Life seems like a whirlwind. It feels like just years ago, we were on the opposite side of the parenting equation.
Not so long ago, we were the eager children looking to play with our parents, sneak a peek at the presents under the Christmas tree, and enroll in our first day of school.
I remember how exciting summer was and how we played until the last speck of daylight lit the sky. I remember how peaceful the evenings were after rushing through dinner and haphazardly cleaning the dishes only to rush running out the door one final time.
I remember making up games to play with my siblings and neighbors, performing Broadway-Esque plays for anybody that would watch. There were made up costumes with random things we could find around the house. Lines would be made up and rehearsed for hours until somebody was willing to give us a few minutes of their time to enjoy our hard work and performance.
I remember having lemonade stands outside anxiously awaiting our first sale. We'd sit there joyfully drinking all of the inventory imagining all the cars that would stop. We'd dream of making a few dollars so we could ride our bikes down to the convenient store and load up on our favorite candies. The hope alone was worth it.
I remember playing kickball and baseball games in the cul-de-sac all day long until our parents demanded we come inside. We'd play with anybody that would join us and we played hard. Beaty red faces and sweat-soaked clothing were common, but we loved it. We didn't need much, just a ball and a few friends wanting to play.
Life was so good.
At that point in time, I remember thinking I didn't ever want to be a grown-up. Much less a parent. Work, dishes, laundry, bills, and the seemingly boring life of parents didn't seem to compare to this life. It's not that they seemed unhappy, it's just that nothing seemed to be able to top the excitement of being a kid.
I didn't want it to end.
Fast forward thirty years later. Life looks different now. The world is different, responsibilities are different, we are different.
Life evolves and quickly changes, for all of us. Those childhood days of playing without a care in the world are fond memories of the past.
Parenting brings a whole new dimension to life. It changes your view on love and leaves you vulnerable. It teaches you patience if you're not a patient person. It shows you kindness, forgiveness, and acceptance.
It is without a doubt hardest, yet most fulfilling job ever.
Although there is no real manual for parenting, we can learn from those that already were in our shoes. Parents and grandparents chimed in to share their biggest regrets from their 'active' parenting years. If anything, it gives us a slight nudge and reminder that the good stuff, is right in front of us.
Here are their five biggest regrets from when their kids were little:
1. Not spending enough QT with them
This is probably no surprise, but the greatest regret of parents is not spending enough quality time with their kids. There are so many demands on our time and attention nowadays and it's a never-ending struggle. It's suffocating thinking about the demanding 'todo list', will it ever end?
Kids thrive off attention. Those goofy, naggy, loud, or expressive things they do that may bug the ever-loving shit out of you, that's them loving you and craving your attention. They don't need new toys, the latest and greatest shoes, or an iPad in their face all day. They need YOU. They need your laugh, your smile, your appreciation, your love, your response, your guidance. Everything else is just a distraction and things parents often opt for to detract from feeling guilty about the lack of time together.