It is the middle of May and summer is just around the corner. But for most of us here in the U.S. we have had “stay at home” orders forcing us to be home all day, every day, with our immediate family. Those of us with little ones at home probably wish there was an actual parenting guide out there to tell us exactly what to do in this situation.
Like most other parents, we are just trying to get by. Everyone is juggling work with parenting, and online school on top of all of the normal everyday responsibilities.
Some of us may be feeling a little bit isolated. All of us are feeling out of sorts with our normal routines being thrown out the window. And I am still waiting to find that parenting guide on how not to go insane with a 2 and 4 year old at home.
This time of year usually brings about a lot of excitement. Kids are excited to be near the end of the school year. They are looking forward to all the activities that summer brings. Families are thinking about their summer vacations that they have planned which may include time at the beach and lazy carefree days.
Instead of the excitement of summer most of us have a feeling of uncertainty. Uncertainty about travel, social distancing, and just life in general for the next few months. It’s hard to see this as the “new normal” at least for the time being.
A lot of parents I know are feeling overwhelmed as if their world has been turned completely upside down. Not having that separate work and family time can sometimes be a hard adjustment.
When your kids are little, you hear time and time again that you should “enjoy this time, because it goes by fast.” That is definitely true. And like any good parent, I try to slow down and enjoy my little ones, even when things are not going particularly well. But we all have our moments.
On one of these particularly hard days, I remembered something that my husband, Jason, told me. And it stopped me in my tracks. A few years ago, we had a conversation about fully enjoying the time that we have with our children. One thing that I remember from that conversation is him saying that “we only have 18 summers with our kids.”
Thinking of life and time in this way makes us realize that we need to slow down and enjoy the little moments more. We sometimes get caught up with our daily tasks and short term goals that we forget to take time out of our busy schedules to just sit and be present.
We Only Have 18 Summers With Our Kids – How will you spend them?
Our children are young (2 and 4) but I can already see how fast time flies by. It feels like just yesterday that our littlest one was born. Next we will be sending our kids off to school for the first time. Then before we know it we will be dropping them off at college.
All of these things and everything in between will inevitably happen. There’s no stopping time in its tracks and no way to make time slow down.
There is an interesting article on “Wait But Why” that measures life in events or activities. The writer, Tim Urban, analyzes his relationship with his parents and figures out that as an adult he has already experienced 93% of his lifetime in-person “parent time.” Like most families a majority of that time spent with his parents happened before the age of 18. It made me stop and reflect more on the important relationships that I have with the people that I love. And I realized how little time I may have left to foster these connections.
The article is written from the perspective of an adult looking at his adult parents. But I think that it definitely holds true by looking at it the other way around. The first 18 years of our children’s lives are going to be the most time that we get to spend with them.
It’s kind of sad to think that we only have 18 summers with our kids before they are adults living their own adult lives. But knowing this fact and thinking about time in this way is changing our mindset.
So To Our Kids, We Promise You This:
- We will read you that second book before bedtime just to spend the extra, quiet, one on one time with you.
- We will dig in the sand, make sand castles, and collect beach treasures with you until the sun dips below the horizon.
- We will stop what we are doing and listen, patiently, to your stories in awe of your creativity and imagination.
- We will act silly with you just to hear your giggles that we never want to forget.
- We will take you on numerous adventures and show you all of the wonderful and amazing places that exist on this planet.
Our Parenting Guide And Goals
There are so many life skills that we want to teach our children. From the basic attributes of being kind and accepting of others to the more complex traits of being financially self sufficient and having global and cultural awareness.
Our goal as parents is to find the balance between work and play. We want our children to know that hard work and dedication pay off. But we don’t want them to think that life is all about work.
We are insistent on spending as much quality time as possible with our kids now because we know they will not be home with us forever, which is a good thing. We want them to grow up to be independent and to be able to lead their lives with confidence.
Giving our children the tools that they need to succeed in life is something that we are passionate about. But our job as a parent is to not only provide the education that our children need but more importantly to set the example of who we want them to become. Kids are like sponges. They absorb everything around them, even when we don’t realize it…they are always listening!
Children observe and assimilate values from those that they are close to as well as from their environment. We want our kids to grow up understanding the value of education, honesty, and hard work. By instilling these everlasting core values, we hope that our children become well rounded adults.
Life is hard. There is no parenting guide (trust me, I’ve looked). I think that the best thing that we can do for our kids at this time is to be present. We can try to guide our kids on the right path, which I think is important. But just taking time out of our day for them and spending time with them is equally influential.
I also believe that we need our children just as much as they need us. Even on the worst of days, a hug and cuddle with our little ones is all that I need to feel all of the stress and negative feelings slip away. Their innocence and laughter is enough for me to breathe a sigh of relief and know that life really isn’t that bad.
The day to day grind and occasional moments of chaos can sometimes act as blinders to seeing the whole picture. Our days with our children may at times seem long but the years that we have with them are short. One thing’s for sure – You will never look back and regret spending time with your kids.