My daughter turned 4 today. Every parent can attest that it goes by SOOOOO quick. Your kids grow up and while you are excited to have them the age they are, you also look back with semi-sadness at what already passed.
Most parents certainly try to get "the most" out of every moment with their kids. However, realistically we all know that the stresses and busyness of life can sometimes take away from the energy that you should dedicate to your kids. I'm guilty of this, but I also try to take time to reflect and to, as-much-as-possible, look at the big-picture of the limited amount of time that you get to spend with your kids and take advantage accordingly. Here are a few tips that I try to keep in mind, although as I'm writing these, I'm thinking I'm guilty of often NOT doing these - but I should be!!!
-Try to look at every moment with your kids as a moment that you would take a photo of...then look at years later. You know the feeling of "awww...I wish they were that young again" that you get when you look at photos now...try to remember that when spending time with the kids NOW so you can look back and remember that you weren't "lost in the moment" and that you realized how precious that time was.
-If you have infants/toddlers, try to remember - YOU ARE ALL THEY HAVE! Their world revolves around YOU! Chances are, you interact with a lot of people over the course of a day. Your young children oftentimes don't interact with as many people...they mainly interact with YOU!
-Is it really THAT big of a deal? Your kid draws with crayon on the wall. Spills the milk. Tips over the bookshelf. It's happened to EVERY kid and EVERY parent. Guess what? You are probably not ever going to remember it by tomorrow, so why get that upset at it today??
-Make ordinary moments special. My wife does an awesome job of this. The other day, my daughter wanted a cup of hot cocoa, so I made it for her. Her younger brothers wanted a cup then, too. So I made it for them. As all 3 of them were sitting on the couch watching cartoons (a "moment" I probably missed - see above) my wife walks into the room and says in a very excited tone "It's a Hot Cocoa Party...yay!!!" and the kids all started smiling/clapping and yelling "yay!!" along with her. Little things like that make me smile.
Please don't take this the wrong way - I am FAR from the perfect parent and I'm not trying to preach to you at all, but just some tips that I thought would be good to look over from time-to-time for busy parents.
Here is a picture of my 4-year-old daughter, with her first "jewelry" (Princess Sophia from Disney Jr.) that she was SO excited to wear. Kinda a scary glimpse into the future!