Sometimes, Karen and I reflect on what it was like before we had kids.

We had more money, more sleep, more time, more peace and quiet, more time together and less grey hairs.

Then six and a half years ago everything changed when our oldest son, Hayden was born.

All of a sudden, virtually every aspect of our lives was altered in some way, generally becoming more difficult.

Instead of just doing what we wanted when we wanted, we had to consider the needs of our little bundle of joy.

Meal-times got harder.  We had to consider healthier options that would encourage our brood to eat well and help them to establish habits that would fight off childhood obesity.  Not to mention the mess afterwards.

Recreation options got harder.  No longer could we waltz off to the footy or a movie on a whim.  Baby-sitters and nap-times needed to be considered, and more often than not, we gave up and just watched a DVD at home on the couch.

Going to church got harder.  We needed to take snacks, colouring-in books and anything else that would keep the tribe quiet during the service so that the rest of the congregation wasn’t distracted.

Going on holidays got harder.  The dream holiday has changed from an exotic overseas trip (with its expensive price-tag and 20 plus hour flight with 3 young children attached) to a couple of days at the local beach.  Even then, the dream is yet to become a reality.

Even leaving the house for a venture to the local shopping centre got harder.  It’s a military operation to get the kids dressed, the nappy bag packed and everyone in the car whilst considering nap-times, snack-times and when our little treasures are most likely to explode in rage in the middle of a packed department store.

But in the midst of all the challenges and perceived chaos, there are the other moments.

The moments that make it all worthwhile.

The moments when:

  • Our three year-old son, Logan, tells my wife how pretty she is.
  • Our six year-old son, Hayden, plays soccer with unbridled enthusiasm and joy, despite being the youngest player on the pitch by more than a year.
  • Our three year-old daughter, Madison, puts on a performance, singing and dancing to a new song that she’s just made up.
  • One of them beats me at a board-game and we both smile with pride at their achievement (even if they’ve been anonymously assisted).
  • They each repeat or act on an important principle that we’ve taught them.
  • They each take another step in their development, no matter how small or significant.
  • They interact so well together, playing nicely and expressing concern when one of them is hurt.
  • They continue to grow up, becoming more independent and making some aspects of life a fraction easier.

When we have children, I believe that there’s more meaning, more to live for and more opportunity to give and receive love.

The challenge for parents is to find the right thing to focus on.

If we only focus on the harder aspects, we’ll end up complaining all of the time and developing a negative mindset about our children.  We’ll start to trudge around the house with our shoulders slumped and a scowl on our faces.  Over time, our kids will notice this and it will impact their interactions with us and potentially damage their self-esteem.

If we focus on the good moments, we’ll feel proud of our children and their achievements.  We’ll look for ways to praise them and interact with them positively.  Our house will be less of a battleground and more of a fairground.  It will become a place of joy that will increase our opportunity to raise well-adjusted, resilient, positive children.

When you become a parent, everything becomes harder, but it’s also better.

Let me encourage you today to do all that you can to focus on the better aspects and make it a more positive experience.

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