It’s true what they say about parenting: the days are long but the years are short. My oldest daughter will be starting Pre-K next month and for that reason the fleeting nature of childhood has been weighing on my mind. These few first years of my daughters’ lives have been so full of big moments: first steps, first words, birthdays, family holidays… the list goes on. We just got back from our summer family vacation and are now back into the full swing of day to day life. And it’s back to the little things.
Sometimes we get so busy that it can be easy to overlook the little moments. When we’re juggling work and childcare, or keeping up with ALL the appointments or rushing everybody around to their extra-curricular activities, time for quiet reflection can be hard to come by.
Also, let’s be honest for a minute. As much as we’re told to “cherish every moment” while they’re little, I think we can all agree that not every single moment is worth cherishing. Diaper changes? Tantrums? Sleepless nights? The NEVER-ENDING laundry? As with everything in life, there’s a balance to parenthood.
What I have been thinking about lately though is how important the little things really are. How they can offset the crappy moments, the mom guilt and daily frustrations… and make us feel, well, brighter. And also how they’re probably more worthy of our attention than we might realize.
For me, the little moments have turned out to be one of the most unexpectedly wonderful parts of motherhood.
While many of the parenting articles we read focus on the big issues, the milestones, the struggles and the triumphs, we shouldn’t forget about the power of those smaller everyday instances.
And there’s more to this idea than just pure parenty-soppiness. Studies suggests that the little moments have the power to make us feel happier AND help us to feel connected with our children.
Some of my favorite little moments
- I just love when my oldest daughter gets her words muddled up. She was a very early talker and at age 4 already possesses a vocabulary to rival many teenagers, so I especially enjoy her ‘kid-isms’. Among my current favorites are “fablious”, “boiling hungry” and “chickmunk”.
- My youngest loves to mimic sounds that my husband and I make. It’s so cute to hear a one year old go “ta-dah!” or feign a cough or sneeze. That and her little gap-toothed smile. Gets me every time!
- Stopping to collect artifacts from nature. I’m constantly scooping up collections of rocks, leaves, flowers, acorns etc. that I find all over the house, but seeing my girls so in awe of nature is a memory that I want to hang on to.
- Call me crazy, but I also enjoy seeing their toys scattered about after they’ve gone to bed (and this is coming from a neat freak!). The peculiar places they leave things gives me a glimpse into their funny little world.
- And finally… a more recent one… when those sibling squabbles are replaced by instances of tenderness. Like yesterday, when my oldest chased after me as I was taking her little sister to bed, to give her an extra goodnight kiss. I melted there and then!
When I stop to think about it, I could easily add many so many more items to the list. The early morning snuggles, silly conversations in the car, splashing about in puddles and not to mention their contagious giggles. They’re the kind of things that might not seem much to anyone else, but I wouldn’t trade for the world.
Aren’t our kids a great reminder that life really is about stopping and enjoying the little things?
How to cherish the little moments as a parent
One of the problems of course is that these moments pass us by so quickly. They’re often gone in the blink of an eye and our kids have moved into a new phase.
So how do we make the most of these precious little moments before they’re gone?
One great tip is to write it down. For me, one of the unexpected benefits of starting this blog, is that it acts as record for many of my thoughts on parenting. One which I’m sure that I’ll refer back to over the years. And hopefully my kids will enjoy reading it too. But of course you don’t need a blog for this – a journal will do!
Photos and videos are a must, although I do find that sometimes they can get in the way of the moment.
On a side note, I feel as though I already take far too many pictures and am trying to train myself to pick up my phone a little less right now – not easy!!
But still, I do love the photos. I’ve recently been going through the painstaking process of getting them properly organized and have plans to make up some photo books (I used to adore looking through family photo albums as a kid!).
But more than anything, I think that simply slowing down and trying to go with the flow is the best way to savor the little moments in parenting as they’re happening. Again, easier said than done with all the stress and responsibilities in our lives. However, skipping that one chore and going outside to look at ants with my kids instead is usually doable!
I also try to remember that a time will come when they no longer want to play with me, so I’m mindful of making these moments count right now.
It’s true that memories are made in the big moments with our kids, but I’m putting this out there as a reminder to pause and pay attention to the small moments too (as much a reminder to myself as anyone else!). For me, those moments are priceless and make me so thankful to be a parent.
What are your most cherished little moments?