While at a university thing for our high school senior this past weekend, a mom was talking about how hard it will be to let her child go off to college next fall. My mind jumped to a comment from a parent at our church, “Everything fun that our kids have done have been with someone else”.
So this is more to the newer parents than the veterans. You get about eighteen solid years with your kids. How do you want to spend those years? When you’ve just brought your baby home from the hospital and you hear someone say how fast the years pass, listen to them.
Not every day will be perfect. You will lose your temper. They will too. We all have tired days. Kids misbehave now and then and correction needs to be administered. No one enjoys punishing their kids. If you do your job well and consistently, the need for punishments lessens with time.
Now let’s think about the good days and what you want them to look like. Some people think you can spoil a baby by picking them up when they cry. I decided that I would never regret having picked that crying child up when they were 18 and ready to move out. After all, that touch is bestowing love and it’s hard to get too much love from your parent.
We have held family vacations in high importance. DH didn’t have them growing up as his parents ran a business. He also wants to see all fifty states. Our city offers some amazing camps for kids in the summer, but I explained to the kids that for the cost of a four day camp for each of them, we’d have three nights in a hotel and at least one meal. On vacation we build memories together. The kids would have had a great time at individual camps of choice, but instead we had a great time as a family.
Our church has a lot of activities for the youth, all of which are fun and have a lot of time in which the kids build their relationship with God. They also have a price tag. Our kids do some of the activities, but not the big ones. The big ones would take away from our family vacations. The parent who said her kids had done all of the fun stuff with other people sent her kids to all of the youth activities.
We eat dinner together. Sounds simple enough, but when I was a kid, my parents ate dinner in front of the tv watching the news, while my sister and I ate at the table with our noses buried in books. My family laughs a lot at the dinner table and we hear about how the day went for everyone. That’s another thing to not regret.
I try to get out with each child individually now and then. Admittedly, that’s easier with the girls than with my son. The girls like to window shop and they each have favorite places to do so. My son doesn’t have a favorite place to go. Now and then I’ll make it a point to take each out to lunch, just the two of us. That has to be spread out a bit, but the kids don’t mind.
Sometimes I have to make sure I make eye contact with my child as they’re telling me something about their day. I’ve got a lot to do, as everyone does, and it’s easy to keep working instead of giving full attention.
There’s a lot of rambling here. The point is that you really don’t get a lot of time with your kids before they’re off to start their own life adventure. Fill it with times when you are really present with them, not just in body. It doesn’t take money to have fun with your kids. Let them know they are loved. Tell them. I don’t remember my parents ever telling me, and I was in a good home.
Live in a way you won’t regret when your child is 18 and ready to start their adult life.