Family Photos + 2 More Things

Iwould not consider myself a “little kids person.”  I have a one-year-old and a six-year-old at home, but I confess that I can’t wait to fast-forward a few years when we can have substantial conversations and spend less time on those necessary but mind-numbing skills like table manners and personal hygiene.  

I’m not the kind of mom who relishes playing Legos on the floor with her kids. (I’m the kind of mom who snaps two blocks together while watching the clock and then invents an excuse to do something else.) 

I have, however, discovered a few survival tactics that help preserve my sanity and remind me that this little kid phase is short-lived. Here’s what’s saving my life right now:

1. The 4 p.m. walk

This strategy is gold.  

My least favorite time of day is the post-nap, pre-dinner stretch. Boredom and crankiness most often appear during these hours.  

So around 4 p.m. every day, I load up the kids and the dog and set out for a walk. Usually we circle the block, but sometimes we hit up the farmers market.

The fresh air does wonders for everyone’s mood, and the exercise is an added bonus.  

2. A Clean Kitchen

I'm one of those people who cannot relax if my surroundings are messy. I need order and—as I discovered once I had little children—a (mostly) clean house to feel like myself.  

My husband and I have developed the habit of taking 20 minutes after dinner to thoroughly clean the kitchen: we do all of the dishes, wipe the countertops, sweep, and mop. Our six-year-old even helps!  

I may have sticky floors and crumbs on the counters for much of the day, but I know that come 7 p.m., I will enjoy a few hours with a clean kitchen.  

We hit the reset button on the kitchen, and no matter what happened earlier in the day, we prepare for a fresh start the next morning. Waking up to an already tidy space allows me to greet the day in proactive mode than reactive mode.

3. Professional Photos

I'm terrible at taking photographs. I'm not only a lackluster photographer, but I forget to take pictures at all.  

I have released myself from the obligation to take photos at every birthday or recital or Saturday afternoon at the park and simply accepted that our family will not have thousands of pictures to document the years. Yet I do not want to miss how our children change from year to year.  

A couple of years ago, my husband and I made the decision to spring for annual professional photos of our family. It isn't cheap, but for us, it's worth it.

The photos are beautiful, and we are all more relaxed not only during the photo session, but also throughout the rest of the year because I'm not chasing everyone down on those rare occasions I remember to snap a photo.  

And whatever pictures we take in addition to those taken by the photographer? Icing on the cake.  

These small practices enable me not to wish away these little kid years. They will pass by soon enough. Yes, I will enjoy not having sticky fingerprints all over the refrigerator and my jeans, and I won’t miss the dinnertime temper tantrums.

But as those yearly photos capture so well, nothing is forever.

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9 Comments

  1. carolyn

    Great strategies! As my kids were growing, the clean house and laundry were the keys to my sanity, along with an early bedtime! It’s so important to find out what works best for you. That was the same time of day that I had my meltdowns (still do, even though my kids are grown, although I haven’t come up with any good ways to combat that “I just got home from work and need to crash but also need to do things” mentality. Chronic pain doesn’t help!) Another thing they loved, was on days it was too bad to be out for a walk was I could send the older two down to the basement to play with Play-Doh if I only had the real stuff, or if I had homemade they could play with it in the kitchen. I kept it as a treat to play with because I personally hate the mess that the store bought stuff makes. My daughter has just had her first child (and my first grandchild) and I’m looking forward to seeing how she raises her and what routines she establishes once she’s old enough to have them.

    Reply
    • Emily

      Thanks for the solidarity and Play-Doh suggestion! I agree–I really have to psych myself up for Play-Doh!

      Reply
    • Annie

      Oh, that’s the time of day I struggle with, too. It seems like you’re coming home, but when you have a home and people to care for, it’s really just changing to your other job. I have been prepping dinner in the mornings so I only have to put it in the oven when I get home and then use that cooking time to journal fora few minutes and have a glass of wine, I’m ready to serve dinner and have a non-grumpy chat with everyone after about 20 minutes. It’s a game changer.

      Now if I could just figure out the late morning slump.

      Reply
      • Emily

        Ha! Yes. My one-year-old basically lives for snack time then.

        Reply
  2. Mary Kate

    I’m pregnant with my first, and while I adore babies for short spurts of time, in general I find little kids kind of annoying, haha. I know people say, “It’s different once you have your own!” but I cannot imagine myself happily playing with little kid toys for hours on end. Meanwhile I have friends who are like, “I LOVE EVERY SECOND WITH MY CHILD IT’S SO PRECIOUS” and as a person who needs a good amount of time alone to be happy, I am terrified of being a bad mom because I doubt I’ll feel the same. I am really looking forward to having older children I can actually talk to, however! So this really resonated with me — thank you!

    Reply
    • Emily

      Yes to alone time! Maybe we will hit our stride during those teenage years. Best wishes for the remainder of your pregnancy and the birth!

      Reply
  3. Greta Sutherland

    The overly-used phrase ‘this time is so fleeting, hold on to them while you can’ is not completely true. No mom is great from birth to adulthood. We each have our seasons. I wasn’t a great ‘baby mom’. But was a good teenager mom. So those fleeting first few years? They seemed interminable to me. They were exhausting and even now, looking back, they weren’t my favorites. Of course there were remarkable moments I adore, but I loved being able to laugh and talk with my kids. Still do.

    More moms need to be able to say, ‘Meh. This isn’t were I will peak as a mom’, and be okay with that. Playing with Barbies or Legos was not my favorite but driving in the car with them while they talked dreams and disappointments? Happy dance!

    Glad you’re able to let yourself off the hook and learn the tools to see you through. Self-care. Showing yourself gifts of love through a clean kitchen helps you be a better mama. Way to go!

    Reply
    • Emily

      That’s refreshing to hear that your perspective on those early childhood years hasn’t changed, even now that they are behind you.

      I’m counting down the days until the car discussions!

      Reply
    • Claire Oman

      Thank you for saying this! I have 3 under 5 and yeah…. little kids are kind of annoying, hah. Adorable, but I know from my teaching years that I enjoy teens waaaay more than toddlers. Now if I can just keep my tornado of a 3 year old alive until then, I think those will be great years!

      Reply

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