By Shannon Burghart

Happy New Year to all! I am so excited right now that I have to write about it! My oldest niece just found out she got into her top pick college! I’m so stinking proud I want to shout it to everyone! But this pride is mixed with a whole bunch of awe over how quickly she’s grown up. How can it possibly be that MY baby is going to college? Yes, yes, I know she’s not really mine, but since I was in college when she was born, I had many years with her before I had kids, so she’s always felt a bit like mine!

As she’s been going through the visits and application and waiting, I have been thinking about my sister going through all of the “lasts” this year…last first day of school photo, last homecoming, last summer all together, etc. It has made me realize in a very concrete way how quickly they grow up.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, some random person at a restaurant told me “The days are long, but the years are short.” I didn’t think much of it until grumbling one day about what a long day it had been with my newborn and then again when she turned one so quickly. Yes, some days with young children can be forever long, but as I am witnessing now, the years are so short. Can you believe today begins 2013?!?!?

So, what do we do with this knowledge — I know we all know it, but when it becomes concrete you want to do something. So, here’s what I’ve decided I’m doing. I’m changing my mindset. Every age and every stage that children go through has good and bad, this is not news to anyone. I always seem though to focus on the challenging parts—why is he screaming everything at me, why can’t she just be happy with what she has, when will they ever start listening to me, etc.

Now though, with the start of this new year, I am challenging myself to focus on the positive of each phase. My son may be making me crazy with his constant noise, inability to listen, and need to do all things in his own time; however, he also has great energy, beautiful ideas and is becoming more independent. So, next time I’m ready to lose my patience, I’m going to try to focus instead on the joy and wonder that fills him. As my daughter cries over absolutely ever perceived injustice, I’m going to remember that it’s her kind heart and need for life to be fair that will make her a good friend and person throughout life.

Now, to be real, I will not be walking around like Little Miss Sunshine telling you all about how perfect my kids are or enjoying every moment of parenting –that’s just not me or reality! However, I am going to make an effort to really focus on the good of each stage, remember how fast it goes and enjoy each stage (if not each moment)!

What about you? What stage are your kids in and what joy can you find in it?

*Enter our giveaway here to win $200 worth of prizes of your choice!!