Treasure each moment. Make every day count. They’ll be gone before you know it.
If you’ve ever encountered a sweet old lady in Target, no doubt you’ll have heard these sentiments. And while they may be well-meaning, more often than not these wise sages dispensing platitudes fill us worn out momma’s with feelings of guilt and regret. I remember the first time my middle child had a public meltdown in Jo-Ann’s. Moments before it would appear that the devil himself took over my son’s body, a tiny woman remarked on what a sweet child he was and how lucky that I was about to have another. She encouraged me to enjoy each and every day because it sure does go quickly! Fast forward a whole two minutes and that same “sweet child” was being hauled out of the fabric section kicking and screaming as fast as his very pregnant, very ashamed mother could waddle. The furthest thought from my mind was treasuring that moment. All I wanted to do was get the heck out of dodge and put his cloth diapered butt down for a nap ASAP.
Despite the trauma I experienced in Jo-Ann’s, over the years I’ve tried my best to make the days I have with my kids count. Sometimes I succeed and other times I pray the things I’ve said are wiped from their memory by the merciful hand of God, lest they be repeated as adults in therapy. While the latter remains to be seen, as my kids continue to grow, God has been faithful to grow me up right along with them. I’ve learned more in my 10 years of parenting than in the 25 before having kids.
One lesson that I seem to continually have to be taught (my mom always said I was hard-headed) is that I can’t possibly make every moment with my kids a Pinterest worthy occasion. To even try leads to disappointment, feelings of failure, anger and an unhappy home. I don’t believe that either scenario, perfection or complete failure, is what Godly parenting looks like. What I have learned though, is that there are certain times of day that are already set up for a parenting win if I’m willing to lean in. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 talks about this very thing. It says “ These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Our days make look a lot different than those of the Bible, but we have the same 24 hours in each day to use to shape the hearts of our children and bring glory to God.
The first is morning time. What an opportunity to set the tone for the day! Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” No matter what brand of crap show the previous day might have been, our good Father gives us the opportunity to try again. His mercies are new every single morning. Those babies will still get up before the sun, breakfast will still need made and if you have a teenager, good luck- but we can still claim a win. Cheer on your toddler as she learns to use a spoon, ask your 3rd grader if he’s ready for that math test today, let your preteen know you’re proud of the choices she’s making. Little things like that let your child know that you see them, you’re listening and you care.
Next is drive time. Chances are you’ll have some time each week with one or all of your kids in the car. With my brood, our time in the car typically goes one of two ways: they all fight and are banned from talking until we reach our destination or not. No middle ground. However, when they’re not fighting the conversation takes on a lighter tone- think friends. We talk about what music they like, what their friends are up to, what the latest clothing styles are (prepare to feel old). You’ll be surprised at what you can learn about your kids on the way home.
Our third time of day is meal time. For most families this is dinner. It can be incredibly difficult while your kids are little, but you can still make the most out of your time around the table. For the littles, you can use their dinner to teach them new words and colors. As they grow, use this time to talk about their day- highs and lows are a great place to start. If this is a new concept for your family, it make take a while to get into a new rhythm, but when a family is together connecting, there’s nothing sweeter.
Finally, we have bed time. This is like the finish line of ultra marathon. You’ve made it. The day is done and it’s time for a little R & R with your favorite Netflix show. This also seems to be the time of day my daughter wants to tell me about everything she did that day as well as hear a play by play of mine. As much as I wish she’d want to talk during “business hours,” I know how sweet this time together is. Kids are willing to be more vulnerable at night and while they bare their little souls, this is the perfect opportunity to point out some of their God-given gifts and abilities, encouraging them in their walk with God and reminding them again that they are seen, known, and loved despite anything that might have happened earlier in the day.
Proverbs 22:6 tells us to “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We don’t have to make every moment count or treasure the days filled with yelling and tears, but we are called to raise our kids in the things of the Lord. By utilizing certain times of day to connect with your kids, you’ll be pointing them to Jesus and strengthening your bond with them too. Unfortunately, it probably won’t stop your preteen from rolling her eyes at you, but hey, ya’ll can talk about that one at bed time…