Doesn’t that seem like a long time? 18 years may seem like a life time, but when it comes to raising children, it is like a split second.
When you first have your child, you can’t think past all the diaper changes, spit up and sleepless nights. You can’t wait until they are sleeping though the night.
Fast forward to their first birthday. They may be walking or at least attempting to walk, Babbling is slowly becoming words. You can’t wait until they are running around and able to tell you what they want.
Now, your child is attending preschool. It is incredible the amount of things they learn! You are so proud of them, but you just can’t wait until they are in “big school”.
Elementary school has flown by! Your child is entering middle school. They change in ways you forgot about from your own childhood. You can’t wait until they are out of this phase!
High school years have begun and so have the teen years. They are starting to look toward their future, make plans and even start to drive and get a job. You can’t wait until they are grown and you don’t have to attend so many functions!
Now, they are packing up, moving out and building their own lives. Man, did those 18 years fly by.
If you are a new parent or soon to be parent, stop. Take it all in. Enjoy every little moment. Is it hard? Absolutely. I will never tell you that parenting is easy. Will it get easier? Sometimes, then it gets hard again, then easier, then a different kind of hard.
But it is worth it.
And it goes by faster that you expect.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to savor every moment. Those times you get aggravated with your child or frazzled, you will wish they were that little again to make you feel that way.
They are only little once. Don’t rush them to the next milestone. Let them be little and take their time. Every child develops at their own pace. Work with them, encourage them, enjoy them.
Don’t have unrealistic expectations on yourself as a parent or on your child. Children are not little adults. They only know what they are taught or allowed to do. When they get upset, act out or mess up, they are telling you they don’t have the skills they need.
Everything comes in time.
Parents of young children
It’s not too late to slow it down. Instead of letting your children spend so much screen time, make some fun family times. Create memories you want them to carry with them. Later in life, when they are building a life and a family, what traditions and memories do you want repeated?
When I was growing up, we didn’t really have family dinners, family game nights or special birthday rituals. I made sure that I did that for my kids. Now that they are older, they want to continue those traditions. If they think I am going to miss one (because I assume they’ve outgrown it) they remind me.
It isn’t too late to start these memories. Perhaps you have a special night that is always a family night, or every fall you go to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch. Perhaps each year you create a family word or phase. Throughout the year you could write good things that happen and put it in a jar to open on New Year’s Eve.
Parents of teens
Think it’s too late for you? Never.
Your teens might think you are being weird and might even give you a hard time about it, but make the times you have with them special. Take time to learn about what they are passionate about. Talk about their future and offer to help them research how to reach those goals.
Children aren’t going to remember what you bought them or how much money you spent on them. They will remember if you were available. If you put down your phone or stopped working. It will be more important if you made time to focus on them.
Yes, 18 years seems like forever when your kids are little or driving you crazy or making you question your own sanity. Here are the cold hard facts. When your child is born you get 18 years.
- 216 months
- 939 weeks
- 6574 days
- 157,784 hours
- 9,467,077 minutes.
Those 18 years don’t seem so long now, do they? You get 18 summers to spend together, 18 Christmases as a child, 18 birthdays. Sure, they will always be your child and you will still have these things together. But, it isn’t the same as when they are little, in your home and still “a child”.
Take some time and reflect on what is really important. What things do you want your child to take away from their childhood? What lasting impressions do you want to help shape their futures?
Time flies. Get started now!