When you think about it, it is often the small things or seemingly mundane activities that bring us the most joy. Our little family is no different. I’ve compiled a list of things that we like to do together. The first seven are things we loved to do in 2015, when I first drafted this post (and never published it). Items 8-11 are current day. Take some time to think about the small rituals or activities that you enjoy doing with your family, it is grounding.
1. Drink chai and eat cookies in the morning. In 2022, this is still a favorite for Noah and me. Although I’ve traded out chai for coffee and he has traded chai for chocolate milk. Now we have arguments over who makes it. He swears that I have some magic touch as a mother to know how to get the proportion of chocolate to milk just perfect. I suspect he is being lazy.
2. Build a fire in our backyard. In a fire pit of course. While this is still a favorite, we don’t do it that often because I am fire challenged. We stayed in a cabin with a sauna and no running water in the woods of northern Minnesota a couple of years ago, and whether or not we could bathe depended on my luck with starting a fire in the sauna each night. Let’s just say I will never serve time in prison for arson.
3. Cuddle in bed in the morning. This activity caused me to run late to work more than I’d like to admit. There was nothing like a 4- and 5-year old who woke up in a happy mood and wanted to hug and kiss you. They smelled so good at that age. I needed to take advantage of this time before their feet and breath and pits started to smell and they didn’t want to be anywhere near me, and especially not in my bed. Surprisingly in 2022, they still love to sleep with me. Except now they are huge and like to sleep sideways with their feet in my gut. Which has its upsides: the smelliest parts of them are farthest away as long as their feet are covered.
4. Walk to Walmart to buy popsicles and chocolate milk. I don’t always feel right admitting that I patronize Walmart. It is within walking distance of my house so it just makes sense most of the time for our crazy lifestyle. Or when we wanted to buy popsicles and chocolate milk while riding around the store in a wagon that we pulled over from home. These days, I still mostly frequent Walmart, but I do pickup instead from the mass shooting incident Walmart. I just don’t have the patience for crowds anymore and the Walmart near my house is the sketchiest I’ve ever seen it. It is the sketch magnet for the area. It says something when you choose the mass shooting Walmart over the neighborhood market Walmart.
5. Floss our teeth. We don’t really love doing this together, but I thought if I added it to the list, we might start believing that we do and floss more often. Nowadays, I floss my teeth regularly due to the generous amounts of guilt served to me by my dental hygienist. I need a hygienist at home to guilt my kids about tons of different things since it worked so well for me. Neelah brushes all the time and flosses once in awhile. Noah brushes less often than we’d like to acknowledge, and never flosses. I guess we didn’t manifest that activity even though I wrote it down.
6. Paint our nails. Everyone used to get in on this one. I had to buy shades of white, gray, blue, and black sparkly nail polish for my son. Some people I associated with at the time believed that if you painted a boy’s nails, this would automatically turn him into a girl. While I didn’t agree, I tried to be sensitive to their superstitions with “boy” colors. Now, in 2022, Noah refuses to wear nail polish on his fingers or toes, even though it is really in vogue for boys and men now.
7. Visit (and use) public bathrooms. This was an early obsession of Noah’s. I have heard this is not unusual though. The good news is that while he will use a public bathroom if he has to, he would prefer to use the facilities at home. So my exposure to public bathrooms and their inspiring decor has been limited in recent years. My bathroom at home remains half painted and lacking in thought-provoking art.
8. Watch YouTube, TikTok, and play video games for hours and hours. I need to get over the guilt of this. The kids do learn some interesting things: how to avoid creepy people, the oldest chess piece on record and how much it sold for, how to do fun crafts with Jolly Ranchers, etc. They also play games with each other and with friends, which is the socially acceptable way to connect these days. I can’t really say we do these things together because I am usually cleaning or working or telling them they need to get off their devices.
9. Go through the drive-through at McDonalds. This is a deeply-rooted tradition that goes back years, and Friday night is our typical night. I have watched the cost of meals slowly creep up as the kids get older and eat more. We have thrown away landfills full of happy meal toys. Sorry, environment. It’s McDonalds’ fault.
10. Netflix and chill. Apparently this means something different than it did a few years ago. We truly just stare at the screen and chill out. Noah’s favorite show is Grizzly and Lemmings, Neelah loves Supergirl, and I have seen Jungle Cruise at least 5 times in the past few months because I “like” Dwayne Johnson. Sometimes we can find a series that we all enjoy and is appropriate for their age. I also like to watch Bosch on Amazon Prime, but I have a friend who watches it with me and criticize every move the cops make as “not realistic.” Never watch cop shows with cops. They totally ruin them. You probably already knew this.
11. Talk about reproduction and puberty. Just kidding. Noah is the only one who enjoys this activity.
It’s interesting that I sat at the end of this post for quite awhile, staring at the screen and trying to figure out what else we liked to do together. I couldn’t come up with much else. I guess as kids head into their teenage years, the list grows smaller. I’ve heard that in most cases, kids come back around. We’ll circle back on this in another 7 years.