Mum's the Word: Put the phone down and cherish family time before the kids grow up

My daughter Joan turned eight at the beginning of May and I have been struggling a bit with it ever since. 

It feels like a big number and she seems very much like a big girl. It felt much more significant than her fifth, sixth or even her seventh birthday.

I’ve talked about this with some friends who have kids older than eight and they all say they remember eight being a big one.

One friend suggested it is because they are now half way through primary school and they start second class in September, which shocked met. 

Another friend thought maybe I’m more conscious of it as she is my only child and there are no more eighth birthdays coming up and I think she may have a point.

I’ve confided in friends I have felt needy since her birthday. 

I have always been lucky that she and I spend a lot of time together because of my working week, but since her birthday I have wanted even more time. 

It’s like I am imagining what she will be like when she is 12, 16 or 21. I find myself looking for extra hugs and squeezes when I collect her from school; although she doesn’t always want them or have time for them before she is off with pals discussing the days events.

Or I am consciously carving out more mom and daughter trips and fewer playdates. And making more time at home for reading, board games or baking.

Since her birthday I have tried to be offline more. To put the phone down until after bedtime. Or if I have to look at it, don’t stay on it. 

I want to have as many memories of playing with Joan while she is little as I can. After all I’m not going to cherish that time I checked Instagram for the millionth time.

Another reason why eight has hit me is because the things that Joan does on her own outweigh the things she needs help with now. She can make her own breakfast (when she puts her mind to it). 

She likes to go and pay for things on her own in shops (with my card). 

She is most definitely asking more grown up questions and we are talking about more grown up things and ideas more.

Something else that has changed only in recent weeks is she also is thinking about the future much more now, like where she would like to travel too and things she would like to learn to do. 

As in almost without maybe fully realising it, setting herself goals.

I am trying to make decisions for her a collaborative thing. When she was younger, to get around this, we would obviously let her make choices, but based on things we discussed.

Like it was her choice if she wanted 10 minutes of TV and one story before bed or five minutes of TV and two stories. 

Or which two vegetables she wanted for dinner. But now I have widened it out a bit and have asked her to make choices without me setting up as many guidelines first. 

It has worked out sometimes and other times I have walked myself into problems.

So eight is big, I think it is an age whereby kids are maturing at such a fast rate and that as Joan’s parent I have to learn to go with it while supporting her. 

I have to learn to be a bit quicker with the fast firing questions, to be a bit more reasonable when she wants something her way and to be clearer on encouraging her independence. 

Ultimately I will always want dozens of hugs, I might just have to accept I will have to wait sometimes to get them.

It’s like I am imagining what she will be like when she is 12, 16 or 21

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