Counting down and making memories

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For many parents, summertime with school-aged children is anything but relaxing.  We fill calendars with schedules of camps, practices, activities, “relaxing” fun, and more.  As the kids get older, the calendar seems to get even more full.

If you are in a home without a full-time stay at home parent, the transportation alone is enough to send some over the edge.

Several years ago, I was lamenting this to a wonderful friend who at the time I was blessed enough to call my sister-in-law. Her children are a bit older than mine, and I have learned so very much from her over the years.

I was tired, the kids were most likely acting out, I was having a hard time trying to find time to do laundry, much less try to fit in creating a magical memory for them.  I was dead in the middle of the “treading water” days.  The ones where it seems they will never pass.  I was done.

She explained to me a concept that forever changed the way that I viewed time when my kids were out of school.

From the time that our kids start kindergarten, we begin a countdown.

Twelve is the magic number that year.

We have twelve chances to make the memories that our children will look back on for the rest of their lives.  Twelve opportunities to create the traditions that will form their childhood.

Twelve Thanksgiving weekends.  Twelve Christmas breaks. Twelve Easter holidays.  Twelve summer vacations.

That’s it.  Then they are adults.  They are still in our lives, but their childhood is gone, and they will look back on those twelve opportunities.

From the time they enter kindergarten, the days they live under our roofs is set.

Each year, as our children grow, that number goes down one.

The numbers in my house currently sit at 1, 4, 6, and 8.

The first number stops me in my tracks.  It does not make me sad, because children are meant to grow.  It makes me aware.  It makes me purposeful.

What makes me sad is that since I have one with a “1,” I feel the need to be much more careful with the ones still at 6 and 8.  I feel the need to make certain that ALL of them have a childhood that will be worth looking back upon.

It is definitely different now.  When the oldest was young, I was able to be home in the summer and create those memories on a daily basis.  Now that I am working, we have to seek these opportunities out.

I am fairly confident that we are doing ok at this.  We are not hitting grand slams with extravagant trips. We are doing ok.  If the colorfully full calendar is any indication, I think they will have plenty to look back on.

What are your numbers?  What are you going to do about them?

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