Everyone Tells New Parents To Do This and Why They Need to Stop (3 minute read)

So parents or parents-to-be, do you ever hear that piece of advice, “Cherish these moments while your children are still young because, in a blink of an eye, they’ll be all grown up”

I’ll admit I've said something like this to other parents a bunch of times without even thinking about it. I’ve heard it from other parents (most often those with older children) so many times that it’s ingrained in my list of phrases to say during those dreaded small talk sessions.

Then I get the usual, “Oh time will fly by and before you know it, she’s talking back to you and asking for more data on her phone.” Or “it feels like yesterday they were in diapers and a hug would solve all their problems. It's like in a blink of an eye, they’re teenagers with so many bigger issues.” etc.

Well, fuck that because, in the last 18 months or so, time has been moving the speed that it is at. It feels like it’s been 18 months, not longer, not shorter, but precisely 18 months. It’s not flying by and it’s not crawling either. Why? I’m busy living in the moment with my daughter.

When she’s awake and I’m with her, I'm really with her. My attention is on her and I’m putting myself in her position, her perspective of the world and really trying to understand how it is like to be a toddler. I’m empathizing with her through every thought, feeling, every new experience, discovery, and sensation. I'm not thinking about the dishes or what to make for dinner or what show to watch on Netflix. I'm single-minded, at the moment, enjoying the simplicity and beauty she sees in the world. 

A minute in my daughter’s life relative to the number of minutes she’s been on earth is a huge percentage of time. A minute in my life relative to the number of minutes I’ve been on earth is a small percentage of time. So when I’m with her, side by side, analyzing the edges of a plastic toy, those minutes feel like hours just like it does for her.

20 minutes of toddler life immersion, my mind is Playdough and I need a break for some me time. I need to return to my fast-paced adult life where there are sharp corners to turn, enticing social media stories to indulge in and real-life conversations with friends to catch up on.

So when she’s safe, playing by herself, I take that moment to check my phone, get a few sips of coffee in, read a paragraph in my book, write a few sentences in my blog or whatever I feel like I can do in a few minutes. She knows I’m not focusing on her. She knows I’m not giving her attention. She whines and makes a fuss. So what? I’ve just spent what seems like 20 hours living life as a toddler. I need and deserve that small moment for myself where time actually flies.

I will quickly check to see she’s not grabbing a knife or something and I finish that text message. I finish reading that paragraph. I put a period in that sentence and I swallow that sip of coffee. She’s fine and dandy. Once I’m up for slow motion toddler world, I put everything aside (physically and mentally) and I’m in her world all over again.

The cycle of entering and returning to those fast and slow-paced worlds have balanced out the speed at which my life is moving. That is why 18 months feels like 18 months. 

Becoming a parent has muted the effect of ageing on my perception of time. It's like how the older you get, the faster time seems to move since time is perceived as a fraction of how long someone has lived. So as a parent, I get this opportunity to slow time down so that my life doesn't just happen in the blink of an eye. 
"It’s about balancing how much time I spend in each world so that time neither flies or crawls." 
However, if I put 100% of my attention and focus on my daughter every minute of every day, time will swell up like a pregnant woman’s cankles and the days will seem like weeks. I'll want to shoot myself. 

I’m not old enough to want time to feel that slow. For the sake of my sanity, I give myself moments to live in real time. It’s about balancing how much time I spend in each world so that time neither flies nor crawls.

So to those who tell me to savour these moments, rest assured, I already do.

For parents with older children who enjoy giving that piece of unsolicited advice, try and do some self-reflection:

Did you not live in the moment with your children when they were growing up? Were you constantly living in your adult world (thinking about work, doing dishes, laundry, dinner etc), popping your head up every so often just to make sure they were safe? 

Instead of assuming all new parents will do the exact same thing that you did, why don’t you go talk to your kid now and try to live your life through their eyes? Time might just move a little slower for you and you can make up for what was once lost.

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