One thing I hear from all moms is that time goes too fast. And as a mom myself, I can tell you that time flies. There never seems to be enough time to impart everything I want to my daughter before she grows up a little more and her needs change. So, whether you have Siegenthaler visitation or are on parenting duty 24/7, let’s talk about how to make the most of the time you have with your kids.
1. Focus on the Time You Have
We all have 24 hours in a day. What we do with that time is completely up to us. Similarly, we all have a set time to be a parent. Maybe you are on a structured parenting plan with a custody schedule that tells you exactly how much time you have with your kids each week, or maybe you are living with your co-parent and have more fluidity in your schedule. Either way, we have a certain amount of time that we are there to mother our kids. Will you choose to ruminate on how much time you are missing, or will you stay present and make the most of every minute you have together? Kids tend to remember how you make them feel in the moment. If you want to make the most of your time with your kids, focus on the time you have now.
2. Forget What You Read on the Mommy Blogs
A word of caution about mommy blogs, social media groups, and other online communities: They are fantastic resources for connecting with other moms and learning from mutual experiences, but the problem is that there is no way to screen who you are taking advice from. Do you share the same core values? Do you have the same goals for your kids, your families, and yourselves? A frugal mom who is pinching pennies would probably seek different advice than one who is not worried about money. A mom whose child has special needs looks for different resources than those in mainstream education. Similarly, the moms who you meet online may be in a completely different life circumstance than you are. So, take their words with a grain of salt. If they do not seem to mesh with how you parent, that’s okay. It does not mean that you are doing anything wrong.
When it comes to being in the moment with your own kids, there is no blog that can tell you what to do. It’s all up to you. A problem arises when people do things they were told to do, as opposed to things they feel are right. It gives them an excellent scapegoat when something goes wrong, but it also takes away the ability to actually make parenting decisions. As an adoption mom, I know what it’s like to be swarmed with education and resources on the “right” and “wrong” ways to handle different situations. Don’t get me wrong, that education is incredibly valuable for learning and developing parenting skills. But if your gut is telling you something in the moment, follow it. No blogger or educator knows you or your children as well as you do. Their systems and methods are guides, but they should not override your “motherly intuition.” Parent by being yourself, and take full responsibility for it.
3. Be the Best Co-Parent You Can Be, Even If He’s Terrible
Too often, kids are seen as a bargaining chip between parents. This is especially true when parents are co-parenting from separate homes. An important lesson my clients learn during the legal process is that they can only control themselves; they cannot control the other person. So, you be you and be fabulous. Do everything you can to be a good communicator, share important events with your co-parent, and talk respectfully about them around your kids (even if you think they are a total jerk). Make sure your side of the co-parenting relationship reflects who you want to be as a parent. If they do not reciprocate on the other side, process the anger and frustration that comes with that, because those feelings are legitimate and real. Once you are done processing, hold your head high, and refuse to stoop to their level. If you can master this, you will enjoy your time with your kids infinitely more, because you will be confident in knowing that there is nothing you can do to make the co-parenting situation any better than it is.
4. Accept and Love Them for Who They Are
I have seen so many moms lose time in prolonged grief trying to force their kids to be something they are not. I get it. Especially during the long months of pregnancy or waiting for an adoption match, it is natural to dream about what your children will be like. Will they be a world-star athlete? Will they find a cure for cancer? Maybe they will be the famous singer you never got to be. The longer you wait, the stronger those dreams can become. Take a moment – right now – to close your eyes and take a deep breath.
The child you have is not the child from your dreams. They are a living, breathing, feeling individual. Everything you say and do molds them for life. That is a huge responsibility, and it is scary. But that child has a purpose, and they have innate skills and abilities that are just waiting to emerge into the world. If you want to make the most of the time you have with your kids, look at them with an open mind, get to know who they truly are, and love them unconditionally.
My daughter absolutely loves to see me laugh. And when I do, then she lights up with happiness and laughs, too. Many moms are quick to say that they want their kids to be happy, yet they approach life in a manner that has them rushed, stressed, and too busy to soak it in. If you stop and enjoy the present moment with your kids, chances are they will enjoy their time with you as well. This makes whatever time you have with them a chance to make a real, positive impression that will last them a lifetime.
Are you struggling to make the most of your parenting time? If you have a court-ordered parenting plan, you may be able to fix the problem before going back to court. Click here to set up a coaching session with our lawyer to discuss how you can make the most of the time you have with your kids.