Being a parent is arguably one of the toughest, most rewarding jobs an individual will ever have. Kids demand a lot of time and attention from the moment they are born, and it’s a parents’ job to make sure their children are loved and cared for, fed, challenged, protected, educated and everything in between. The first few years of a child’s life are exceptionally demanding, and parents often find themselves operating on little sleep, with no shortage of things to worry over and stress about. 

I can’t tell you the amount of times other parents came up to me when my kids were younger, and said something along the lines of, “Don’t blink,” or, “Time flies.” We’ve all heard that phrase, but in this case, parents were insinuating that time would flash before me so quickly that before I knew it, my kids would be grown. 

Those people were right. 

During a recent family vacation, I found myself feeling very nostalgic as I watched another couple of families hang out in the pool. In my kids’ younger years, we would often play in the pool together –  throwing a football, flipping the kids in the air, or diving for torpedoes. It was practically impossible to pull them from the pool when nap times commenced or lunch was ready. My wife and I were the center of our kids’ universes, and all they ever wanted to do was spend time with us.  

Inevitably, I blinked, and here I was with teenagers who no longer wanted to spend all day in the pool with their parents, but rather, wanted to spend time in the hotel room. Their lives were filled with friends, school, extra-curricular activities, and other priorities that crowded their universe. When my kids and wife went off to the hotel room, I was left at the pool watching other families with kids who still wanted to play and hang out with their parents. Despite being alone, I felt incredibly happy seeing other parents spending quality time with their young ones, and I started recollecting on all the memories I had of my kids when they were younger. 

Don’t get me wrong; every new phase a child goes through is fun and exciting. Watching your children grow up and mature is such a blessing, but as I sat there wishing for more time with my kids when they were little, I also found myself feeling incredibly grateful that I had such wonderful memories and opportunities with my kids. As a society, technological advances have made it near impossible to separate work from your personal life and vice versa. We’re “on” all the time; work never really stays in the office. 

Take my advice. When you clock in for your work shift, give it everything you can. Work hard; dream big, and find a way to win every single day. However, when you walk through those doors at home, find a way to put the work aside and just be with your family. Life is messy and fast. Whether it’s vacation, a special event or family dinner, be present. Otherwise, you may blink and find yourself wishing you could have that time back.