I recently had a baby - as in just a few weeks ago. This is my 3rd child, so it is not the first time I have been through the newborn phase. With all the struggles that come along with having a new child - no sleep, breastfeeding vs bottle feeding, lots of hormones and adjusting to a new family member - there are so many magical moments. I find that when I hold my newborn I look at her with love, tenderness and excitement, but I also experience sadness. Not as in the baby blue sadness, but more of a longingness to keep her this little forever. I know she is growing up and this time is so fleeting. In just a few weeks she will no longer be a "newborn," but a baby, then a toddler, then a kid, tween, teenager and pretty soon adult. Sure those adult years are still years away, but somehow I still worry that I will not cherish the moment enough; that I will miss an important milestone, smile, laugh or giggle. I feel the same way about my 3-year-olds. They are at a precious age that I wish I could freeze in time. I know that is not possible, so how do I make sure I am living in the moment instead of just passing through this phase of life? Here are a few things I can try.
Take lots of pictures
This seems like a pretty obvious thing to do, especially with our social media-obsessed world, but with all the things going on in life sometimes we forget to take some important pictures. I'm not just talking about the milestone moments, but ones of every little thing. Her little tiny toes and feet, when she yawns, holds your finger in her tiny hands, and pictures of her with every member of your family. Don't stop at pictures; take videos as well. Make sure you save them somewhere safe so you can look back at them for years to come. You can even create a photo book to easily look at them with your children. Digital photo books do not take long to put together online, and there are a lot of sites that create photo books for you; all you have to do is upload them to your computer. Shutterfly is a good example.
Live in the moment
While taking pictures is a great way to capture your memories, don't get so preoccupied with capturing the moment that you forget to experience it. Sometimes you just have to let your mind record what is happening. Take a moment to observe all the sights, sounds and smells. Those sensory factors can help record memories. In the future when you smell the baby lotion you always put on your baby or hear the song you sang to her every night, you will be taken back to that moment. Create those memories now, so in years to come you can experience them again.
Look forward to the future
Don't be too sad to lose the present moments, because the future is exciting. Yes you love the stage your child is in now, but every new stage brings new joys along with it. Hearing her first words, watching her first steps, even sending her off to her first day of school, teaching her how to drive and seeing the person she grows into are things to look forward to. Another good thing about the future is if there is a stage she is in now that you do not like, like not sleeping through the night, the terrible twos or potty training, you can know those phases come to an end. Cherish the hard times, as they will help you appreciate the good times, but know with the ever-progressing passing of time you will get a whole new stage to look forward to.
Spend one-on-one time with your child
I find with my newborn I get lots of time for just the two of us; it comes every couple of hours when I nurse her. I try really hard to make sure I am not trying to multitask while feeding her so I can have those moments with just the two of us. It is a time we can bond and connect. With my 3-year-olds it is a little harder to carve out alone time, but it is still something important to do, especially with a new baby. They need to know that they are just as important to me as always. The moments you create when you are alone together are precious and lasting. Make it a priority and give them 100 percent of your attention when you spend time together.
Tell them about when they were little
Another great way to relive the memories you are experiencing now is to tell your kids about them as they grow older. My toddlers do not believe the pictures I have of them as babies are actually them. They think they are pictures of our new baby. When I explain that they were that little once they laugh and think it's funny that they were babies too. It is exciting to show them their baby pictures, tell them about things they did when they were that little and have them experience having a new baby in the house. It makes our time with our new baby even more exciting.
These are just a few ways to cherish the moment just a little bit longer. The most important thing to keep in mind is even though this is the busiest time of your life, it is vital to stop and take in what is happening around you. Don't speed through life or spend your time wishing a phase away. Enjoy the moment.