When I saw the question on Facebook, “As a mom a little further down the road, what is your best advice?” I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Not because I did this parenting thing perfectly. Seriously, check with my kids. They will corroborate my story.
But I do have something to offer moms closer to the beginning of their journey. It is simply…
Your perspective is the way you see something…
Perspective has a Latin root meaning “look through” or “perceive,” and all the meanings of perspective have something to do with looking. If you observe the world from a dog’s perspective, you see through the dog’s eyes. In drawing, perspective gives your drawing the appearance of depth or distance. If we say someone “has perspective,” we mean she has a sensible outlook on life. (vocabulary.com)
So, Dear Mom of Little Ones, here is my perspective. With two sons in college—a 21-year-old junior and an 18-year-old freshman—I’m watching them take their first attempts at flight. I have a bird’s eye view, so to speak, of the launch. And ultimately I hope I have a sensible outlook on life. Or at least a not-completely-crazy one.
But let’s look at that second part illustrating the definition: “In drawing, perspective gives your drawing the appearance of depth or distance.” How does that happen? For one thing, artists draw objects that are farther away smaller. On the page they are little, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important.
A “Little” Perspective
1. Savor the little things.
You don’t know the last read-aloud or bedtime story you will share with your children. We often don’t plan these things out. “On December 31, 20__, we will stop doing bedtime stories.” It just doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes things come up and we get out of a habit and the thing just isn’t done anymore.
More often than not though, that thing ends as a part of the natural progression of life. Your kids simply grow out of it. But you will never know the exact moment it is happening. My youngest climbed up in my lap and we rocked in our comfy recliner before bed for years. I don’t even remember when it stopped. One day I just realized—we don’t do that anymore.
But don’t let that make you sad. Instead may it inspire you to savor the small moments. Even when you are completely exhausted and just want to go to bed yourself.
And you can know that God has other wonderful things for you all as they grow older.
2. Be fully present for the little things.
Be fully where you are right now—even in the seemingly mundane tasks of life like preparing meals and doing laundry. Sometimes when you pull those little jeans out of the dryer, take a moment to really look at them. Because someday your teen son won’t be able to fit his foot in them, much less wear them. (Unlike the Incredible Hulk TV show from our childhood. Hello? How did his shirt rip to pieces and he still kept his pants fully closed when he turned into The Hulk?)
So don’t be afraid to miss a text or phone call. If it is important they will persist. Set it down in another room if you have to because being available to everyone all the time means you aren’t available to the ones right in front of you. Children are smart. They recognize when you are distracted, and even though they might not realize it at the time, deep down they will begin to think that other thing is more important than them.
Social media can wait. When we stop scrolling to peak at other people’s lives we can really see our own—the life right in front of us.
3. Talk to them about the little things.
Well, the little things as you see it. They are very big things to them. So whatever they want to tell you about, listen—LEGOs, Pokémon, dolls…whatever—even if it is boring to you. Why? Because if they don’t grow up knowing you care about what they have to say now, they won’t want to talk to you when they are older.
And when you listen, do it actively. Look them in the eyes. Nod your head. Ask questions. The impact of knowing they have been fully heard does more for their emotional and spiritual health than anything money can buy.
4. Don’t sweat the little things.
The spilled milk. Someone waking the baby up after you’ve finally put them to sleep. The spilled cereal. The broken dish. LEGOs all over the floor (unless you step on them. Y’all that is NO LITTLE THING).
Sometimes you just have to laugh. Because these things never happen when it is convenient. Let’s face it, spilling things always happens when you are already running late, trying to get out of the door. So keep your sense of humor. Laugh (even if it sounds a bit maniacal at times😉).
The messes can be cleaned, mistakes fixed, forgiveness given. However, our reactions will teach our kids what we believe is the most important thing. We want them to know it is them not the things.
5. Then have a little fun.
Get messy, laugh, take walks, go down the slide, get on the floor and play. If you want to connect with your children, you have to enter into their world. I’ve heard the advice, “Don’t be your children’s friend, be their parent.” Usually this is said in relation to teens, and I understand the sentiment. As a mom, you have to make some hard decisions about what is best instead of what is easy, what your child wants, or what they think will make them happy. But I do not believe it has to be one or the other.
Building relationships takes time. Of course kids need boundaries and rules and consequences, and all of those things show how much we love them. But without the fun—the laughter and giggles and playing—our relationship with our kids will be missing something important. That special thing that makes them smile when they remember their childhood.
It’s the Little Things
Sweet Mama, you’ve probably heard the saying, “The days are long but the years are short.” And that is so true. I know you are tired. I know you feel like you don’t measure up at times, and like you just aren’t doing enough for your little ones. But let me encourage you, even in your exhaustion and even when you feel like you are less-than other moms—it is the small, simple things that matter the most.
So my answer to the question “As a mom a little further down the road, what is your best advice?” is pretty simple:
Remember the little things add up to so much more.
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