1. Compared Less. Not only with other moms, but with the expectations of motherhood that I had conjured up in my head. Somehow I thought I’d be the mom who never got exasperated or craved sleep or kept the immaculate house and then when I wasn’t I was too hard on myself. I’ve learned, after nineteen years of being a mom, that comparison really does chip away at contentment. Learning from the past, learning from friends and learning from others helps us grow. Defining us by others keeps us stuck.
2. Read More Stories. This. I cannot tell you how many times I’d say we’ll read that tomorrow night or not tonight for the third book or maybe later for books because I was busy with something that really didn’t matter. And, in fact, I cannot remember it even now. But those books? Sigh. As I packed away boxes of preschool books to sell I couldn’t but stop for a moment and have that pang of realizing that many of those moments never came. So read when you can. Those minutes extra won’t change the now much but will bless you in the future. And you’ll be so grateful.
3. Slowed Down and Let Them Help More. I am a racer and busy and like to get from point a to point b in record time. I challenge myself in the morning to get the dishwasher unloaded before the Keurig finishes brewing (three minutes, friends) and I’m always plowing through everyday. When kids want to help it slows things down and often I’d just keep racing versus slowing down and teaching them. That’s what our jobs are – to teach and instill wonder – and now, now, now even if it’s dumping powdered cheese onto gluten free noodles I’ll let them help and will push my agenda to the side.
4. Fought for myself. Especially in the early years of motherhood. I didn’t want to take a break or leave the little ones and kept thinking that motherhood was always being there without taking care of my own heart. After years of giving without filling burnout sets in. So fight for you and your heart and the things you love to do. There is no guilt in cultivating you in motherhood. Ever.
5. Let the Dishes Wait. I’m guessing the dishes were one of the things that stopped me from reading that second story. Yep. I can probably guarantee it to you all. And yet, now as I sit in my quiet house there are still dishes to do. Just like laundry there are things that just keep rolling through in life that we always have to do – the dishes can sometimes wait – growing kids cannot.
6. Not let the Dishes Wait. Ha! A dichotomy, right? But not really. I’m thankful for the need for order that I have in my life. I learned as a young mom that the more order that I had the happier I was simply because there was space in the chaos. So even though there are times for the cleaning and scrubbing to wait until tomorrow there is also awesome in knowing that routine and cleanliness leads for more opportunities to read that other book. Note: it’s about balance. Not perfection.
7. Found more one on one time. This. Especially this. I wish for this now too. But you know what is cool? Just because they’re grown doesn’t mean that you stop mothering. My oldest daughter is a freshman at Seattle Pacific University and a couple weeks ago I got to see her in Seattle. Instant one on one time (and a shopping trip to Trader Joe’s). One on one time counts at any time.
8. Given myself a learning curve. Oh my word this. Event though the books all tell us we should figure this out or our kids should be doing this at a certain point somehow I assumed I’d know all the answers without learning why I should know the answers. There’s something about the process of time that teaches – which is why it’s awesome to have mentors – and in that process the curve of knowledge grows. It’s the same in motherhood.
9. Taken a picture of them in the same spot or way on each birthday. I don’t know why this matters to me now, but sigh sigh sigh, I’d love to see that comparison photo of how they grew. I’m starting it now. That’s the other thing to know – just because you haven’t started something in the beginning doesn’t mean it’s ever to late to start.
10. Been on the computer less. This makes me chuckle as my job is a writer and a digital marketing entrepreneur which by the nature puts me on media, but I still wish that I had established better boundaries for media time. Or perhaps, that should say my phone. I try to remember what it was like before my entire life was connected on a little iPhone, but it’s hard. So now it’s about balance – I have to be on my phone for work, but there are also times when my work means shutting the phone and playing (or reading that book.)
11. Had much less stuff. Probably don’t even need to go into why on this one. Just remember more stuff equals more to manage equals more to clean equals more time spent on things and not time.
12. Let go of guilt for free time. Or maybe just let go of guilt? That mom guilt of needing to do more all the time or not seeing everything that was done. There is no guilt in needing free time. Just because we’re adults doesn’t mean we don’t need the time to recharge and laugh and see a movie or plant a garden or play piano. No guilt.
13. Connected with more moms. And just been there. I think I got so busy in thinking tomorrow or that my life wasn’t as perfectly packaged yet that I focused on self and perfection versus forging real community. I love having my best friend live behind me – there is something super beautiful about having that friend there. Some of my favorite memories are when we would just sit in the grass at night talking while the kids played around us. Connections matter.
14. Worried less. Honestly, I probably could get the award for worrying mom. I’d worry about so much and in that worry would suck the joy for the moment away because the worry that I wasn’t making the right choice or that they weren’t where they should be or any of it would consume my thoughts. Now, now, now….I make a decision and move forward. Worrying keeps one stuck.
15. Documented the little things. Not the crazy big moments, but the little things like them playing in the sandbox or running in the backyard. What they looked like sleeping or how that toddler hair had the colic in the back. And written down the funny things they say. Holy moly, thinking to oneself that they’ll remember something makes me laugh because we’re moms and when we’re moms we’re busy and remembering that four year old funny even with the best intents often doesn’t happen.
16. Judged less. This.
17. Had more Family Meals Around the Table. This is kind of like that reading thing. Sometimes it would just be easier to eat on the go or without the intention of everyone sitting around. I look back the family meals around the table with such sweet nostalgia. It’s there where we learned about each other and what mattered and what was important. Those family meals – I know it’s cliche – but guard them.
18. Was more consistent and yet more spontaneous. Can I wish for both? Because I love both. There’s something super awesome about learning to say yes to a spontaneous sleep over or playdate but that spontaneity, at least in my life, had to be a result of me becoming more consistent – knowing that the stuff in the house was done or what to expect and so on. Schedules and routines are awesome but, as we all know, motherhood likes to take that schedule and turn it over.
19. Expected a whole bunch of normal. I think we’re trained to understand that there will be hard days and fantastic days, but normal? That’s what most of life it – get up, get the kids ready, do the laundry, take out the trash, help with homework, make dinner, get them ready for bed, and start over again and again and again. Somehow the normal can feel like drudgery until we remember that it’s simply normal. And normal is truly the beautiful.
20. Celebrated the awesome normal days. As an extension of nineteen, but truly, the normal days are the beautiful days that we someday will remember. Somehow now I’ve started to look at normal as a place to celebrate – like pick up the kids on Friday and go to Dairy Queen or let’s have a party because it’s Wednesday and it’s raining. I’ve decided that waiting for the awesome to happen simply means waiting – and life moving by. So celebrate today.
Don’t wait for tomorrow to start living today.
ps. And when they want to go to the park? Take them. That too.
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What absolutely beautiful words to love by! Thank you for sharing.
My oldest is only 5 and I already regret NOT doing some of these things…. thankfully he still loves most of those picture books, so I am going to commit to extra reading time for the next 90 days and see where that takes us! 🙂
That would be a “cow lick” in the back of the hair…..
Thanks for the English lesson. Either you’re not a mom or you should heed the advice that you just read.
Curious! I’m a mom and a writer, too. What does that have to do with anything? While I thought this advice was certainly worth remembering, I stumbled around through quite a bit of it due to grammatical errors and misspellings.
That aside, I appreciate so much of this advice. Thank you for sharing!
Ah, yes, I’m a nightmare for my editor and grammar lovers because I write in this crazy conversational style. It’s an interesting thing – writing – as I run the risk of spending too much time editing and losing the emotion but making sure everything is correct and everything is in order. Most of the time I attempt to keep it in it’s rawest edited form because I’ve learned that too much culling of the words dilutes the message.
That being said, I truly do appreciate the times when I’m alerted to a crazy error. And, I’m even more grateful for my editor for my larger projects. I simply cannot afford an editor for every post. Sorry you stumbled through the article, Eliza – and that the errors made the heart a bit less potent – but I’m still thankful you appreciated it.
Have a great night.
Why do they find the need to criticize? Just read…and…enjoy the message! If we just spent more time building each other up and not tearing each other down…ahh….the world would be a better place. Thanks for your heartfelt words.
I loved everything about this. Thank you for giving me pause to think about these. I think I will stop at the Dairy Queen this week after parent pick up. Just because.
Great article. Ignore the criticism. Thanks for taking the time to connect with all of us!
Really? It’s a beautiful inspiring blog about remembering the little things. It’s also about not missing out on moments. That being said, all you can point out is grammatical errors?? It’s a blog, not The New York Times!
I’m with Julie! My eldest is 7, and I have these regrets already. Thank you for the reminder that it’s never too late to start. Beautiful, beautiful post.
These are good, but what is #16. It only says “Judged Less. This”.
Ha – that’s me being silly! I only put this because I couldn’t think of anything beyond the words this to get the point across. I think I spent too much time judging others and I didn’t need to describe it anymore than that. 🙂
#16is the one that spoke to me the loudest. The one that in its shortness made me stop. And think. Knowing that ‘this’ is one of my greatest weaknesses and grateful to know I’m not alone in that. Thank you 😊
I have raised 11 children…4 have already graduated from high school and I have children in ages all the way down to 6. I was a fun mom who did lots and lots of fun things, took our children to every state in the nation, both Disney’s, our house is the most fun house there could be….I did everything I could think of to be a really good mom…and I was a really good mom. But when they walked out the door to college…I thought of 1,000 more things I could have done with them and for them. My point is…even though I was a full-time mom…think cruise director- kind of a mom…there is still more I want to do with them. They grow up and it is sad to have missed a moment…even when I was with them every moment. I have a chronic illness now and am not as fun as I used to be but I think that my little one will remember a mom who kept him busy doing fun things…only slower. haha.
This is one of the best posts I’ve read in ages. Yes yes yes! All of that. Lucky I get to practice all over again with a newborn due any day but the less time on computer (look what I’m doing now) & more time for books and play. Definitely!
This list is so great! I’m having the kind of day where I want to run away from the two toddlers at my feet, but this post echoes what I really want to be focused on.
And I love #9 — wish I had done that now, too! Going to have to try that starting with this year’s birthdays!
I love this, but as a hands-on dad, I wish they weren’t referred to as “mom” things. I think all parents can learn a thing or two from this!
Thanks for the input, Alex, and for all you do. I really really appreciate dads and all that you do. I just write from the perspective of dads – not that I don’t think you’re awesome – but just from my personal viewpoint. Again – thank you for being awesome.
Love. Love. Love. This article is so very very very on point. These guys are little only so long…. Thanks for sharing!
That’s a smart way of thiinnkg about it.
I enjoyed myself reading it.. 🙂 thanks
So many of these things I wish I had done more of. I regret very little in my life, but I regret not slowing down to relish all those little moments. My boys are now 16 and 24 and all those “little” moments are gone, however, I still delight in one on one time with each of them and every moment I get to spend with both of them. My advice, Don’t take the time for granted because they are only little once.
Thank you so much for the beautiful, inspiring post. My son has only two more years of High School and then his plan is to join the Marines. I am so thankful we have done so many of these things and are continuing to do them with him and my six year old. That being said, quiet time is over and it’s time to put the phone down and go in the pool!
Thank you for such a wonderful list. My husband and I want to start a family soon and I think this will be a great list to revisit every once in awhile.
My babies are 3 under 4 and I’m so guilty of not slowing down, always saying to them “later”, I don’t read with them enough, I don’t let them help enough, I don’t play enough. I stress over the messes and dishes and laundry, and forget that I need to spend more time with my babies. Even when I try to do fun things it stresses me out, Alivia wants my help, Buddy making a mess and Aly on the floor putting things in her mouth that Buddy drops. I find myself searching for ideas to be happier, more fun, less stressed and just sit in the dark living room at night after everyone is in bed and cry, surrounded by the messes of the day, the trucks and markers and cookie crumbs. It’s life, it’s difficult, and letting go and being happy all the time is so hard. Thank you for your blog!
It breaks my heart that no one replied to you. Yes it’s hard! See no 3 slow down and let them help more, and the have less stuff one. If you read this, it’s the things at will eventually help. I’m working on them myself.
Sending you thoughts and love.
Oh yes that is so hard!! Don’t give up–you have so many “friends” out there, whom you don’t know, going thru the same things! It’s ok to take a break–if you can find a sitter for a few hours:) or longer;) I have discovered it is healthy for everyone to miss mommy (and vice versa) once in a while. My regrets are not taking them to the park; not reading more, and not letting them help (and now they don’t want to-!)…but I’m planning to work on each of these:) Hang in there–I promise it starts to get easier!!❤️
I am so with you. I have 4 under five and I cry more than I’d like to admit. It can all be so overwhelming. I totally get the heart behind this post and I love that it’s encouraging to so many, but honestly I just try to survive a lot of days and hug them as much as I can….but I’m so tired of always feeling like I didn’t do enough. Anyway, just wanted to say you’re not alone and we got this❤❤
A big thank you for your article.Really looking forward to read more. Fantastic.
Thank you so much for this!! Going to print it out and live by it!!
Loved this piece and always enjoy reading something written in a conversational tone–errors be damned!
I, too, happen to be a writer/editor whose foreign-born mother sent the errors she spotted in TV Guide to the publisher!
This article is really helpful.. I regret not doing some of them.. Ur right when u say its never to late to make it right.. My sons are 12yrs old and 5yrs old.. Thanks for this..looking forward for more articles and advices for moms..Godbless u..😍😍
This is beautifully written and as a Mom of a toddler, I am going to take your suggestions to heart. Thank you.
I am a mother of 5, ages 12,11,10,7,5. My husband and I have been married 13 years, and welcomed each of these joys as God blessed us with them. I have always wanted to be a mom, but just last night, thought I was at the end of my rope. I am exhausted. I see the need for ME time, yet I just can’t figure out how to get it all done. I figure I have 3 full-time jobs, plus part-time. I go to a full day teaching job every day. I am a full-time mother. My 3rd full time is running the kids to practice, games, sports, Girl Scouts, Art club, more practice, more games……….. And then, of course, there is house cleaning, dishes (the NEVER ENDING dishes), bill pay, Dr. appointments, and let’s not forget the NEVER ENDING HOMEWORK. ( I curse teachers— YET I am one) My house is a non-ending wreck, I have way to much crap (yet can’t find time to get rid of it) When I do have time — like today — SNOW DAY YEAH—- I fight within myself, because I don’t want to work, I want to play at “MOM” crafts…………… I know what is important, what needs to be done, but OMG, so overwhelmed. SO TIRED.