This is the time of year for Happy. Happy New Year! Wishing you a…happy…new…year. Happy.
I spend time thinking about happy. Being happy. My own happiness and that of my children. Happiness. Because without it – there really is not much else. Without a sense of peace and calm and happy, no matter what one has done or the size of a bank account, or the accomplishments of a career – it all amounts to really nothing. Happiness. That is the goal.
And yet, it is easy to forget. We can get caught up in preparations and planning – whether for social reasons or achievement. How many of us deliberately contemplate play dates or registrations or Hayden or soccer or dance or math – just to be sure we are creating and cultivating of a child that is prepared for the next level. Of friendship. Of school. Of athletics. Of success.
I know. I was there. Too.
But it leaves out an important element. Their happiness. And that is the one element that is most vital to their life and their well-being.
When children are young – they only know what you create for them. Their world is all yours to control. You control their happy. What they do; where they go; what they eat; who they see. It is all on you. The decisions you make. The priorities you set.
And so this is what I know now – as a parent of three very large teenagers and a twenty year old. Happiness is the most important goal of all. Not how early they read or how well they can solve math problems or how complex the lego model is that they just created or which Harry Potter book they just finished. It really is so simple. Prioritize happy above all else. It really does not matter if they are going to a great college if they are unhappy. And a parent can only be as happy as their most unhappy child. Take my word for it; they will all get there – just make sure you care more about their happy than you do about anything else.
Prioritizing happy does not mean giving them everything they want; it does not mean rewards; it does not mean playdates; it does not mean wish fulfillment; it does not mean ‘yes’ to everything they ask for or of you.
Prioritizing happy means: a consistent routine and home life; it means unconditional love; it means predictability; it means honesty; it means time and space within boundaries; it means naps in the middle of the day; it means slowing down and it means family dinners. It means playing or doing for fun and not because you think you ought to; it means playdates that are natural and like breathing; not something that needs to be scheduled or forced or created just so you feel like you are tending to their yet to be developed social needs.
Happy New Year. To you. And while you are thinking so much about your child’s happiness. Please, most of all – remember this: your happiness is just as important. Without your happiness and peace, nothing else can really happen. Your children know you better than you think and most of all, they feel you. All the time. They know your happy and they know your sad. And it all flows from there. So tend to yourself. Whatever that means for you. I speak from experience. If you neglect to take care of yourself, it will catch up with you.
“What I like doing best is Nothing.”
“How do you do Nothing,” asked Pooh after he had wondered for a long time.
“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘What are you going to do, Christopher Robin?’ and you say, ‘Oh, Nothing,’ and then you go and do it.
It means just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.”
“Oh!” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh