at that moment.

“You don’t wish you belonged to another family?” I asked.

“No! We have a good life. I’ve been writing. We have our singing lessons later. But before that, we’re going to the library!”

A good life? This made me think: “Will you look back on your childhood and think it was happy?”
“Oh yes!”

“What will you remember the most?”

Imogen thought for a moment and then said, “Doing things together. We’re always spending time together.”

There is so much I want to give my children. I want them to have a life full of memorable experiences but.. 

We never seem to go anywhere or do anything very interesting. We’ve only ever been on a family holiday a handful of times. We’ve never been overseas. We haven’t even been out of the state (unless you count going to the ACT, which is like a state within our state). On a day-to-day basis, we never go anywhere more exciting than the library. We rarely meet up with friends. Actually we all have more friends online than in real life. The last time we saw another homeschooling family was rather a long time ago.

To be honest, I haven’t enough time or money, energy or even inclination to keep up with a busy and interesting lifestyle. And I wonder if I am failing my children.

“Doing things together. We’re always spending time together.”

Maybe it’s not what we do or where we go or who we meet that’s important. Perhaps the important word is ‘together’.

We cook, we eat, we read, we write, we watch movies, we run, we talk, we laugh, we cry, we hug, we pray, we sing, we go to the library together. All simple things but done together with those we love.

Imogen’s words warm my heart: “Doing things together. We’re always spending time together.”

Perhaps children don’t need much more than that for a memorable childhood.

What do you think?


* “… a big ball of happiness…” Yesterday Sophie said, “Do you ever feel like one big ball of happiness for no apparent reason?”

“Yes!”

Do you?


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Comments

  1. Reply

    Yes, I do! One of the greatest joys in my own childhood was that my mother really enjoyed her time with us – and she told us so. We were happy together.

    That's something I hope to pass on to my children – I really enjoy being with them. I think there is something about knowing that you make others happy that makes you feel loveable.

    1. Reply

      Wendy,

      You said, "…my mother really enjoyed her time with us – and she told us so." Oh yes! Every evening I tell my children I really enjoyed spending the day with them. They smile, and I'm sure they like hearing that. It makes them feel loveable? I think you are quite right there!

      Your mother sounds wonderful. I'd like to be like her too!

    2. Reply

      Ooh! I like what you and Wendy are saying here very much! I enjoy being at home with my children and I often think it…now it's time to say it. I think I'll start ending my days the way you do. If I can get myself in the habit of saying, "good morning my blessing!" Then I'm sure I can get in the habit every evening that I enjoyed our time together.

    3. Reply

      Elizabeth,

      I am beginning to think it's the little things that are important. Telling our children we love them and enjoy them, and taking the time to hug frequently… these little things are the ones that make a difference. And they're not difficult to do, are they? Just like you said, it needs to become a habit. I am enjoying this conversation. Thank you!

  2. Reply

    Yes! I love this 🙂 I cringe when I think of all the time I've spent with the children that I could have spent in a job or at university or anywhere else that would lead me directly away from them. Because of my husband's working hours (often afternoons and nights) the children would rarely see him if we did not have this unique opportunity to home educate. It's just wonderful 🙂

    P.S. I'm surprised you say you rarely meet up with friends, you are such a friendly person!

    1. Reply

      Kelly,

      I just can't imagine not being with my children every day. When I first left work, just before Felicity was born, I told everyone I was taking leave for 6 months. I never went back. We have had times when we've had little money but I've never considered leaving the kids to go to work. I really like your idea of starting a home business and working at home.

      A unique opportunity to home educate? Aren't we so very fortunate?

      Kelly, when our children were a bit younger we used to see friends all the time. We had a regular picnic day one Sunday a month, and other get-togethers. Then everyone's children grew and their commitments increased, and no one seemed to have as much time to socialise. I like seeing friends and would love having a friend who lived close by. Instead I have lots of wonderful friends online whom I chat with every day! I think I'd be lonely if it wasn't for the Internet, though my girls are very good company. I know some people don't like Facebook and online relationships but I value the friends I have because of the Internet.

  3. Reply

    When I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I went to child care classes. The thing stressed was that the most important gift parents can give their children is to ENJOY them. Obviously you get an A plus plus plus :)!

    1. Reply

      Nancy,

      Maybe sometimes we can fall into the trap of worrying about our children so much, we fail to enjoy them. I was talking about this the other day with a friend. Parenting can be stressful because we want to do the best job we can, and maybe joy disappears when we concentrate on the concerns and problems. You and Wendy are so right. We need to enjoy our children and tell them they make us happy. I'm sitting here imagining someone telling we how much they love spending time with me. You are right: I'm feeling so good! That is indeed a gift.

      I remember child care classes too. I feel so old thinking back to those days!

  4. Reply

    I have been seeing quite a few posts lately about Being more like Mary in a Martha world. I think this post is a good example of a family living like Mary…the focus and your happiness is based on your family relationship. I've been feeling bad about how little we get together with other homeschool families…like maybe I'm depriving my children. It just seems though that too many of these activities outside the home sacrifice family time and I'm just not sure it's worth it. I do think that living on a teachers salary also helps to eliminate the hurry in my life…we simply can't afford to be in too many activities. My 11 year old daughter isn't begging to go out… She's very content to spend her days reading, drawing, writing, crafting and baking. Maybe I should stop worrying about it and just rejoice in the fact that my personality AND finances make it more conducive to living a Mary lifestyle….the lifestyle that seems so elusive many Americans. Sorry if this strays from your original thoughts but your post is helping me sort through all these current thoughts.

    1. Reply

      Elizabeth,

      My older children had lots of homeschooling friends and went to camps and get-togethers. I'm a bit sad things are different for my younger girls, but not sad enough to change things! We live a quieter life now, based around home, and I do think that has great advantages. We have more time for our own activities, and I've really seen our own relationships grow stronger.

      My husband is a third year teacher after changing careers a few years ago. He is starting at the bottom of the teacher pay scale, which has meant a loss of salary compared to his old job. We don't mind that money sacrifice at all because Andy is happier teaching than he was being a sales and marketing manager. We can only afford a few outside activities. Imogen and Charlotte have singing and piano lessons. Their piano teacher teaches Sophie for free, and Imogen teaches Gemma-Rose! Imogen, Andy and Callum belong to a local choir and they practice very week, and perform every now and then. They and Charlotte belong to the church choir too. All these musical extras are free. The girls swim on Saturday mornings and that's about all the activities they do. Of course we run and do heaps of simple stuff together. And I am sure my children are very happy!

      Earlier this year we paid for Imogen to go to a couple of Catholic youth retreats so she could spend time with other young people. She enjoyed these. We asked Charlotte if she wanted to go too but she said she is too much of a home body at the moment and didn't want to go. Maybe in the future she will change her mind and want to go off to a retreat and mix with lots of other people her age. But there's time enough for all that. Imogen is a very confident and outgoing person, and copes well when she does do things away from the family. I don't think she has been disadvantaged at all by leading a quiet home life. I'm sure Charlotte will be the same. It's not as if the girls never see anyone. They mix all the time with local musicians and people of our parish, just not homeschoolers and people of their own age.

      I like how posts lead from one thought to another! I feel we're having a proper conversation. I've been mulling over your thoughts and the other comments too. I like doing that. Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Reply

    Thank you so much for this! I've been worrying lately that my kids don't have enough friends since we moved. I keep thinking we need to get involved in more local activities, but it stresses me to think of adding more in! It's a comfort to know that kids don't need a myriad of activities to be happy. I've tried to limit us for my sanity, but it's wonderful to have affirmation that it's okay for my kids, too.

    1. Reply

      Angela,

      It's hard to know what to do sometimes, isn't it? I've also worried about friends and activities. Should we be doing more? But I do think my kids are happy with the way things are. Perhaps a strong family unit is much more important than lots of friends and outside connections. It's been 2 1/2 years since I wrote this post. Time passes quickly! Looking at the photo, I can see how much my girls have grown. We are all still doing simple things together and there is so much joy in that. Life feels right so perhaps it's okay to listen to our hearts and not outside expectations. Maybe in the future circumstances will change or opportunites will arise that we will want to take advantage of. We could then reassess and add more into our lives. But for now, we're happy. I hope you are too!

      Thank you so much for stopping by!

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