My first daughter Rebekah has looked up to her big brother John since the day she was born. In fact, he is the one who named her “Bekah” after he couldn’t say her full name at the hospital. John was her first friend, her first fight, and her first fun! She’s never known life apart from him and oh does she love him fiercely.
A few months ago, John showed her the ropes in his school as Rebekah entered the halls of Kindergarten. I never imagined how fast their early years would fly by – no matter how much I complained in the exhaustion of sleepless nights, tantrums, meltdowns, the terrible two’s and three’s, and more.
In a day and age where our plates are filled to the max and we can barely blink before the next month is here, how do we embrace the time with our children as they reach each new developmental stage? How do we savor the gift of being present and fully there with them? I haven’t figured it all out, but I’ve learned a few valuable lessons that have been helpful for me practically over the years.
1.) Prioritize face-to-face time. I can often tell when my kids are itching to have “Momma’s eyes on me.” With four running crazy around our house, it’s easy to forget the importance of one on one time with each child. Getting on the floor with them, playing house, enjoying backyard play, sitting at the table to do a craft or school work have been great ways to be near each other and enjoy each other’s company. Looking into their eyes, seeing what might be stirring in their souls, and watching their expressions is all a part of getting to know them better.
Face-to-face time has to be intentional as there are many things competing for our time – including screen time! I never regret that time and the preciousness of being fully present.
2.) Document your days. “Mom, everything you see is a memory.” My-seven-year-old son told me a few months ago while he played on the swing set. What a deep thought for such a young boy, but he was right. What we see eventually becomes a memory in the past. What better way to capture what we can right now through photos, writing, journaling, taking videos, and more. Thankfully, Facebook, Instagram and other social media forms make it easy to hold on to the significant milestones we don’t want to lose.
Documenting your days is a perfect way to reflect and remember the past and to be grateful for all the gifts God’s given you. It will help your children know what life was like when they were young and to remember the good times in your family.
3.) Seek to understand real needs. Fits, outbursts of anger, sadness, anger, tears, lashing out and more are all outward signs of an inward struggle. Perhaps, your child’s need at the moment is sleep, food, a nap, or some quiet time. Maybe they just need your touch. Or they’re struggling with jealousy, selfishness, and wanting a toy they can’t have. Seek to draw out the real issue underneath and help them work through it. Having a practical solution can help your sanity and calm the frustration on both ends. Thus, helping both of you better enjoy your time together.
4.) Cling to Grace. Some days are just difficult and you’re ready for the next day to come already. That’s okay! One of my mentors used to say that for one good day, there are often three bad days. Give yourself grace in the trenches of motherhood. Know that you’re not alone and other moms struggle in this season too. Rest in God’s strength and power to help you as you raise your children the best you know how.
Life, as you know it now, won’t look the same in five years. Embrace it as a gift because that’s exactly what the present is.