As parents, I am sure we have all put off that fun thing the kids want to do in order to finish chores, clean the house, pay bills, etc.
I would like you to begin thinking about your time differently. Time with your children is limited. Paying bills is important. How can you find balance?
One of my favorite memories with my children is a beautiful spring day after a long winter (we live in northern Minnesota after all). My husband came home from work early, we picked up the kids at the end of the school day, and headed straight for Jay Cooke State Park.
We hiked, watched the snow melt rushing through the rivers, and gave our kids their first opportunity at taking nature photos. We even had them take a photo of me and my husband. We don't have too many of those! We looked for spring flowers and animals. We simply enjoyed getting outside. We didn't eat dinner until 8 p.m. My kids laughed on the way home as they realized we hadn't had dinner yet.
I share this story because this experience cost us very little — entrance to the park and a little gas money. For several hours, our focus was on nature and each other. No distractions. No screens. We actually took photos with a real camera and not a phone! We created connections.
I still have a photo of my youngest son and me on that day. He scrapbooked a page, titling it "The Best Mom." Every time I look at that photo, I realize we should have done a lot more of this over the course of my kids' lives at home.
Why is this a favorite memory? Maybe because it was a rare moment where I actually chose to walk away from tasks at home and make my family a priority. I know I intended to have days like this more often than I actually did.
Time slips away.
If your child asks you to lay in the grass looking at clouds, do it!
If your little one asks to play soccer, baseball or basketball in the yard, do it!
Have a squirt gun or water balloon fight. Pick wildflowers. Look for agates. Slow down. Savor your time.
One day, like me, you might be driving along, pass a nature trail and think, "I always wanted to take my kids there."
Your kids may be in their 20s like mine and it's possible they won't have time to walk that trail with you anymore. Maybe they don't live in the area. Maybe they have their own family and are doing their best to create memories with them. Maybe walking the trail has become physically impossible for you. Maybe you will feel regret like I did.
I feel confident that all parents have heard, "Enjoy your kids while you can." So many of us will listen but not really let the message sink in.
We have time right? We are trying so hard to be the best parents we are capable of being. Certainly, we will have time for all of the experiences we'd like to have with our children.
The reality is no one sits on their deathbed and wishes they had spent less time with their kids.
Put down the dishes. They will still be there later. Sit down, play a board game. Take a walk. Collect leaves. Polish rocks. Laugh when those rocks go through your washing machine. One day, you will miss washing those pants covered in mud. Someday, you will want reams of wonderful memories and stories to share with your kids.
The best part of prioritizing your kids is that you will have taught your children the importance of parenting and the value of time. I can't think of many lessons more important.
This article is one from our blog. Follow us @EskoCommEd for more articles like this one!
"Community Education Corner," published weekly in the Pine Journal, features news from Community Education programs in Carlton County.