Have you had that moment when you realize your kids are growing up too fast? I came across some selfies that my older son, who’s nine, took with my phone. The face I stared at didn’t have a goofy, carefree smile. It had a smirk that said, “I’m trying really hard to look cool.” Who is this kid?
We’ve all heard the cliche advice about kids growing up too fast: “Don’t blink! They’ll be grown before you know it.” “The days are long but the years are short.” Do you ever just want to shout, “I KNOW and it breaks my heart, but what can I do?” Well, you can’t stop time, but here are 10 things you can do to slow it down a little.
1. Learn about this stage and invest in it.
When I was newly pregnant with my first, a mother of adult children told me that every stage of her kids’ development was her favorite. I didn’t know a mom was allowed to feel that way! I thought we had to pick the age we liked the most and be eager for it to arrive and then sad when it passed. Her words made me commit to finding the sweetness of the stage we’re in.
2. Be present when you’re together—don’t multitask.
Be present and put your phone down, even if you’re just watching TV together. You’ll notice how he’s sitting or how she’s playing with her hair, and maybe even get to hold hands. It will be a shame if, when our kids are grown, we realize we’ve spent more of our free time looking at screens than their faces.
3. Focus on how you’re preparing your child instead of on losing your baby.
I often feel conflicted as a mother. As painful as it is to see a child grow and leave, it’s part of the gig. When it feels like your kids are growing up too fast, instead of focusing on the sadness of what you’ve left behind, savor the moment you’re in and ask if you’re doing all you can to form their spirits for what’s to come.
4. Pray for intention.
If you had only 24 hours to be with your loved ones, you wouldn’t want to miss a second. You’d hang on to their every word and make the most of even the most mundane moments. We can’t live our entire lives like that, but we can pray that we don’t take moments for granted or miss out on an opportunity to connect. Ask God to show you ways to parent with more purpose.
5. Let kids be kids.
It might feel like your kids are growing up too fast because they care too much about the ways of the world. I felt crushed the other day when my nine-year-old asked what we would do if our house got bombed during a birthday party. Why is he even considering this? In order to preserve their carefree spirits, we need to help them embrace everything it means to be a child—wonder, laughter, and joy.
6. Be the house where everyone feels welcomed.
You can make time slow down by not missing as many moments with your kids. That means being the home where there’s always a snack to eat, a game to play, and a warm smile waiting to greet them. Who cares if the house is a wreck when everyone leaves?
7. Get to know their friends.
Even if you can’t be the house with an open-door policy, make it a point to get to know your kids’ friends. Chaperone a dance or field trip. Volunteer one day at school. The more you know about your children’s world and see them in it, the less you miss and are surprised by when they are grown.
The more you know about your children’s world and see them in it, the less you miss and are surprised by when they are grown.
8. Hold off on movies and TV shows.
I’ll out myself here. The other day one of my sons said a word that made me cringe. It wasn’t a “bad word,” but it was definitely a more mature word than I think should be coming out of his mouth. He’d heard it in a movie I let him watch. As parents, we have favorite movies or shows from our childhood that we want our kids to experience, but there’s no rush. Let them stay in the Paw Patrol or Disney Jr. phase for as long as possible!
9. Go to the game.
It’s OK if you can’t make every game, recital, or play. You’re human. But remember that there are only so many years that you’ll be the mom on the cold metal bleachers (and time does seem to slow down when you’re sitting there shivering). So live it up while you can.
10. Look and listen.
I still remember years ago after an afternoon storm my mom pointed out my son’s tiny wet footprint on the sidewalk. I was totally distracted and would never have noticed how perfectly formed it was. Once a day, stop and look at your child. Listen to the sound of his or her voice. Do this with no goal except to take in the moment.
What do you do to savor the moments with your children?