Before we had kids, spontaneity was a given. On a whim, my husband and I would run off to a 10 PM movie showing or take off on a Saturday morning for a day trip without hesitation or planning or bringing anything more than a water bottle. We could do our grocery shopping leisurely, chatting about nutritional facts, or we might zoom through quickly so we could make it to game night at our small group. It seemed like we had all the time in the world to be spontaneous and fancy-free.
Then our first baby was born.
Suddenly, it took 30 minutes just to gather all the equipment necessary to run to the gas station with an infant. A trip to the grocery store was a colossal undertaking fraught with fears of crying in public and temper tantrums and stares from people who had had more than 5 minutes of sleep the night before. Forget about going to church without at least one member of the family having a meltdown.
Some days, 24 hours felt like it took a year to go by. Some days, I laid in bed, wondering how it could only take 3.7 seconds to go from hearing my screeching morning alarm clock to hearing a screaming child in the dead of night. Our lives were ruled by this little attention-demanding tyrant. Where had our spontaneity gone? The closest thing we got to being spontaneous was the spontaneous cancelling of plans due to some child-related emergency or our consequent lack of energy.
We had to learn to be flexible, because who knew when our cute little cherub would want to sleep or eat or have a massive diaper explosion. We had to be prepared for any and all battles. Because of this, we threw aside our spontaneity and clipped in a schedule instead. Kids need routines, and so do mom and dad—that is, if they want to survive parenthood with any patience or brain cells left.
As our baby grew into toddlerhood, and as we added one more child to the family mix, the need for schedules became more important than ever for any semblance of order. Everything had to be planned and scheduled around wake-up time, naptime, bedtime, meal times, snack times, play times. We planned the day from the moment the baby was awake so bedtime would come at the right hour. When the schedule got off kilter, so did the children—which translated quickly into frustrations and plucking more gray hairs from our heads.
Maybe we could have just winged it a little more, but our kids did not do well when we tried to plan on the fly. Even today, my daughter asks for a list when we’re heading out to run errands. She wants to know what to expect and when to expect it. (I'll admit though, she does help keep me on track while we're out and about.)
Time is sacred and precious, and though it is an old adage that "they grow up so fast," it is still so very true. Ephesians 5:15–17 says, " Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." God has gifted you with the honor of raising a little human being (or two or three or more). Though it is often a thorny blessing, there are more often rewards in the form of hugs and smiles, unabashed laughter, and childish joy.
On days when you find yourself wishing bedtime would come faster just so you can escape (and we all have those days), take a breath, look around, and realize that this day will never happen again. Make the most of it. You don't have to lose the spontaneity of your pre-parenthood life. Be spontaneous in showing love to your kids. Children live in the moment, and those moments are too valuable to waste. It may take only a few minutes to swing around and dance with them, but they may very well remember it as their favorite part of the day.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica. All rights reserved worldwide.
Catiana Nak Kheiyn is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches other young writers through tutoring and workshops. When she is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her family—a mountain man, two adorable children, and three socially awkward cats. She approaches parenting as an everyday adventure, albeit an often bewildering one, as the little ones in her life are in a constant state of flux.