My first daughter Rebekah has looked up to her big brother John since the day she was born. In fact, he is the one who named her “Bekah” after he couldn’t say her full name. John was her first friend, her first fight, and her first fun! She has never known life apart from him and oh does she love him and look up to him fiercely.
One year ago now, John showed her the ropes in his school. It is now their school together.Today, they’re in first and third grade. I had no idea how fast it would go by and that it was only a season, soon to change.
In a day and age where our plates are filled to the max and we can barely blink before the next month is here. How do we embrace the time with our children as they reach each new developmental stage? How do we savor the gift of being present and fully there with them in the early years? I’m certainly not perfect, but here are three ways that have been helpful for me practically over the years.
1.) Value your face-to-face time. I can often tell when my kids are itching to have “Momma’s eyes on me.” With four running around the house crazy all the time, it’s easy to neglect one on one time. Getting on the floor, playing house, enjoying backyard play, sitting at the table to do a craft or school work have been great ways for us to be near each other and enjoy the time together. Face to face time has to be intentional as there are many things competing for our time – including screen time! I never regret that time and the preciousness of being fully present.
2.) Document your days. “Mom, everything you see is a memory.” My son told me a few months ago as we were playing outside on the swing set. What a deep thought for such a young boy, but he was right. What we see eventually becomes a memory in the past and what better way than to capture that through photos, writing, journaling, video and more. Thankfully, Facebook and Instagram and other social media forms make it easy to hold on to the memories and share with others. I’m slightly obsessed with not missing a milestone in fear of forgetting what my children were like.
Documenting your child’s days is a perfect way to reflect and remember the past and to be grateful for all the gifts God has given now. It will help your children know what life was like when they were young and to remember the good times in your family.
3.) Seek to understand their real needs. Fits, outbursts of anger, sadness, anger, tears, lashing out and more are all outward signs of an inward struggle. Perhaps, your child’s need at the moment may be sleep, food, a nap, or some quiet time. Perhaps they’re struggling with jealousy, selfishness, and wanting a toy they can’t have. Seek to draw out the real issue underneath and help them work through it. Having a reasonable solution can help your sanity and solve the problem. Thus, helping both of you better enjoy your time together.
The time we’ve been given with our little ones is precious and numbered. Life, as you know it now, won’t look the same five years or even one year from now. Take the time today to embrace it as a gift, because that is exactly what the present is.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife, mother to four, and writer in rural Colorado. She’s the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. To read more from Samantha, visit her blog: www.samanthakrieger.com