When you’re a mom of young kids, there are some days (OK, most days!) that feel REALLY long. On those days, it’s good to have chocolate on hand (and some perspective, of course).
My kids are four and two, with a baby due in about five seconds, so I’m in the thick of the early years, and honestly, a lot of the time it’s hard to have perspective (because it’s just plain hard). But even at these young ages, I already have my regrets: I wish I were in more pictures WITH them, instead of always being behind the camera; I wish I knew the magic formula for being more present and letting go of other things that need to be done; I wish I knew how to strike a balance between all the things in life that matter to me. And I also wish I knew my future self: What am I going to look back on in five, 10 or 20 years from now and think, “That was amazing, I’m glad I did that,” or “I wish I had done more _______”?
Enter the wisdom of some mamas who’ve been there, and know all too well just how fast these kiddos grow up. Though there are plenty of hard moments and long days, our kids’ innocence, sweet smiles, smooches, hand-holding and snuggles will only last so long. We asked moms for insight on a variety of topics and now we’re sharing it with you. Let’s all make the most of these fleeting years; they’ll be grow-ups before you know it.
Slowing down and staying present
“I wish I had enjoyed the moment more when they were young. There are so many times when you get busy and instead of relaxing with the kids more, I would get pulled into something that needed to be done around the house. You can never get those moments back and the time goes by so quickly and then they are all grown up and gone!” –Jana, mom of two, ages 37 and 33
“Maybe my one regret would be occasionally wishing [my daughter] to grow up. It goes way too fast. Sometimes it’s difficult, but it’s important to live in the moment because whatever they are like now, it won’t last and you will miss the child they were.” –Sue, mother of two, ages 13 and 4.
“I wish I had stopped worrying about when my firstborn would hit the next stage. I was so excited to be a mom and couldn’t wait for him to walk, talk, potty train and go on adventures…I feel like he grew extra fast.” –Jennifer, mother of four, ages 14, 11, 5 and 2
“It would have been so nice to have dates with each of my kids individually, which I didn’t usually get a chance to do. But I’m so glad I read a ton of books with my kids all the time, and that we bonded over TV shows, like Gilmore Girls.” –Patricia, mother of three, ages 37, 34 and 32
“I wish [my husband] had been able to take a leave when they were born.” –Jennifer, mother of four, ages 14, 11, 5 and 2
“I’m happy that I stayed home with the boys. I realize that the reality now is that most mothers have to work, but even a few years given to your children, whether it is mother or father, is a good thing.” –Jana, mom of two, ages 37 and 33
“I’m so glad we spent a lot of time with family, I think that was important.” –Patricia, mother of three, ages 37, 34 and 32
Making a house a home
“I’m so glad I made our house a place where my kids’ friends came a lot and stayed over. I think that was a good memory for my kids (and for me!)” –Patricia, mother of three, ages 37, 34 and 32
Teaching them to be self-sufficient
“I’m glad I taught my kids to take care of themselves early (cooking, laundry, etc.). But I wish I had insisted on explaining the world of money to them earlier.” –Patricia, mother of three, ages 37, 34 and 32
Recognizing their natural talents and interests
“I wish I had kept [my daughter] in piano. She teaches herself nowadays and she is clearly a natural, so what if I had kept her in? I’m glad I put her in guitar.” –Sandra, mother of two, ages 15 and 12
“As they got into their teen years, I told them I didn’t care what they became when they were older, I just wanted them to choose a career in something they loved or had a passion for and were able to support themselves at.” –Jana, mom of two, ages 37 and 33
Trying our best, getting help and being honest
“I wish I had gotten a psych ed test for my boy when I first saw he couldn’t read, instead of waiting until grade three.” –Sandra, mother of two, ages 15 and 12
“I wish I had been more open about the challenges of parenting…we all face the same challenges and obstacles.” –Jennifer, mother of four, ages 14, 11, 5 and 2
“I wish I hadn’t tried so hard to do everything perfectly! No one is perfect and you can make yourself and the kids crazy by trying. I should have relaxed more.” –Jana, mom of two, ages 37 and 33
Activities, sports, travel and outdoor time
“I’m glad I put [my son] in Scouts and wilderness camps. Knowing how to survive outdoors gives one a lot of confidence.” –Sandra, mother of two, ages 15 and 12
“Looking back, instead of all that money spent on individual sports for each of my kids, I wish I had joined a family ski club instead and then we could have all played together.” –Patricia, mother of three, ages 37, 34 and 32
“I’m happy that I didn’t force the kids into too many activities when they were growing up. There were some summers where they were in one or two camps but after that they just wanted to be home and do their own thing, or nothing at all. They just wanted to relax after the school year was over. Also during the school year, they were in maybe one activity during the week, but not too many. So many people seemed to fill their kids’ week with too many things and children need to have some down time.” –Jana, mom of two, ages 37 and 33
“I’m glad I stayed home with her, I’m glad I limited screen time, I’m glad I spent lots of time outside giving her an appreciation of nature, I’m glad we travelled with her a lot from ages five to nine and I’m so glad we didn’t take her to Disney.” –Sue, mother of two, ages 13 and 4.
“I wish I had asked people for experience gifts with my older two instead. Now they get memberships or sports activities and even summer camps.” –Jennifer, mother of four, ages 14, 11, 5 and 2
Some things we can all agree on
“I wish I had taken more videos when my kids were little. I so regret losing the ones I did have.” –Patricia, mother of three, ages 37, 34 and 32
“I tried my best and I loved them and in the end I think they did turn out great.” –Jana, mom of two, ages 37 and 33
What would you add, mamas? Whether your kid is two or 32, what are the things you are so glad you did? What do you wish you did differently, looking back?