I have this habit, and I’m not sure where it came from. Ever since I stopped working full-time and starting staying home with my toddler, I got into the habit of reviewing all the fun things we did each day before putting him to bed. At first I’d make sure to stick to the highlights–things like an unexpected trip to the playground, or a special dessert for eating dinner nicely. But over time, it evolved into a rehash of every single thing that day that could be reasonably construed as fun.
Last night’s rundown went something like this: “First we had a great breakfast, and you got mango and strawberries. Then you got to go to school, and then we came home and had a lemon yogurt. Wasn’t it yummy? After your nap we read so many Thomas books, and then we built a tower, and played with your tractor, and even had time to draw on your easel before dinnertime…”
I mean, there are nights where I seriously go on and on. The thing is, my son really enjoys what I call our daily fun review, and I think it helps him ease into going to sleep. You’d think it would have the opposite effect, with him saying, “Hey, you’re right–that was fun, let’s do it again now.” Instead, it almost helps him put the day to rest knowing how much he did and accomplished. But more so than that, I think it helps me feel accomplished.
Back when I was working full-time, it wasn’t up to me to fill my son’s days with fun activities. The best I could do was pick him up on time from daycare, feed him a decent dinner, and spend 30 minutes or so reading and playing before commencing our nighttime routine. But now that I’m in charge of keeping him engaged and entertained all day long (minus the three hours of preschool, three days a week), in many ways the pressure’s on. And so when I do this daily fun review, I think a big part of it is trying to convince myself that I did OK–that I did give my son the fun, enjoyable day he deserved.
Perhaps there’s nothing glaringly wrong with what I’m doing, but I have some concerns. First, not every day can be loaded with fun. There are days when I have to tackle things like errands, paperwork, or–and this is a popular one in my household–massive twin baby poop explosions and subsequent emergency bathing sessions. And on those days, I can’t actively fill all the hours with fun.
Plus, there’s such a thing as sometimes being bored, or doing something out of sheer obligation. I’m talking homework, cleanup, and so forth. Granted, my toddler’s a bit young for academic assignments and heavy duty chores, but my point is that I want him to realize that fun is not always a given. That’s just an unrealistic expectation, and if I lead him to believe that our days will always be fun-filled, I might be setting him up for disappointment.
The other issue at play here is that I don’t think I’m giving my son enough credit. Part of doing this daily fun review is getting my son to appreciate the little things, but when I think about it, he probably already does. Sure, he loves trips to the park and visits to the ice cream store. But sometimes all it takes is a casual joke or a few extra minutes of block-stacking for him to come away feeling content with the way his day went.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that our daily fun review is mostly unnecessary. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Maybe it’s something I need more so than my son, and in that case, it never hurts to remind myself that when you’re trying to raise a happy toddler, all the little things really do add up.