If there is just one piece of advice most grandmothers would give to mamas of young children, it would be to enjoy every moment. The days may seem long, but the years are very, very short and it will be over in a flash. I’ve experienced this personally as my oldest daughter went off to college in another state last year. There were times when the memories of her saying, “Cindelella” or her wearing that favorite pair of white Easter shoes to bed would literally overwhelm me. But the odd thing was, there were other memories I tried to recollect but simply couldn’t. You really think you will remember every milestone of your children’s lives, but the reality is, life happens and tends to get in the way. Your brain gets filled with appointments, extracurricular activity schedules and “who is taking carpool today?” These things, while important, end up taking the place of what Little Suzy loved to eat for breakfast at 2 1/2 years old.
So what exactly should you know? Here’s a list of a few pieces of advice from someone who has been there, done that.
10 Things Your Grandmother Wants You to Know About Your Young Children:
1. Family meals should be made a priority.
Gathering your family around the dinner table is super important. It is a safe place where everyone can talk about the day and about the things that are going on in their lives. Even if you order takeout, eat it together at the table if possible. This is especially true when they are young, because trust me, the older they get, this more difficult this will become.
2. Record the everyday things.
Yes, capturing that first bicycle ride without training wheels is important, but don’t stop there! Video your family on a road trip, video holiday gatherings, video your kids reactions to any big news share with them. These are things you will cherish one day in addition to the big milestones.
3. Know their friends.
From a young age, let your children bring their friends over. You can learn more about your kids by the friends they choose than any other way. This also helps you watch for warning signs that a friend they have chosen isn’t the best for them.
4. Don’t be your child’s friend.
Your kids don’t need a friend, they need parents. They need someone to guide them through life and teach them to be productive humans, not someone to hang out with.
5. Spend time, not money on your children.
Kids are expensive enough without giving them everything they want. (or think they want.) Time is much cheaper and the dividends will be exponentially greater than the return on the latest and greatest gadgets will ever be.
6. They will grow up!
When children are little it feels as if they will be that way forever. But they do grow up and you will long for the days when they needed you most.
7. Go to their activities.
We can promise you won’t look back and say, “I wish I wouldn’t have gone to that football/baseball/basketball game.” or “I can’t believe I sat through that recital/performance/competition.” As painful as they can sometimes be, one day, you will be very glad you did. They notice. They really, really notice.
8. When you are with your kids, unplug.
Facebook, Instagram, Email and Twitter aren’t going anywhere, but your kids will eventually. Put down your phone and close your laptop and engage with your kids. They notice if it seems you prefer your electronic “friends” over them.
9. Help your kids figure out what they love and encourage them to pursue it.
You know what they say, “Find something you love and you will never work a day in your life.” This is true! Help your children find their strengths, nurture those strengths and give them the tools to pursue what they love.
10. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Really, don’t. Let the little things slide and there is no reason to fret because your kindergartener isn’t reading as quickly as his friends. Or don’t freak out when your fourth graders asks for a pink streak in their hair. These things don’t make or break a child, but something like not having respect for adults, could.
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