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Challenge: Life Changes

Time Changes After Children

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Once you have kids, time will never be the same. I knew there would sleepless nights, crying, and constant demands when I first became a mom. I anticipated how challenging it would be to leave the house with twins, how seeing friends would require weeks of planning instead of spontaneity, and how sleeping in would be something of the past. But I had no idea how drastically different I would view time once I became a mom. Everything I knew about it or thought a knew about it, changed. When I became a mom, time became a precious commodity. There seemed to be more to do and less time to do it in.

Here are some ways time changes after children:

  1. Time is Measured in B.C. (Before Children) and A.C. (After Children). Your life before children will become a distant memory, and this only amplifies the older your kids are and the more years you parent. Your life B.C. will be something of a foggy memory; you will have to go back intentionally and visit this life by spending time with old friends, family, and looking at photos and movies.
  2. As a Parent, You will Seldom Waste Time. You will want to, you will think you do, but it's hard to waste time as a parent. When you are caring for a child, there is so much to do, every day, for years upon years. Feeding, cleaning, cooking, enriching, teaching, driving, and nurturing are just some of the to-do's when raising a family. And even on your most unproductive or less accomplished days, if you have a child, chances are you've already done a lot!
  3. Time is Measured Differently. Before Children, you measured years by numbers, or in phrases, like "When I was in high school or college", or "The years I was living in Washington D.C., compared to the years I've lived in Rhode Island." After children, you measure time through your child's age and grade in school.
  4. Free Time? Extra Time? What's that? When you become a parent, the notion of free time and extra time are obsolete concepts. For parents to get free time or extra time, there is often behind the scenes coordination, planning, and effort to make it happen. And when it does? The challenge is to fill that time doing something restful and restorative versus chores or work.
  5. Time Goes Fast. Into my second decade of parenting, I couldn't agree more with the phrase, "The days are long and the years are short." Certainly, some hours and afternoons never end; irrational tantrum after tantrum every other minute, and bedtime can't come soon enough! But once you are a parent, time seems to go fast. There is so much to do, and the work is never done.
  6. Time is Precise. Before Children, B.C., time was an estimate, a placeholder of sorts. After Children, A.C., time is much more precise. The school bus arrives at 7:42 am, school starts at 8:20 am and ends at 2:35 pm. For classes, lessons and practices, parents drop off/pick up children at precise times. And the savvy parent knows the importance of keeping to a schedule during the day, especially the need to have specific bedtimes.

If I could change one thing about time and parenting is I would slow it down just a bit. I would let myself to be in the moment rather than do in the moment. The race against time is the biggest challenge in parenting, enjoying the time when there is so much to do.

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