Childhood is short and wonderful and it is in these precious years you determine what type of relationship you want to have with your children. You get to build that relationship at this stage in their life.
This is the time when memories are being made and you want as many good ones as you can to hold on to. I am not a gloomer who is afraid of the teenage years. I believe that if you build the relationship now, it doesn’t have to be horrible, it can be wonderful. But even the most wonderful relationships have challenging days and times. It is in those times that it is so beneficial to be able to look back with the memories you are building now.
Not in a Social Media setting, but in an old fashioned paper book. Yes – those old things. Keep one, just one, handy in your kitchen or on the bookshelf in the living room and when your child says something adorable or does something sweet, write it down. Not every single thing but the funny things that you are sure to forget in a year and will be glad you took note of. I didn’t so this as much as I wish I would have. But the notes I do have are priceless.
The memories that you are working to make now will comfort you as they grow and are so important. This is the “childhood” they will one day remember. Hopefully with great joy and fondness, not with a therapist. You are building what will one day be their past…. Whoa – that is a big deal. Not just for them, but for you as well.
While no one remembers everything, that is not always the point. I went through a stage when I thought I needed to make every single day special. We did craft projects, took day trips or went for ice cream every day. I was working to make every day the best one. I wound up exhausted with a couple of super spoiled kids, who instead of being grateful we did so much, they grew to expect it and it took a while to break away from all the busyness. I wasn’t teaching them joy or making each day special. When every day is special, no day is. Balance is key (of course).
Ultimately, I learned that making every day memorable is not the goal. What your child may or may not remember does not compare to the reality that you are forming the bond that you will share throughout your life.
Are you the constant in their life? Do you let them talk and share their ideas and dreams with you? Do you guide them; give them choices or commands? Do you question and correct or encourage? Do you make time to enjoy one another?
These are the most important questions you can ask yourself as you are spending time together. More than the activity at hand, what kind of relationship do you want and are you working to build that now? It is so much easier to build your relationship when they are young than to repair or build something when they are older.
Make the most of the time you have together by building relationships more than being busy.
How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow?
Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. James 4:14
Yes, “these are the best days of your life” and Yes, “it will be gone before you know it”. Though you have heard it said, you can never really understand just how true it is until you feel it happen first hand. I knew these statements were true and I made every effort to hang on to each day and to make it special.
People in my life often teased me because my family did so much stuff. We were constantly on the go. Zoos, aquariums, mini vacations, amusement parks, you name it. I knew how to keep busy and for cheap. I wanted my family to experience everything we could and enjoy each other every day. Even at home when the kids were younger we were always doing something. Crafting, painting, experiments, anything I could think of to make each day special. I wanted to cherish this special time, and we did. But that didn’t stop time. It didn’t make the days last longer or move slower.
Even though I made the best of each day (almost), it still happened! The kids continued to grow up! They began to pronounce all of their words correctly. They started reading for themselves, they started showering all by themselves and didn’t need Mom to give them a bath and read a story. They didn’t need me to entertain them; they were growing up right in front of me. And regardless of the effort I had put into making their childhood a special place they should want to last and last, they grew anyhow. And even though I regularly reminded myself that this would be the best time of my life, it still came and went.
We all are well aware that these young days with our children are the most important and valuable days of our lives. The time we spend with our children will comfort us into our golden years. Taking the time, making the time can seem challenging and we can get distracted easily, knowing that there is always tomorrow. But while taking this time for granted may be all too easy, it will also be your greatest regret. Special daily time with you and your children, where you just focus solely on them is vital to their self-confidence and to your own joy as a mother.
“The truth is you won’t remember being late on that bill or that the house was less than perfect. You are unlikely to recall what happened on your favorite show and will not care that your email went unread for the day. What you will remember is the time you spent with your children.”
Mommy and me Time is all about bonding with your child. Creating lasting memories and finding common interests you can enjoy together. Some mothers have admitted that this is an area where they feel they are lacking simply because they do not know what to do with their children. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. Mommy and me time is really very simple. Share the activities you enjoy with your child. It should be as fun for you as it is for them.
Introduce them to your interests and hobbies. You will probably find you have more in common then you realized. It doesn’t matter if you have girls, boys or both. Creativity is not determined by gender. Whether you are into crafting or baking, scrap booking or gardening. Share your interests with your children. They have your DNA! They may be very gifted in the same areas as you are. You will learn more about them during this time than you may have thought possible.
Bonus for you! – You will get to take some time to do something you enjoy. Too often as moms, we give up our hobbies and interests. The house work and kid care can be all consuming and the simple hobbies we once did for fun become a vague memory. Taking time to share your favorite hobbies with your kids will give you a chance to do something you love and share it with your child. It is a WIN- WIN!
Share the activities you enjoy with your child.
You will also want to explore their interests. This is a great opportunity for you to really get to know your child and discover their interests and hidden talents. If you have a child who loves to draw or model cars or even play video games, take your Mommy and me time to do something special with them. Show them that sharing their interests with you is just as important to you as sharing your hobbies with them. Sharing this special time will grow your relationship making the door to communication open and accessible as they grow. They will value the time you share with them and have a better understanding of you. Not just as a Mom, but as a person.
Of course Mommy and me time isn’t always about doing a project. It is about quality time. Trying to complete a new project every day will become frustrating. We never want that. Some days you can simply spend time together. Play a card game or work on a puzzle. Make Mommy and me time, learning time. Try a science project! Make learning fun. Children really do love learning and you will have the added benefit of knowing you are growing their mind as well as your relationship. It really doesn’t matter as long as you are taking that special Mommy and Me time, every day. Making your child feel valued and loved, as well as bringing you great joy!
Mommy and Me time should be special time you spend with your children every day. If you have more than one child, mix this time up. It is great to do things all together, some days. But it is also important to take some special time with each child other days. If you have a younger child who naps, take that time to do activities with your older child. Spend time with your younger child while allowing your older child to watch TV or read a book. One can have “independent time” and the other mommy time. (Just make sure each child gets both.) Making each child feel that their interests are important to you and that you are making special time for them will give them the greatest sense of love and approval you can provide.
There is no end to what you can lean about your child during this time. Be sure to make conversation during your activities. Ask them about their friends, ask them their opinions on things. You can ask them questions from favorite colors and toys, to their opinions on current events. It may surprise you what even little minds pick up. You may enjoy asking them silly questions, like “What would you buy with one million dollars?” While most kids may not have any idea how much money that is, their answers will no doubt be interesting.
Get their opinions on things and have real conversations with them. Their answers will surprise you. The fact that you are even asking shows them that you value their opinions and gives them a learning experience as they begin to think about their world and form their own questions and answers. All the time they spend asking us “why?” Now is a great time to start asking them “why?” “Why do you like the color green?”, “Why do you think hamburgers are so good?”
Take this opportunity to learn more about your child. Play music in the back ground while you enjoy this time. Try different things, a children’s CD or your own favorite tunes. Learn what type of music your child likes best. Shake things up with different activities. This time allows you to share with your child the activities you enjoy and will help you learn what they enjoy and are gifted at.
Make a list of 20 activities you can do together. Bake cookies, paint a picture, play checkers or go fish… these are just a few. Keep your list handy, you will want to add to it as time goes on and make notes on what worked well, and what didn’t.
Plan activities for the week ahead. Write it down, post it on the fridge if you’d like. Get your child excited about Mommy and Me time. Have a planned time frame each day. (this can fluctuate each day.) Make a point to share something new each day this week with your kids. Be sure to make some of the days about sharing their interests with you. Do things you will both enjoy. Ask open-ended questions and start building a real bond with your kids! The rewards from this special time will speak for themselves.
I realized a few very important things in this growing up processes...
1. It didn’t matter how much I tried to keep them little, they continued to grow.
It was better for them and easier on me, when I learned to accept it and embrace the change rather than fight it. It wasn’t always easy to admit that they needed my help less and less, but it made me a better mother to take a step back and let them grow up, rather than attempt to stunt their growth.
2. Everything I did – was for me, too.
As mothers we like to tell ourselves and anyone that will listen, that it is all for them, the kids, we would do anything for our children. And while that is true, it is equally for us and what we think will make us a good mother or what we will enjoy.
Do you remember, when you were a child, your very first trip to the zoo? Chances are you do not. But I have no doubt you remember your child’s first trip to the zoo. If you took your daughter to the zoo at 9 months old so she could see the animals, she doesn’t remember it. Sure, she may have enjoyed the fresh air and being out with mom. But she doesn’t remember the zoo.
We are in such a rush to help our children experience the world; we often rush to make memories that in hind sight may seem a little silly. The truth is, that trip to the zoo, is for us. It’s for the mother. We are excited to see our child at the zoo. To take her somewhere, to do something special, to show her the wonderful things the world has to offer. And there is nothing wrong with that. As long as we can admit the truth, it’s for us. This is especially important for moms who are financially strapped. You don’t have to struggle to give your kids things they may not really want yet. Save the money from the 9-month old trip to the zoo. Visit the park and local pet shop instead. Wait on the trip to the zoo, when she is 5 she will love it. (And may even remember it.)
The important thing to know is that even though the kids are no longer little, they still need me. We still spend lots of time together, but there are changes we all needed to go through. The ways that I entertained them with crafts and finger paints will not work as it did when they were small. Now we have trips to the movies, family sporting events and shopping trips. We traded “Go Fish” for Rummy and Candy Land for Clue. I find that the kids are playing games and doing the things that I enjoy more as they grow. And while I miss the sweet 4 year old who got play-dough in the carpet and finger paint on the cupboards, our family is growing up and I am changing with them. I no longer think that the best days of my life are behind me, but that each chapter of our lives has a “Best” part and I love being a mom at each phase of life!
Being a Mommy truly is the best thing in life. So making special time for just you and each of your children is one of the most important things you can do, not only for them, but for you. These are the memories you will cherish.