Teaching Toddlers the Value of Each Day
My four year old son Kellus loves getting surprises. In fact, he loves them so much that anytime he thinks he’s done something good, he thinks he deserves one. For example: If I tell Kellus to eat all of his vegetables, he’ll ask, “I eat all my vegetables…. and…?” then gives me this giant pause, as if I’m supposed to respond by saying “…and, you can get some cookies.” His eyebrows are raised, smile is wide and I could just see those wheels churning in his mind as he waits with anticipation for my response. I laugh every single time.
He especially does this at bed time. He’ll come trotting in our bedroom and say, “Mommy, go to sleep, wake up.. and..??”, while holding that long pause again. Same big eyes and stretched smile. I’d laugh again and tell him to march back to his bed. Well, this recently had me thinking. Four year olds don’t forget anything and it takes hardly anything to generate a habit with them. And so, I bow my head and take the blame.
Usually the day before a “big event” (i.e., trip to some place special, exciting new arts and craft project) I whisper in his ear, “God willing, go to sleep, wake up and then we’ll make bunny rabbit puppets tomorrow.” I admit, I first did this as a tactic to get him to bed. I had no idea it would turn into great anticipation for a special surprise every day!
So, I kept asking God, how can I teach Kellus the value of a new day even if we aren’t doing anything surprising? Then, I believe the Lord showed me how I can be the same way at times.
I have always been a very spontaneous person in life. When I was single and living on my own, I loved to do adventurous things sporadically– never routinely. One day I’d have a sudden urge to go hiking. The next day, it was dancing. I loved (still love) adventure. However, after I got married and had children, that type of adventure came very infrequently. These days, I get excited about “window shopping” just to get some air. However, when there is something planned, as most people do, I get really excited about it the night before–so much so that I can feel myself as giddy as Kellus gets right before he sleeps.
Even though there is nothing wrong with having great anticipation for great events, God is teaching me a few cool things from this. (I love it when he does this through my children.)
1. Each day is a blessing. I first have to remember that! As a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t get out and experience “adventure” as much as I used to, I have to remember that right where I am is a blessing. My children are a blessing and it is a wonderful blessing to be able to stay home with them.
2. Make each day count. I may not have the ability of doing big–which most times means costly–things, however every day we open our eyes is a blessing from the Lord. Psalm 118:24 says “This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This means that regardless of how routine the days can get, we should rejoice that God graced us with it.
3. Break the routine, sometimes. Schedules and routines aren’t bad. However, I seem to cringe at the thought of not having at least one thing go differently through the day. So, I try to do something unique for the kids as often as possible. This can be anything from a new (dollar store) activity book or a random trip to Pet Smart to look at the fish and hamsters. My children love that.
Every day that the Lord opens our eyes is just cause for us to rejoice. It’s a new beginning, a new try, and new opportunity to make each day a better day than yesterday. My prayer is for God to continue to teach me how to show my children to love and appreciate the smallest things in life. Although it is great to have anticipation for fun and exciting things, it’s even better to just appreciate God for his grace and thank him for whatever he has for us–one day at a time.