IMG_4380I’m going to be real for a second. The only thing that gets me through the work week is planning my next vacation. Yeah, I enjoy helping people and all that good stuff, but at the end of the day, I just want to be exploring new adventures with my three little girls. I feel important at work, I think it’s pretty cool that I get to call myself a “scientist” and I worked hard to get there. Even still, nothing will ever be as important as being “mommy”.

For the longest time, being busy defined me. I was a full time student, full time photographer, and made it through school with two babies. I often think about what I missed out on, but I know that many of the memories that we have now wouldn’t mean near as much without that struggle. I often thought of the time when I would be able to “buy them anything they asked for in the store”. Man, that was a silly thought. I’m thankful for it because it kept me motivated, but flash forward to now, my kids won’t care that I couldn’t buy them an impractical gift when they were two years old. They will care that I existed in their lives.

I hope that when my children look back at their childhood, they don’t remember me handing them a toy in an effort to distract them. I hope they don’t associate me with presents or “stuff”. I hope they look past all the clutter and remember the time we spent together because that’s really all that matters.

Blind Bags. I never thought that I would work all week to spend $3 on a toy I know my daughter will never look at again once she opens it. But, life is kinda like that, huh? You live for surprises, adventures, and what’s behind the next door. Maybe the reason kids enjoy watching other kids open these silly little bags is because they enjoy seeing the excitement of someone else. I’ll gladly work to spend $3 for that.

At some point that $3 toy becomes a $30 toy, and by the time it becomes a $300 toy, our excitement seems to fade. I never want to see that look in my child’s eye, when life isn’t near as exciting as it once was.

Thats why instead of more stuff, I want more vacations. I want more time together. There will never be enough time together. I’ll never wake up and feel like we spent too much time together. I’ll never stop wishing that I could keep them the age they are now, and watch them grow up at the same time. It doesn’t even make any sense how much I love them, but little in life does.

My oldest is 6, and we talk about her day, her friends, her teachers, and she often reminds me (in great detail) of every trip we have ever been on. She brings up the little things, like going to pick apples or a trip to the zoo. She rarely reminds me of the time in the store when I let her get a toy. Because that isn’t what’s important. Last Christmas she received a princess carriage, a swing set, and tons of other toys. She doesn’t remind me of all the little gifts she got. Neither one of us remember at this point, but she asks when we will ride in a princess carriage and look at Christmas lights again. She’s asked when we will pick out a tree and if she can help me decorate it. But the “stuff”, it doesn’t matter. It’s just clutter in her mind of memories.

Give your kids something that matters. Love them. Spend time with them. Don’t hand them “stuff” and expect them to find their true potential on their own. They are only little once. Soak up those baby snuggles, and big kid hugs. Listen when they tell you about their day. They will remember the time you spent together far longer than a distraction. Less Stuff, More Vacations.