How to Give a 5-Year-Old the “Best Day of Their Life”

Being a parent is both the most rewarding and challenging role I have taken on to date.

Kids have this magical ability to get under your skin like no one else. Then 2 minutes later they do something that makes you so proud and all that frustration melts away. They remind you that you’re human. You can be crushing it in the workplace, come home to a screaming 3-year-old you can’t reason with and feel like a failure.

My mate sent me the above picture the other day, a note his son had written after he had been to play at our house

Quiet Church, Busy Boys

It all started when I was sitting at the back of the church trying to entertain/contain the boys. By no means were they being naughty, just young boys with lots of energy. A quiet church service is not the best combination with this energy, and I didn’t want to force them to be quiet, so we headed outside to burn off some steam.

After being outside for 10 minutes I realised the there was no point killing time just to make it to the end of the service, we might as well go home now. My mate had his hands full with his other kids so we offered for his five-year-old to come home with us.

We jumped on the longboards and headed for home, my mate’s boy standing on the front of my board. We didn’t do anything super exciting, at least that’s what I thought. Just another Sunday afternoon surviving as a parent.

  • we skateboarded home
  • they played lego for a bit
  • we cooked sausages for lunch, literally just sausages in bread
  • the boys set up instruments in the lounge and pretended to be a travelling band

I was doing little jobs around the house, keeping an eye on them to make sure our eldest, Jacob, was sharing his lego, instruments and transformers. All up he was only with us for an hour and a half before his mum stopped by to pick him up.

His View vs My View

For me it was just another Sunday afternoon, aiming to survive and get through the day without any major meltdowns. It can be very tiring being a parent and some days feel sooooo long. This was one of them, It was only midday and I was already counting down to the kids’ bedtime!

For him, it was an awesome afternoon, the best day ever apparently. I know that his parents have done heaps of cool stuff with him, so it’s more than likely a 5-year-old exaggeration. Even so, there was something that clicked with him that day. It was cool to hear, it made me smile and the day that little bit brighter.

It made me think

As a parent, there is an element of getting through the day in one piece. Round them up, eat lunch, clean up, repeat. As much as I love the boys, and wouldn’t change it for the world, it’s hard to not reminisce about pre-parenthood times. When you had more freedom and the days didn’t revolve around kids timetables, toileting and snacks. Times when you could just pick up and do whatever you want.

It doesn’t take much to make a child’s day. There are a number of times where I have squeezed in five or ten minutes to kick a ball, build lego, or ride a bike with the kids and they are stoked.

I get the feeling the thing they love the most is getting my undivided attention.

An old article with a few tweaks

After a recent road trip with the kids, I wrote “holiday memories that last a lifetime”, here is an excerpt from that post with a few additions.

The way you are experiencing an event and the way others (like your kids) are experiencing an event can be totally different. Stop and think about the perspective of the people you’re with. What are they thinking, feeling, and remembering?

Most of all, I am reminded that the time I have with my boys is short. This post on the Wait But Why blog puts time into simple pictures you can visualise. Specifically how much time he has left doing his favourite things. Right at the end, he talks about how much time he has left with his parents compared to how much he has already spent. As a parent of 2 young boys, I can’t help but think about this in reverse.

It also reminds me of the quote Geoff mentioned when I talked to him about spending time with family.

“The days are long, but the years are short.” —Gretchen Rubin

In conclusion

Maybe my friend’s son will still remember the “best day of his life” in years to come, maybe not. Either way, his note has put parenting back into perspective for me. It reminds me that I don’t need to be a perfect parent with unlimited time and capacity for the kids. Being a great parent doesn’t mean doing lots of bigs things, it’s quality over quantity.

If you have young ones in your life, (grandparents, aunts, uncles etc that’s you too) I would encourage you to not wait for the big moments to make memories.

Make the most of the little moments you have with them. From what I am told they grow up fast, it’s up to us to make little moments of quality time with them. Simple things like drawing a picture, building a fort, going for a walk, fishing at the wharf, reading a book, baking, letting them help you build or tinker, you get the idea 🙂

If you’re not a parent of young ones you can still pass on the memories you have. Think back to your childhood about a fond, yet simple memory. Past experiences with someone you love.

I would encourage you to share these random memories, it will bring both of you joy.