“They grow up so fast!”
“Where did the time go?”
“It seems just yesterday he was in kindergarten, and now he’s getting ready to graduate in the spring.”
If you haven’t said any of these words before, you’ve probably at least heard them escape from the mouth of another mom or dad. It’s true time seems to be speeding up, and life is happening faster than ever, but could part of that be because we’re so busy being busy we didn't even notice the kids are now in high school?
It happens to the best of us. The good news is it's never too late to start making the most of the time you have left with your kids before their “coop-flying wings” are fully functional. If any of these signs have you saying, “That's ME,” adjust accordingly to begin making memories with your family rather than regrets.
1. You work. . . a lot. Has “Sorry, honey, I can’t go to your game tonight. I have to work” become the standard response in your home? While your motives to provide for your family are indeed noble, your actions may very well be teaching your kids money is more important to you than they are. There's no greater job than investing in the lives and the future of your children. Give yourself permission to clock out of work and start clocking in as a present parent at least once a week. Your kids will remember the time you took to be at their big game — or the time you didn't.
2. You volunteer. . . a lot. When a good thing becomes a god thing, it’s a bad thing. Again, spending time serving others is noble and needed, but when it takes precedence over quality time with your family you can miss out on a whole lot of childhood. By following the “family first” model of I Timothy 5:8, you'll not only be instilling in your children a healthy family dynamic, you'll be teaching by example the imperative life skill of balancing service within the home with meeting the needs of others beyond your own front door.
3. You're exhausted. Juggling life is overwhelming. Between work, family, school, sports, volunteering and everything else going on, there's rarely any downtime for your or your children. Exhaustion is without question a tool of distraction from what's truly important in life — God and relationships. When you're too worn out to spend any time with your family, your kids will be in college before you know it, and they'll be worn out from overextending themselves, as well. Even Jesus took time out to recharge and rejuvenate. Start now by creating time in your family's schedule for down time. You'll be surprised how much fun you can have together just by resting.
4. You eat on the run. . . a lot. Family dinners around the table are few and far between because you're always rushing from one activity to another. While eating in the car on the way to soccer practice can technically be “family time,” there's so much more you can be learning about your kids when you fix and eat your meals together at home. Doing this at least once a week will show your kids you're interested in them as opposed to the things they're doing.
5. You strive for perfectionism — part 1. Trying to “keep up with the Joneses” ensures you'll miss out on nearly all things good about your own children. Life is chaotic enough trying to keep up with our own families let alone having to deal with the Joneses next door. In order to get the most out of the time you have with them, keep your focus on the activities and interests of the kids under your own roof
6. You strive for perfection — part 2. Parents are conditioned to believe their kids must be without flaw so as to show the world how wonderful they are at being parents. “Honey, don’t put your hands on the walls, OK?” “Don’t play with those trucks like that, son. Trucks are designed to do x, y, z – not a, b, c.” The list goes on and on. Allowing your kids to be kids and express their creativity during play time will help you appreciate and foster their unique qualities, as well as lead you through the doors of awe and wonder to marvel at your own creation.
7. You learn. Thankfully, it's never too late for a parenting do-over. Start where you are now, and let your children know how much you love and honor them. Actions truly do speak louder than words, and shifting just one thing at a time will be enough to grab their attention, change their attitudes and reset the clock for all of you. No matter how much time has passed or how much of your kids’ lives you may have missed up until now, there is plenty of fun to be had and memories to be made with your kids. And the best part? It's these memories that will last for generations because love has the power to overcome any obstacle and love NEVER fails.