Let Them be Little: Especially at the Holidays


My eleven-year-old still sleeps with his teddy bear. When I tuck him and his teddy bear in at night, these are moments that I live for. When my nine-year-old puts his grimy little hand in mine when we’re taking a walk, I have to make a conscious effort to not jump for joy. When I go to wake my six-year-old up for kindergarten and he’s sleeping with his bum in the air just like he did as an infant, I pause and soak in these moments of boyhood when a lot of our days are spent realizing how quickly they are growing.  I say, let them be little. 

These are the moments I need to return to the rest of the day when they are driving me crazy. The reminder I need to let them be little. To let them be little boys. To play until I can smell them, and believe me, they will start to smell!

There are many times that we ask our children to act older than they are. To take on responsibilities that are above them. As military kids, our children often have to face challenges their peers don’t. We ask them to be resilient. Ugh! That word.

I say, let them be little.

We ask a lot of our military children. To sit silently during a change of command ceremony, to move frequently, and to say goodbye to their friends, schools, sports teams, and homes. We ask them to purge their rooms and pack their toys into cardboard boxes. Do we have time to make a box fort instead? 

I say, let them be little.

As the holidays approach, we put a lot of expectations on our children. I know I do. I vividly remember my husband looking at me across the kitchen last year as I was getting a little snippy at the boys while we were making sugar cookies for Santa. Okay, okay…this is about the experience, not how the cookies turn out.  Everyone leaves B-52 cookies for Santa, right? 

I want baking cookies to go a certain way, I want presents opened in a calm manner one at a time. Someone always ends up crying on Christmas morning. Do we make our children go to every event possible in December because “they’ll have fun?” Let them help plan the extras. You may be surprised by which events they want to attend, and which events they aren’t into.

If they want to open one present and then play with it for an hour-let them.

If the sugar cookies have a pound of sprinkles on them and flour is all over the kitchen-let it be.

If they don’t want to wear a fancy outfit- let them be comfy.

If they want to snuggle up and watch Christmas movies with you-enjoy them.

I say, let them be little.

Let’s give our kids the opportunity to be little. To wonder, to dream, to play. They have the rest of their lives to be adults.

I say, let them be little.

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Ellen Kehs
Ellen Kehs was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois where she met and later married her high school sweetheart, Mason. Together they’ve traveled the world, most recently touching down in Florida in June 2022. She’s a mom to three little boys, Theodore (eleven), Woodrow (nine) and Maximus (six). Life is never boring with her boys! Ellen loves being a military spouse and she embodies the “bloom where you are planted” mentality. In addition to soaking up whatever current city she’s living in, she is passionate about reading and getting books in the hands of children, as well as helping other mamas connect with each other. She has a bachelor’s degree in secondary English education, a master’s degree in adolescent literacy and technology, and she teaches full-time online, in addition to being a stay-at-home mom. Her hobbies include, exploring, reading, swimming, napping, snapping pictures, playing games, baking, and loving on the little men in her life.