Things to Cherish as You and Your Family Get Older
BY KAREN COOPER
Even though last year seemed to last YEARS…. we all know that sometimes the days are very long, but the years fly by! Our children go from warm, snuggly babies to preschoolers who still need us for everything, to middle schoolers we hardly recognize, to adults who barely cross our paths. “Where does the time go?” How many times do we ask this question? Really, where does it go?
As you and your family grow older, you may experience loss of loved ones, changes in family dynamics due to aging parents or grandparents, children getting married and starting their own family branches, and a whole host of other things that may pull you off balance. Your life, which once seemed steady and predictable, can become unreliable and indefinite. This may make you want to hold on tighter to what you have or just appreciate the ones you love more intentionally as you come to understand that life really is short, and things don’t last forever.
Here are some ideas for making the most of things that really matter so we can all (hopefully) enjoy every day to the fullest…
Holidays – Holidays are a special time for families. The way we come together can change as families grow and there can be sadness as loved ones pass away or as gatherings we counted on don’t happen the same way anymore. Regardless of the situation, pull the ones you love close to you and take advantage of the people you have to share these special days with. Make a wonderful meal or go out and celebrate! Make your own NEW traditions. Make the memories special for everyone so they will never forget.
Grandparents – If you still have grandparents around and you all enjoy each other’s company, make the most of your time with them! Ask them all the questions you’ve ever wanted to and write things down! Allow the children to spend time with them without electronics so they can really talk to each other. They will be so glad they had this opportunity even if they don’t understand it right now.
Trips in the car – Some of our best conversations with kids happen in the car. As they get older and drive themselves, we are hardly ever in the car together. For this reason, cherish car rides to visit relatives or go on vacation. Those rides are truly special times. Make it a tech-free zone… no matter how far their eyes roll back in their heads.
Any and all conversations & the opportunity to give advice – When your kids are young, it seems like all they do is ask questions. However, once they hit the teenage years, they can get pretty quiet. This is why it’s so important to listen when they talk to you…. for whatever reason and especially when they want your advice. If they are confiding in you and asking for your guidance, you can feel pretty good about the trust you’ve built with them. Bravo!
Sporting events – Once the kids are in junior high and high school, the clock may be ticking on sporting events. Unless you’ve got a college athlete in the making, sports you’ve been watching (maybe since pre-school) could be coming to an end. Enjoy every game, enjoy their adrenaline rush when they score and when their team wins! Enjoy it all!
Meals together – Everyone is busy; the kids have sports, friends, jobs, so many things to do when they’re older! You don’t want them to miss out on anything, but it often leaves family meals by the wayside. When you do get a meal together, whether at home or out, make the most of it! Leave phones in the bedroom and really talk to each other about your lives and what you’re hoping for in the future.
Having friends around – Having young people around keeps you young. You learn all the latest trends in fashion, music, lingo…you get to remember how to be cool. (Don’t kid yourself…you’re really not.) Enjoy the hustle and bustle of having the kids’ friends around. The nest will be empty soon enough.
Hugs and I love you – When the kids are little, some of the time, you just want them to go to sleep so you can be free! When they get older, you realize how nice it was that they wanted to sit beside you, sit on your lap, and love on you all the time. Make the most of those big kid hugs, and I love you’s! Hold on tight and never hesitate to tell them how wonderful they are and how proud you are of them.
The laughter, the fighting, the chaos, all of it – Looking back over the lives we’ve led can make us even more appreciative of the people we love and those who love us back. It can make us value our time with people who may not always be in our lives or may be further away than we would like. It’s a bittersweet awareness when we face this truth…but it also frees us up to make new plans for the future – new plans that we might not have thought about, plans for ourselves, for a new life that’s unfolding.