Spring is on its way where we live and with the warmer sunshine-filled days comes the melting of snow. And we have a LOT of snow. What happens when giant banks of snow dissolve into water? Puddles. Around our neighbourhood they tend to resemble miniature lakes, where you’re liable to get wet up to your knees. Is there anything more satisfying to a child than coming across a giant puddle, and running through it with reckless abandon?
I took both kids out the other day for a walk and tried my hardest to keep them from the puddles. “Stop! You’ll get wet! Don’t jump – your coat isn’t waterproof!” I really don’t enjoy being Mommy Killjoy, but somehow it seems to come so naturally when I am faced with the potential of children who are covered in mud. On our way home from the walk I decided to allow them free reign in the water. Boy, were they thrilled. Forget gifts or vacations, if you want to see pure joy from young children, set them free amongst monster puddles. They spent the next fifteen minutes running through the long, deep puddles, dragging their feet and then stopping to jump as high and hard as they could.
While they were proceeding to absorb most of the water into their clothes, I tried to ask myself why I find it so difficult to let them have fun, even if it makes a mess. Most of the reason doesn’t have anything to do with them at all. It’s actually me who doesn’t want to have more work. I dread the arrival home and peeling soaked clothing off of sticky skin and adding another load of laundry to my ever-increasing pile. But what if I didn’t focus on the work it caused, but rather measured the activity by how much joy and satisfaction it brought at such a small cost (one load of laundry and perhaps a bubble bath).
I wonder how many of us not only hinder our children from fun, explorative activities because of the mess, but also ourselves. When was the last time you dove head-first into a pursuit regardless of the added work or mess it would cause? Sure, this can be literal, but it has more applications than that. Take a look at what things you really love to do. What if you didn’t think about the cost of them. Or the effort it would take of you, before, during and after the activity.
A friend calls for coffee but we turn it down because that would mean falling behind on household duties. The kids want to go the park but we stay home instead because of the work involved in getting them ready. We want to take a trip but decide against it because of the preparation and cost involved. I’m not saying we need to say “yes” to everything that comes our way, that would be foolish and short-sighted. But I know that I tend to have a problem with saying “no” more than “yes”.
How many experiences are we willing to miss because of the potential cost to us? In life we have many resources, and not all people have equal amounts of them, but time is one that has no discretion. Rich, poor, young and old, we all have equal amounts each day to spend. And isn’t spending them on joyful experiences a valuable investment?
I know that I want to enjoy my life and be known for taking chances and trying new opportunities. So next time my kids ask to jump in the puddles not only will I say “yes” but I may just join them!