Making the most of it
Summer is fading into a collage of memories. Looking back, I’m truly grateful for the special moments I was able to create and for the experiences I had with my family.
Though my kids are older now (6, 8, 10 and 12), it seems like just yesterday I was trudging through the thickness of my early years of parenting. (Leaving behind the days of diapers and kids in daycare were significant milestones for our family!)
These days I find myself both celebrating and appreciating their growth and independence, while also savoring time I get to spend with the four of them as kids, both individually and together.
As a kindergarten teacher, I’ve had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom during the summer months. This has given me much opportunity for long periods of interaction and connection. I admit, sometimes being fully immersed in SAHM life can drive me a little crazy, but my time with my children over the years also has given me a deep sense of fulfillment and joy.
Naturally, each summer at home with my children feels a little different than the last.
As they’re getting older, my children are getting busier with friendships, sports, interests and activities, pulling them in many different directions. And they’re nurturing their own strengths and abilities.
I know that (in just a few years) our big kids will be teenagers, busy working summer jobs and spending even more time on their own. When that time comes, I won’t hold them back.
But right now they’re still kids. We want them to experience an unrushed childhood, rich and balanced with play, new experiences, family time and lots and lots of time outdoors.
How are we doing it? Here are some of our tips:
Identify and stick to your family values and ideals. What is it that you really want for your family? Do you want to travel? Maybe you’ve found a love of spending time together on the ball field during little league season? Do you want your children to spend time with their grandparents?
My husband and I have found that we’re drawing on the fond memories we had as children, including family trips and time outdoors. We’re doing our best to set aside the time, money and energy to make it possible to share similar experiences with our children.
Be mindful of commitments and distractions. My husband and I try to keep our family schedules in check so we don’t end up overcommitted. This involves some thought and planning and also some give and take. When you’re overcommitted, you’re constantly racing around.
I know when I’ve been overcommitted when I feel tired from just thinking about what I have to do in a day. It’s not fun, nor is it sustainable.
Though our society has pegged “busy” as a status symbol, being busy doesn’t necessarily lead to a full or happy life.
Being busy and being distracted can go hand in hand. It’s easy for both adults and children to waste time in front of our devices. We can, however, assert some control over our technology use, so our habits don’t interfere with our relationships or our connections with the real world.
When we’re too busy, it can lead us away us from the meaningful connections, moments and experiences that will help us create the memories we want to make with our children. I encourage you to be mindful about how you use the time you have with your children.
Keep a positive attitude. When times get tough (and they will) work to focus on the good. Practice gratitude and celebrate the joys that come from parenting. After all, it takes only a string of lasting, positive memories to create a happy childhood.
Remember, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
Make the most of this time with your children! They grow up quickly.
Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four school-age children in Northeastern Minnesota. She blogs at kidsandeggs.com.