When I had a newborn and a 3-year-old (and a teenager) living under my roof, I remember cackling with laughter any time someone would stop me while I was out to tell me to “treasure every moment.” I knew these people, mostly older women who were likely grandmothers, or hoping to be, meant well. I knew they weren’t trying to upset me or create some kind of negative response. But I found myself ranting and raving over this tendency to tell new moms to enjoy what they had, because it would be gone before they knew it.
I’m kind of beginning to see what they meant, now.
Not exactly. I mean, I have a threenager who swings back and forth between a ragey, violent drunk when he doesn’t get his way, to an overly emotional, paranoid friend who always thinks you’re mad at them. I have a first grader who has been slower to adjust to the new social echelons of the primary grades, and sometimes acts out because of it. Also, she’s stubborn. And a teenage girl with whom I’ve always tried to carefully negotiate step-parenthood.
I do find myself missing some of those sweet times before age three, when little kids are cute and still think you are the center of their universe. Not all the time, mind you. The newfound independence of both younger children can be really useful. But there’s nothing like children growing up to make you aware of your own mortality, and how quickly life is passing.
Here are some tips to help you slow things down, if not literally, then perceptually:
Nothing will make time pass faster than you not paying attention to your kids at all. I’m hardly judging anyone, here; I am as guilty as anyone else at passing the time by doing pointless things on my phone. Putting it down and engaging in activities with your kids will help you to live more in the moment and create memories that will last much longer than whatever you just read on social media.
You don’t need to plan things that cost money – take a family trip to the waterfront and skip stones together, or teach your kids how to skip stones. Bring your kids to the city when there’s a Doors Open event happening and explore together. Check out a smaller museum you’ve never been to.
I know. For my family, this is nearly an impossible task. My kids have never been good at sitting down for a whole meal, but when we do, on the rare occasion, it can be really nice to talk and joke over a meal. It’s one of the times I cherish with my teen stepdaughter, actually.
I guarantee that time will slow down to a crawl, trying to pass the time while camping with kids. Just kidding. I won’t say that camping with younger kids is the easiest thing, but every single time I’ve done it, which is eight or nine times now, we have come up feeling great and with wonderful memories that far outweigh any challenges we may have faced.
You may be one of those moms who is currently in the thick of it, and if that’s so, I wouldn’t try to change your feelings for a single moment. What you go through in those early months (and years) is tough as hell, make no mistake. But if you’re beginning to feel like time is speeding out of control, and your kids were babies the last time you blinked, these tips are a good way to step into the moment and stay on the ride. Together.