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Today I took my youngest in for her 5 year check up and Kindergarten shots.
Shall I repeat that sentence? Today I took my youngest in for her 5 year check up and Kindergarten shots…
I cannot figure out where the time has gone, where the past 5 years have gone, and for that matter where the past 17 years have gone. I’ve heard the phrase up there “The days are long but the years are short” so many times and I feel as though I’m finally starting to realize what it means.
Once upon a time there was a moment when I realized that having young children made time fly by in an amazingly rapid way. Unfortunately with a whole crew of kids I feel like my years are flying by faster than I could have ever imagined they would. I remember shortly after Lila was born, Talon was 13 and we were talking and I remember looking at him and thinking “when Lila is 13 he will be 26…” and my eyes filled up with tears. I could remember the day he was born as clearly as I could remember Lila’s more recent birth and here I was 13 years later and it seemed like I had blinked and they were past and if Lila’s first 13 years flew by as fast, half of my children would be adults.
I’ve tried so hard to slow life down and enjoy this time and here we are 5 years down the road and I still feel like life is flying by. My children amaze me every day, they are no doubt the very very best thing I have ever done in my life. If I let myself dwell on how quickly time is passing too often I will be a depressed mess of a mom so I do my best to live in the moment as much as possibly possible. I often right now tell Nate that I feel like we’re living in the sweet spot of time right now. We’re out of the baby stage, our car seat numbers are dwindling, our kids are smart and funny, they’re getting along (most of the time) better than I could have ever dreamed, and they’re all still living here in our home.
I’ve got a few tips, not researched, just worked well for us, of things you can do to help raise well rounded children who are good people, because I fully believe my children are well rounded good people (I say this is a whole lot more in spite of me than because of me).
1. Teach them at a young age to be kind to each other. As many times as we all hear it, it is still surprising (or at least it was to me) how different all of my children are. They are raised in the same house, have the same parents, how on Earth are they so different from each other?… I have many theories on this but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is embracing those differences and celebrating them. Teaching children when they are young and enforcing as they are growing to be nice to one another isn’t always easy, children go through stages of being mean, grumpy, a whole lot of other negative stages and family tends to get the brunt of those negative things. We have always tried to call out the negative attitude and give them the chance to fix it, it works well even on teenagers.
2. Teach them to support each other. Our kids are involved in a whole variety of activities, dance, volleyball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, baseball…the list goes on. When possible we all go and support them at their activities. No, I don’t load up all the kids to go to an all day volleyball tournament, that would be torture for all of us, but when a game is local we go, we cheer loud, we support. I love when my children happily support each other and they love it too (highlight of parenting was when my son brought a date to his sister’s dance performance – parenting win right there).
3. Teach them to love. I said earlier I am surprised at how different my children are. This isn’t just in what they like to do or how quickly they go from happy to angry, it also includes how open they are with their affection. Have you heard the song by Doug Stone “love grows best in little houses”? If you haven’t you should but I’ll share my favorite part:
Love grows best in little houses with few walls to separate where you eat and sleep so close together you can’t help but communicate. If we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss. Love grows best in houses just like this.
In the grand scheme of things our house isn’t small. It isn’t big by any means but it isn’t small either. However 9 people living in our house makes it feel small and while at times more space is what I want more than anything I wouldn’t trade what we’re gaining by living in close quarters. We’ve tried so hard to make our home a haven for our children, a place where they can be themselves, where they can feel safe and secure, where they can share their ideas, where they can grow and more than anything where they know they are loved unconditionally.
4. Teach them to serve. While I fully support service outside the home I also fully support and highly encourage service inside the home. What better way to teach kindness, support, and love than with service. There are many ways to make service fun and that is great but I think the best way to teach service is to help them see when they’re serving and when they are being served. Help them recognize service for what it is and teach them to enjoy doing it and to appreciate it when they are served themselves.
5. Take them to church. I truly believe going to church as a family is the best thing we can do each week. There are a million reasons I could give you for why I think going to church is such a positive thing for children but I will settle on this one – there is comfort to be found there, growing up and living in general is hard, why not go somewhere where you can feel comforted, where you can be a part of something bigger?
You guys, I am so blessed. I’m typing this up listening to my older children laugh and enjoy each other’s company while the younger kids are tucked into their beds. I am loving this time of life, the relationships being developed in my home, this is the sweet spot of life and I’m going to soak up every minute of it.
Remember, The days are long but the years are short. When we focus on each day (as we should) they can feel overwhelming and daunting but we need to enjoy those days because when we look back on them we’ll realize they have flown by and all the sudden our first born is 17 years old and we’re taking our baby in for their kindergarten check up.