It was bath-time….the end of the day…I was tired, he was dirty…nothing special. And yet, in that very mundane, everyday chore, my son and I were able to connect, and have a fun and educational play-time. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t found on Pinterest. It wasn’t pre-planned, and it had no accompanying worksheets or crafts. It was just a mom and her boy, taking advantage of a teachable moment. Simple.

I think it is so easy to get caught up in the nonsense that in order for it to “count”, we have to do something huge, massively creative, or uber-elaborate. We can’t just play with blocks, draw pictures, or play hide and seek…those are for the “regular” moms…the “lesser” moms…No, we have to go over and above each and every time. (If we don’t, we’re failing right?) Sound familiar? I’ll bet that I’m not the only mom that has had ridiculous expectations and mixed-up beliefs about what a “good mom” looks like.

I have been in the bad place…the place where I feel massive pressure to over-perform and come up with thematic wonderment for my kids….Earlier this summer, I painstakingly sat and wrote out plans for thematic play-days, and have since spent every waking hour feeling guilty that we haven’t done them. Daily, I’ll see other bloggers come out with posts with titles such as, “75 Fantastic Science Projects”, and immediately feel like a failure for A)not blogging things like that, and B)for not really wanting to sit and do 75 science experiments with my kids….Ever feel that way? Have you let the guilt monster eat you from the inside out because you don’t have the desire, time, energy, etc to DO all those crazy-elaborate things?

Today, I’m giving you permission to tell the guilt monster (and his awful little bag of messed up expectations) to take a hike. You have my permission to be SIMPLE. I’m going to let you in on a little secret…Your kids don’t need fancy (and sometimes I think being over-the-top all the time, can be a bad thing for kids). The activities you do with your kids don’t need to be “pinnable.” You don’t need 100 ideas. Every day doesn’t need to be filled with enchantment and planned activities. It’s okay to just be you, and to find joy, connection, and entertainment in the little things…the everyday things….the simple.

Look at bugs under a rock. Play with playdough. Draw. Dress a Barbie. Play tag. Teach them how to dribble a soccer ball. Run through the sprinkler. Laugh. Read. TALK. I think we often connect best with our children when the moment isn’t planned. I’ve found that sometimes when I’ve prepared for a big activity, and it doesn’t go as planned (because with kids, things never do), I’ll get let down and disappointed, get snippy, and the moment is lost. I may get something ready to do simply out of guilt (or out of feeling like I need to “compete” with certain bloggers) and resent the whole activity, because it isn’t something I actually WANT to do. I’m just like you. I’m tired. I long for moments alone. I like nap-time, and I don’t always want to spend my free-time prepping big projects (or writing out instructions for elaborate activities you all should do with your kids….when really, I don’t believe you need to!) We need to change our mind-set, be willing to not compare ourselves with the moms that are out there celebrating ladybugs 300 different ways, and be okay with taking advantage of quiet, everyday moments.

Here’s a key to some relief….just let those things go. I’m all for planning out special things for my kids ONCE IN AWHILE. I think when it stays an occasional occurrence, the kids learn to appreciate those things, I experience less stress from not having to do it all the time, and we treat those days as truly something special. Everyday doesn’t have to be “Disneyland.” It shouldn’t be. Don’t feel like you have to make each day a Pinterest day, or that you are less of a mom for not using cupcake wrappers, toilet rolls, or pipe cleaners in 86 different ways. It’s silly. Just play. Just read. Just talk. It’s okay to be simple. (I encourage it.)

Don’t plan. Don’t pin. Don’t feel the pressure. Play with what you have. Teach your children to be content by making the most of the everyday. (And, I’ve got to say, the everyday can be pretty darn great!) I’ll happily take imagination and spontaneous pretend play over big, elaborate (stressful), activities (that I don’t necessarily have the time or energy to create/follow through with.) So today, I whole-heartedly give you my permission to fore-go the elaborate, the planned, and the “I’m going to out-do so and so” feelings, and JUST BE SIMPLE. (Because really, simple is all you need.)