The biggest piece of advice I got when people heard I was gonna be a dad for the first time: “Enjoy every minute; it goes by so fast.”
As a parent of three young children, I still hear the same chorus over and over again, from grandparents, empty nesters, and parents of teenagers. It’s no doubt a cliché, but that doesn’t make it untrue.
Indeed, the days are long but the years are short.
What strikes me is not only how universal the advice is, but how hearing it a million times still can’t prepare you for how fast it really does go. (How is Lucy almost four feet tall?!?) You can acknowledge it, expect it, and internalize it with every cell of your being, but no matter how much you prepare or anticipate, time still goes faster than you ever expected. Mindful, well-intentioned souls go into parenthood determined to relish every moment and come out the other end bewildered at how fast it all went.
Time marches on, and try as we might, there is nothing at all we can do to slow it down. The good stuff always goes faster than we’d like.
But are there specific things we CAN do to ensure that at least we won’t have any regrets over making the most of the time we had?
YES! Here’s how:
Intentional Memory Making. You gotta schedule it.
We schedule dentist appointments, oil changes, soccer games, conference calls, board meetings, and date nights. Why not add memory making to the list of to-dos? We all know that if something doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done.
And don’t wait ’till the work’s finished. (Or the dishes.) The work will always be there. Don’t assume your Hallmark moment memories will automagically find their way into the spaces between meetings, car pools, and all the other things that lay claim to your calendar. They won’t.
In addition, make a point to minimize distractions during these family times. For example, institute a “no smartphones after six o’clock” policy. Or a tech-free weekend. Because even though you schedule memory making time, the outside world will still try and keep you from being fully present, and the easiest way to do so is through our technology.
Consider two scenarios:
“I can’t believe my kids are all grown up. It went by so fast. I really wish I woulda…“
“I can’t believe my kids are all grown up. It went by so fast. I’m really glad I…“
Both scenarios contains the sadness that comes with the realization that time went by faster than we would have liked. Nothing we can do about that. But it’s the “I wish I woulda’s” that are the real killer.
Purposefully scheduling time for some good old-fashioned fun is one of the best ways to sidestep regret and have as few “I wish I wouldas” as possible.
Patti Dahl says
My husband used to set up the tripod and video one on one interviews with our two children.
These are some of the most fun, heart warming and entertaining videos that we have from their childhoods. His first interview question was always, “Are you married yet?” Which always broke the ice and got the ball rolling.
This post really speaks to what’s going on for us at home right now. In a period of six months our eldest went from looking and acting like a child to a teen. yikes! It has highlighted how important it is to enjoy every moment with our kids as before we know it they will be adults. As for scheduling, I feel we do really well with scheduling in family fun but I think it’s really important to schedule in recording those moments in photo-books, scrapbooks or whatever form resonates. It’s so fun to look back on the earlier years, whether school and community time or travel. I admit I have gotten behind on this piece lately and need to get back to it—your post was a good reminder.
Glad to hear it, Wendy!
Sharon Rindfleisch says
I agree with what you said about taking time with your children as they grow up so fast.
When my children were little we lived near a park with a pool. I took them over to the
park whenever I could. I didn’t work outside the home. I didn’t care about if I got my
house clean before playing with the children. Now my grownup children do the same
thing, they take time to play with their own children.
No cell phones at dinner-ever! no TV or phone calls during dinner.
Marisela Cuellar says
I Have three boys, and I know how the time goes fast now they have their own family. When they were little, I always have plans for the day; at the time I did not have to work outside home, (I have enough with my house and my family) I always ask them to help in the house and while I was cooking they were doing some pictures to show me what kind of activities they will like to do. In the afternoon we use to go for a walk, or to the park to play with a ball, we have lots of fun. I try to keep participating on all the activities, like sports, boys scouts, church studies and activities. When Dady came back from work they always have something to show and share. I really enjoy my kids when little. Now when we go to the park I play ball with them, and I remember all those years. “Play with your children, talk to them, listen they don’t like to reapet”.