On Wednesday, I returned from a beautiful weekend full of family and fun. I actually felt renewed and ready for the next few weeks as summer was slowly winding down.
As I logged into my computer for the first time, email after email gave date after date with forms to be completed and purchases to make to prepare my boys for school.
Some of the emails were so detailed, I finally resorted to printing them in order to keep track of their instructions. My old school highlighter tricks accompanied by ‘checking my list twice‘ actually came in handy.
Perhaps you too can relate with this time of the year.
Just like the end of school, the beginning of a new year can be bittersweet.
We tend to look forward to some type of structure, yet dread the mundane tasks of getting up early, out the door and being a bit more organized. Homework can be our nemesis as well having just barely completed summer reading.
Our lives quickly move from our own pace to a pace set by others.
It all made me realize, if we aren’t careful, each year as summer comes to a close, our intentional family time can quietly slip away as we fill our calendars with more practices, more meetings and more STUFF.
Recently, I have been saddened as I have considered the ‘school breaks‘ we are given throughout the year. If you really think it through, our breaks are no longer breaks. Especially if you have older children. And, play any type of sport.
Don’t get me wrong, I have watched my boys flourish physically and mature greatly at the hand of their coaches. I am grateful for the perseverance, determination and hard work that they each are gaining from being dedicated to their activities. I know they are growing and learning so much through these things that I can’t begin to teach them.
However, my mommy heart sure wishes I could go back and steal just a little more time with them when the ‘breaks’ were really breaks and their schedules were less demanding.
So, this post comes from a tad bit of regret and great bit of understanding as I look back to the time before older children and school sports.
I hope that by sharing a few of my ‘what I wish I knew then‘ thoughts with some young mother or father, they might actually be encouraged to make the most of each and every moment. Inspiring them to hold tight to their family time as much as they can.
And, just maybe, those parents, who like me have been there and done that, might even be pushed to find a way to carve out some of those precious moments more often and take back some family time in the midst of a very, busy season of life.
What I Wish I Knew Then:
- Remember, babies don’t keep. As hard as the late nights and long days can be, those first few months of life fly by. Embrace the moment and your little one as often as possible. Very soon you will be embarking on the next phase of life, which will be equally as great, but different. Ask God to help you be grateful for each and every season.
- Take things slow. Don’t rush through those young years. Rushing leads to stress and stress leads to nothing good or healthy (spoken by someone who was always rushing and is still trying not to stress). Slow down and enjoy the freedom you have to make your own plans and do your own thing while they are not tethered to anything but you. Ask God to help you to settle in on this parenting journey as He guides you.
- Just go. Don’t let any book or schedule keep you from finding freedom in your way of doing things. I often stressed more over nap time and bed time than any other thing when my boys were little. Yes, use these as a guide, but be flexible as to what your family needs. Ask God for the wisdom to know exactly what that is.
- Buy the light up shoes. Don’t compare your child to everyone else’s. Let them be little and authentic! Just as they were created. There is no mold. God made them each special. Light up shoes and all! Yes, mine wanted Spider Man light up shoes when he was little and I agonized over this I am ashamed to say before finally buying them. Honestly, I don’t really know why! Ask God to open your eyes to see your child’s unique personality and individuality so you might embrace and appreciate them.
- Let them miss school or practice. Go on vacation when rates are cheaper and crowds are less. Take a day off when they are still little and tired. If you work, don’t let a sick day ruin your day. Meetings and appointments can always wait. Little ones, not so much. Ask God to reveal the most important things during this season of life.
- Say no. Just because everyone else is signed up for soccer at age four does not mean you have to. Nor does it mean that your little one will be way behind in a few years. There will be plenty of time for practices and games. But, as they grow older, your time with them will become less and less. Think about what you are saying ‘no’ to as a result of the ‘yes’. Which is more important long-term. Ask God to whisper this truth to you when you are tempted to follow the crowd.
- Don’t judge others. We are all on this parenting journey together. We’ll all have mountaintop moments to cherish, and unfortunately, we’ll all be in the valley from time to time. Encourage each other along the way. Try not to jump to conclusions or make hasty judgement. Just be a good friend. Look for ways to speak the truth in love when needed. Never find joy in another’s misfortune. Pray for other parents in your circle, at your schools and in your neighborhood. Prayer really does change things, including you! Ask God who you might need to reach out and encourage.
- Let them learn some things the hard way. Don’t rush in for every skirmish or battle your child faces. Let them figure it out. Give them room to fall and get back up again from time to time. Think of what they will be learning! Personally, most of the important things I have learned in life came from some sort of difficulty. Although hard, they left the most lasting impression. Ask God to give you discernment during difficult seasons as He reveals when to act and when to wait.
- Make time for important things. Ask yourself what is most important to you for your children. Is it their faith? If so, finding the time to incorporate God’s word into every day living is a must. Look for ways to share time as a family centered around just this while you have their undivided attention. Soon their attention will be captivated by technology, friends, activities and many other things. Ask God to help you be more intentional with your family time (remember, even with older kids, it is never too late!).
- Trust God more. Stop worrying (preaching to myself). Remember that God loves these little ones more than you do. Believe His promises. And, when the enemy creeps in with his lies, kick him out! Turn his plans upside down by thanking God for all that He has done and all He is going to do. Praise silences the enemy. Ask God to increase your faith and thank Him for all that He has done.
I pray this school year we will all feel God’s presence and peace along the way.
That He would be our guide as we guide our children.
That our will would become His and His will would be ours.
That we would glorify Him in the little things and the big things.
That somewhere and somehow someone would see Jesus through our lives and the lives of our children.