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5 Pieces of Free Advice I'd Give to My Younger Self

5 Pieces of Free Advice I'd Give to My Younger Self

Wouldn’t we all like to go be able to go back in time and give ourselves advice? As we age, hopefully, we are growing in wisdom and becoming closer to God. As we draw near to Him, we grow spiritually and can better recognize our poor choices from the past. We use that knowledge to make informed decisions in the future.

What are the things you would like to tell your younger self in regards to parenting? Are there mistakes you’ve made and would like to reverse? Or would you just like to go back and sit in the room with your kids when they were little with their cute little squeaky voices and put them on your lap for a quick snuggle?

The saying, “the days are long but the years are short” is spot on when it comes to parenting. When you look back you can’t believe how fast the years have gone by, although each day can drag on.

Our cellphones pull up pictures from years ago and take us down memory lane. We look at our kids and wonder how they have gotten so big, so fast. Are we aging at the same rate? It doesn’t seem possible.

My kids have not left the house yet, but the diapers, sippy cups, and bottles are long gone. As I pondered the different stages we have been through, I discovered some advice to tell my younger self.  

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fizkes

  • 1. Relish the Small Moments

    1. Relish the Small Moments

    I’m not one to write down every little milestone. I don’t remember the last time the kids let me rock them, the day they last used a sippy cup. Those things just happen. One day you wake up and realize when was the last time my child asked me to pick them up?

    All of a sudden you look at them and think, can I even pick you up? Why are you almost as tall as me? Are you going to be able to pick me up soon?

    Infant and toddler days were some of the most challenging in my life. My kids are in school now and I work part-time. I look back at my days at home with all three kids, and it makes my day at the office seem relaxing.

    The days with young kids at home are long, exhausting, filled with repetitive tasks, dissatisfied customers, and more emotions than should be allowed in one house. 

    All that said, those moments are fleeting. I recognize and empathize with the challenges of early parenting, yet my advice would be to relish the small moments, to take advantage of those sweet opportunities to connect with that little one. 

    When you do get those precious moments to snuggle with a little one, try to enjoy them. Soak it in. Stay there just a moment longer and appreciate that simple, yet timeless treasure.

    My now eleven-year-old used to say, “hold you mommy” when she wanted to be picked up. Now I can barely pick her up if I tried because she’s almost as tall as me.

    Most of my favorite memories from when my girls were younger are not when we ventured out and did exciting activities. Those occasions usually stressed me out. Rather it was doing the simplest things at home that bring back the sweetest memories.

    Ordinary times like reading to them books while snuggled up in bed, or rocking them to sleep, or watching their joy and amazement as they explore life.

    Savor those special moments when you get them. 

    Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/x-reflexnaja

  • mom reading with her kids in a tent in bedroom

    2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    This is one that is easier said than done.

    Don’t sweat the small stuff…what is considered small? How can I turn a blind eye when my house looks like a bomb went off because a toddler has pulled out every toy in the house and refuses to clean them up?

    The crazy outfits they desire to wear seem outrageous at the time but as you look back, does it matter what they wore to the grocery store? No one else is going to remember the temper tantrum they had at the store, so don’t sweat it. Every parent has our war stories.

    When things parenting struggles haven’t felt so small, we have sought out the help of Christian counselors and certain parenting books. They guided us to pick our battles.

    Cynthia Tobias wrote a great book for raising strong-willed children called, “You can’t make me, (but I can be persuaded to).” Cynthia focuses on the importance of picking your battles. Determine the areas which are important to your family and hold firm to those. Let the other things go so you aren’t always in the midst of a battle.

    Safety is a good example of something you might choose to dig your heels in for. I remember many preschool mornings sitting in the driveway until my indignant preschooler would finally buckle herself into her five-point harness. I wasn’t allowed to help so I waited patiently (or probably not so patiently) for her to do it herself.

    On these mornings we were usually late for preschool but that was the price I was willing to pay.

    Or I remember the morning my daughter wanted to wear a summertime outfit to preschool in the middle of winter. I drew a line and she ended up not going to school that day.

    What are the things utterly important to you? Hold firm to those and let the rest go.

    Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

  • 3. Pray for Them and with Them

    3. Pray for Them and with Them

    I started praying for my kids, I mean seriously praying for them intentionally every day when my oldest daughter was in grade school. If I could go back, I would start earlier.

    I heard author and speaker Jodie Berndt speak about praying scripture over your kids. I went home, read her book (“Praying the Scriptures for Your Children”), and applied her philosophy instantly.

    I found Scripture and personalized it for each child and started repeating these prayers daily. I observed (over years) how verses can transform the hearts of my children.

    My three girls are eleven, nine, and six. Now, I pray for their future spouses every day. That might seem odd, but I pray they marry a man that loves the Lord and is being raised in a home that reads the Bible and seeks God’s will.

    My Aunt, a faithful woman, told me she began praying for her boy’s spouses before they were even born. Let me tell you, her boys married amazing faithful women from Christian homes. We can’t guarantee the outcomes of any of these situations, but why not at least lift up the desires of your heart. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

    Compared to my Aunt I got a late start praying for my kids and their spouses. I have seen first-hand the way prayers can transform a child’s character by praying for them daily.

    We have always done prayers at nighttime with our kids. Now, I start the prayers and let them take over so they can voice whatever is on their heart. I want to model and encourage them to lift up everything to God.

    My six-year-old will go on and on about life in her kindergarten class. She will pray that the Coronavirus will go away and that she can be close to her classmates again. I want to encourage her to continue this habit so when she leaves our house it’s second nature.

    I wish I had started these prayerful habits as a young mom, but I didn’t. The good thing is it’s never too late to start a healthy habit that can positively impact your family.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ThitareeSarmkasat

  • 4. Don’t Compare

    4. Don’t Compare

    It’s challenging to be a parent today. We have unlimited resources when it comes to the internet. We can look up great quick recipes at the drop of a hat. We can have groceries delivered to our door in a matter of hours.

    While all those modern-day conveniences are extremely helpful as a busy young mom. Here is my advice to my younger self and other young parents.

    Be extremely intentional about how you use your electronics and do everything you can not to compare yourself to your friends on social media. Getting into the habit of looking at everyone’s greatest hits can make you feel incompetent.

    It’s amazing how you might have had a great day with your little ones. Nothing too crazy but everyone is alive, you managed to get dinner on the table, and everyone is bathed. That’s a win!

    Then you look at Instagram and see your friend took her young children to the zoo, baked homemade cupcakes, and taught their child to ride a bike today. All of a sudden, your accomplishments are washed down the drain and you are wondering why you didn’t do something like that.

    When you compare your kids' athletic giftings to your neighbor’s kids, who seem to pick up everything so easily, all of sudden you are wondering why you didn’t sign your kids up for soccer when they were three, or better yet, two. It’s so easy to compare to others but it either makes us feel crummy or elevates us and puts someone else down.

    My advice to my younger self is to let my kids be who God made them be. Let them develop at their own pace. Most importantly, make sure you are checking in with God to secure your securing identity in Christ.

    When I am confident about God’s love for me, the enemy's comparison arrows won’t penetrate my shield of faith. “In all circumstances take of the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” (Ephesians 6:16)

    When a mom is constantly competing with everyone, it’s the family members who pay. Remember you are unique and special. God gave you specific gifts and talents, use them to serve your family and others. Don’t expect to have every talent ever offered.

    Take a moment before you click on that social media button. If you are in a healthy place where you can celebrate a friend’s accomplishments, then wonderful. However, if you are feeling unconfident (which is understanding after a long day of wiping bottoms), then don’t do it. Don’t even subject yourself.

    Remember, you are exactly how God wanted you to be. Your family is one of a kind. God put you here to learn certain things that will accomplish His goals. What we need to learn is going to be different than our friends. God wants us to seek His will and desires, no one else’s.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Radu Florin

  • mom and dad hugging young son kissing mom

    5. Trust God for Guidance

    I think we are all used to seeking guidance from friends, family, and others when we face challenges in our life. God put us in communities, so we don’t have to navigate this life alone.

    As great as all those resources might be, none are all-knowing. Even the wisest counselor falls short of all our divine God.

    Sometimes we forget this. I know I did many times. Yet every time I went to Him in prayer for guidance, He never failed me. If we were struggling with an educational need or a discipline situation, He always provided the resources I needed when I needed them.

    We have been blessed with many wise counselors, tutors, educational support, for all members of our families. We talk about the importance of these coaches in our lives and how they can support us in our journey (including mom and dad).

    I wish every time we had hit a speed bump, I turned to God first, but I didn’t. Most of the time I floundered around until eventually, I prayed for help. Why didn’t I turn to Him sooner?

    My biggest advice to my younger self would be to seek God’s advice first and foremost. Pray unceasingly for the challenges you are facing. Pray with your spouse as often as you can.

    Just as Philippians 4:6 tells us, “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

    God will answer our prayers. Sometimes it takes lots of patience, and the answers don’t always look like we expect.

    He has not left us alone to navigate this world without Him. He is with us every step of the way. We just have to remember that.

    We have an amazing God. Who better knows our children than the one who created them?

    Some parenting seasons are going to be tougher than others. Just when you feel like you have things figured out, you enter a new season, and you are back to square one. 

    I think the goal is to try and enjoy the season you are in, wherever that might be. Take one day at a time and be present in that moment. 

    God will get us through any challenge that is put in front of us not because of our strength, but rather because of His.

    The more we can lean on His infinite wisdom and love, the better off we will be. God will equip us with the tools necessary to accomplish His goals for our lives. He will give us the resources we need when we need them. Trust in Him. 

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Vasyl Dolmatov

    Katie Kennedy headshotKatie T. Kennedy lives in Richmond, VA. She is married to a wonderful husband Jonathan and they have three girls. She is a writer, blogger, and employee of the family business. After a mid-life spiritual transformation, she discovered her love of writing. She loves to travel, read, be in nature, cook, and dream.  She would love to connect with you online at www.katietkennedy.com, Instagram or Facebook.