“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flown. How did it get so late so soon?” (Dr Seuss)
In a couple of months my eldest daughter will celebrate her 14th birthday. Wow, 14! When I think about it, it just seems crazy! Hang on, how did we even get here?
I can remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. And in the same way I imagine tomorrow, knowing within the blink of an eye, she’ll be an adult moving on to start an independent life of her own with her siblings not far behind. Oh how bittersweet that thought is!
I’m the first to say that this whole parenting thing hasn’t been the easiest gig. And from my years as a high school teacher, I know (my goodness, I know too well) that the teenage years are only going to bring on more ‘interesting bumps’ along this road.
People always tell you to stop and re-focus every now and then. I admit, it’s one of my ‘work-in progress’ goals. To remember, although the worst of days seem like an eternity, the years really do fly by. I need to set a persistent mental reminder to not get bogged down by it all. How do I want to remember this time in our lives? How do I want my kids to remember this time? What I don’t want is to look back with regret or disappointment. Instead I want to be (and hope to be) providing my kids with as many opportunities as possible to create positive, long lasting memories.
Sounds great in theory, I know. Easier said than done and all of that. So how do you do so, one without breaking the bank and two, so that it becomes a regular occurrence.
Sure we’ve been lucky enough to take the kids on a number of family vacations and they often talk about the skiing in Thredbo, the Dolphins we watched frolic around our tour boat in Port Stephens and especially the theme parks on the Gold Coast. Just like the kids, we also wish we can have these holidays more often, but it’s just not possible. There’s getting time off work and school and of course the growing expense of it all.
So what do you do?
My husband and I have figured it’s so much more about the simple things. Really as simple as time, with a lot less ‘I’m too busy,’ ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘maybe next time.’
When I ask my kids what their favourite thing to do on a weekend is, more often than not, they’ll respond with one of two things: a movie/board games night or to take their bikes out for a ride.
As in many families, learning to ride a bike is a special rite of passage. I distinctly remember the moments they first get on a tricycle, barely able to reach the pedals, to moving onto a two-wheeler with training wheels. Then before I knew it, and the most memorable moment of all, removing those training wheels and watching their faces as they realise they have the ability to balance and ride all on their own!
Bike riding has grown to be one our favourite family activities. We all really enjoy it and make sure we do so at least once a month.
Last weekend, we reached (just) above 20º weather in Sydney (which was such a delight with all the cold snaps of late) so really perfect to get out ‘n’ about.
The kids are now quite confident riders but they are still young, so we prefer the off-road paths at Sydney’s Bicentennial Park in Homebush. It’s kid friendly cycle paths is what first took us there but we also get to enjoy the ride through beautiful surroundings from Lake Belvedere to the Badu Mangroves. So double bonus!
Most of the time we take a packed picnic. It’s guaranteed that when the kids get tired of the riding they’re bound to say, ‘I’m hungry!’ Plus it’s the perfect way to end our day and gives us time to catch our breath before we head back home. And I’ll be honest, more time away from their tablets, phones, iPads and TV can never be overdone.
This last weekend it seemed Sydney boasting sunny blue skies gave many others the same idea. As we chat and snack on some yummy food (Falafel, salad, tahini yoghurt on Lebanese bread) we watch in the distance as a couple say their vows, a family celebrate a birthday to our left, a sweet elderly couple read a book together just ahead, more bike riders going by, kids flying a kite and another group throwing a frisbee around.
Before we know it, the colours in the sky begin to change to warm reds and tones of orange creating a glistening, translucent blanket over the Lake.
Th sun is starting to set and it’s time to get packing.
We were having such an enjoyable time.
A familiar thought echoes… how did it get so late so soon?