Tonight, at the end of a particularly trying day parenting four kids under the age of 7, I find myself reflecting on a paradox of motherhood.
These are the moments that older parents look back on fondly, that strangers warn that young parents will miss one day.
And yet, I am too exhausted or overwhelmed to notice much of anything but the messes my toddler keeps making behind me, the bickering between my oldest two, and the baby’s hungry cries while I reach over dirty dishes to heat her bottle.
Everywhere I turn, there is something to be done and someone who needs me. It is so tiring, it hurts.
And yet, when my children have moved out and are independent, I am sure I will fiercely miss this season.
Where is the point at which I can just look at my life and think, “This is the sweet spot?”
I wonder if I always look at my life as a whole, I will never feel that way.
Instead, maybe I have to find the little moments.
My baby’s giggle. My daughter’s strong progress report. My toddler’s comical excitement over having meatballs for dinner. My son’s imagination leading him to create all day.
Each day is a collection of moments. If I concentrate on the beauty of some, maybe that will allow me to power through the ugly ones.
Maybe that’s why as an older parent, I will look back fondly on this life and miss it. It’s the little moments of beauty that will linger while the others fade away.
How are you keeping track of your little moments?
Intentionally capturing and reflecting upon little moments should hopefully make it easier to get through those all-too-common aggravations of motherhood. Here are some ideas for ways to reflect on daily moments of joy.
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Short Video Clips
You can use an app such as LeapSecond or 1 Second Everyday to take a short video clip each day. It was my New Year’s resolution to do this consistently every month, and it has been such a blast for me to watch back all of our little moments as one quick montage.
Create a Social Media Memory Book
I don’t know about you, but I often naturally capture my happiest moments on social media — funny kid quotes, memorable pictures, milestones. After sharing your positive memories on social media, you can use a company like My Social Book to create a memory book each year.
Write It Down
Make a point at the end of each day to write in a gratitude or bullet journal. Jot down at least one positive memory at the end of every day. Read them back occasionally, especially when you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
Try to train yourself to find moments in the day when you can be fully present. Take extra time to let your little moments sink in when you recognize them. Use all of your senses to capture a full memory you can go back to when you need a pick-me-up.
Ask Your Kids to be Creative
At the end of a day, request that your kids to draw a picture of a favorite memory from that day. Not only will this capture your little moments and help your kids to be creative, it will also give you conversation starters and the ability to see what was memorable or important to them. Maybe it will also give you some perspective. Some days that seem simple or insignificant in adult minds are actually very special to kids.
Keep a Family Journal
Look at Us Now: A Creative Family Journal offers pages and pages of interactive prompts for your family to work through together, little by little or all at once. You will draw pictures, make lists, trace hands, and write down nicknames and family jokes, and by the end, you will have a keepsake snapshot of your family from this moment in time.
Use a Memory Box or Jar
Make it a family tradition to write a little moment from the day on a slip of paper at night and keep these in a box or memory jar. This could be a fun thing to revisit at the end of each month or year to reminisce about all the great moments you had together.
Get Memory-Keeping Supplies Delivered
Subscribe to a Cratejoy box, such as Found and Flowered. You’ll regularly receive supplies to use for your journaling and memory-keeping.
Set up an email address that’s just for the purpose of capturing your little moments. Send a quick message each night with a brief reflection from the day. I have also heard of people sending emails to their small children and then sharing the emails with them when they are older.
Make Sure You’re in the Pictures
When you go to a social gathering, ask friends to snap a candid photo of you with your kids if they find the right time. So often, moms are the ones behind the camera. Photos of you interacting with your kids are a good way to remember the underlying sweetness of these tiring days.
If there are other ways you capture your little moments, please share them in the comments. Hopefully you are on your way to being able to recognize, enjoy, capture, and savor the little moments of joy that are found in each day.