One of my favorite country songs, “You’re Gonna Miss This,” by Trace Adkins, has such an amazing message about how quickly the years fly by.
The lyrics are about a young girl racing to the finish line in life who’s reminded by her mom and dad to slow down, look around and enjoy where she is in life…
You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around. You may not know it now, but you’re gonna miss this…
As I sat in my car waiting to pick up my son after school, I listened to the words of the song – I mean really listened – and found myself brushing a tear away from my cheek.
I realized that maybe I need the same reminder. I’m always rushing to do something. I’m always rushing to be somewhere. And, I’m always rushing to check yet another “thing” off my to-do list. From driving my kids to the end of the earth and back, and making dinner to folding mounds of laundry and running endless errands, sometimes my days are a blur.
As I sat there staring out the window of the car, I couldn’t help but think that maybe my priorities weren’t in order, that maybe I had lost sight of what’s really important and somehow, in my quest to be the absolute best mom I can be, I allowed myself to get too caught up in the chaos of life.
I don’t want to just survive these crazy, tumultuous teen years with my kids. I want to grab hold of the big moments with a vice grip and never let them go. I want my heart to snap a picture of the seemingly ordinary moments and tuck them away for safekeeping so I can pull them out years from now and remember.
I want to have quiet conversations with my kids while we sip hot cocoa and listen to the fire crackling in the fireplace. I want to sit in their bedroom late at night and watch them do their homework as I study their profile. I want to sit next to them and laugh about a silly video they saw on the Internet. I want to be present for all the “firsts” in their lives and take in the nostalgia of all the “lasts.”
In the midst of our wildly busy days, imagine how amazing it would feel to be truly present in our kid’s lives and take note of the special moments as they’re happening as opposed to reflecting back years later.
From a mom who “get’s” what life is like raising teens, here are a few things that I’ve learned in the trenches that might help put life back in perspective so we can all grab hold of the amazing, fleeting moments with our kids.
Stop Worrying About the Future
As Mark Twain said, “I have known many great troubles, but most of them never happened.” As parents, we all worry to some degree. It’s simply inherent in our DNA. We worry about our children’s future, whether they’ll make the right choices now that they have more freedom, whether they’ll do well in school, if they’ll fit in, and whether they’ll surround themselves with the right friends. Our worries are endless. But, there are steps we can take to minimize our worry, feel more relaxed as a parent and live more in the moment.
For starters, we can choose to be involved in our kids’ lives, ask more questions, and find out what’s on their minds. The more connected we are with our kids and the more they communicate with us about what they’re thinking and their choices, the less likely we are to worry.
Secondly, take note of the difference between fact and fear. Ask yourself if you have a legitimate reason to worry or if your worries are simply unfounded. Media coverage filled with news of abductions, murders, and violence is enough to send any parent over the edge leaving us worried about a host of things that are likely never to happen.
Put Perspective Back Where it Belongs
No matter how hard we to try to control our children’s lives and their choices, they want and need us to back off. By the time they reach the teen years they’re itching for more freedom.
Unfortunately, giving them added freedom paves the way for mistakes on their part and more worry on our part, which inevitably steals little pieces of joy from our day and prevents us from being present in our kids’ lives. But, we need to keep things in perspective… they will make mistakes. It’s inevitable. It’s how they learn and mature.
As parents, we need to calm ourselves from the constant, exhausting fear by understanding that they’re learning, they’re venturing into new territory and they’re bound to make a few mistakes along the way. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with jumping in to help our kids, especially if they’re in danger, but there should be limits.
It’s our job as a parent to prepare them for the future and we won’t be doing them any favors in the long run if we hold their hand throughout the teen years. By understanding that you’re doing what’s right for your kids, you’ll not only allay your own fears and worry, but it will also lay the foundation for a much happier, calmer and connected relationship between you and your child.
Vow to Spend Quality Time with Your Child Every Day
How many times have you had conversations with your kids while thinking about something you forgot to do or looking at your texts on your phone? Multi-tasking, which sounded pretty darn awesome when the term was coined, is actually creating barriers between us and our kids.
These days nearly every mom I know is what I’d consider a “super mom.” They have the uncanny ability to juggle eight million projects simultaneously without skipping a beat. Heck, I’m totally guilty of it myself. But our amazing balancing act isn’t helping us build a strong relationship with our kids at a time in their life when they need our attention the most.
As difficult as it may be, slow down a bit. Let the laundry pile up for a day, run the errand tomorrow or make the call to your friend later. Our kids need our undivided attention and, you may not realize it, but you need it too. The more connected you are with your kids the more peace it will bring you. Even though teenagers are notorious for being constantly on the go, vow to carve out a few minutes of quality time with your child every day.
Whether it’s sitting with them for ten minutes before they dash out the door for school, grabbing a quick lunch on a Saturday or sitting with them in their bedroom for a few minutes before they go to sleep. Listening, and I mean really listening to your kids, paying attention to what they have to say, making eye contact and enjoying their company will do more good for your peace of mind than any errand you have on your to-do list.
Live in the Moment
In a fast-paced world where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to unplug, living in the moment is something that may take some time. Practice savoring even a few precious minutes every day. Take in the sounds, awaken your senses to what’s around you, tune in to what’s really important and give yourself the freedom to slow down… without the parental guilt. Being more conscious of life as it happens will not only make you a much happier person, it will have a resounding and rewarding impact on the relationship you have with your kids.