My mother was a teacher. She told me many, many times that the first 5 years of a child's life were the most important. I knew what she meant; that those years are when children are most impressionable. However, I don't think I fully understood until many years later.


Because at the time my children were young, I was juggling way too many plates! To keep them all in the air meant running at full speed, wide open, 7 days a week. Because my husband and I had 5 children, these parenthood years seemingly alternated between speed dial and a snail's pace. The children grew faster than the speed of light and the mountains of laundry never dwindled no matter how many loads I washed every day.

Now I am a grandmother and I watch my daughter juggling plates. So far she's doing extremely well, but she only has one child — number 2 will be here in June. With each child it gets a little harder to do everything we think we have to do.

If you stop and think about it, our time with our children is very limited. The older they get the more society and the world pulls them away from us. It starts when they go to school then progresses when they begin playing sports and attending school activities. Before you know it, they are going to sleep overs, talking on cell phones, driving cars, and packing their bags for college. That's why the first 5 years of a child's life are so critically important.

But really, how important are those first 5 years? Notice what the website, Facts for Life tells us:

Recent research confirms that the first five years are particularly important for the development of the child's brain, and the first three years are the most critical in shaping the child's brain architecture. Early experiences provide the base for the brain's organizational development and functioning throughout life. They have a direct impact on how children develop learning skills as well as social and emotional abilities.

If my mother were still alive I know she would be shaking her head and saying, "See, I told you so!"

One thing I am proud about my mothering days is the fact that my husband and I took our children to church every Sunday and Sunday night unless someone was sick. Believe me, getting 5 children to church is no easy feat. There were many Sundays when we'd burst into church 5 minutes late (we lived right across the road) and I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman (I was a crazy woman). I always did a check after we got seated to make sure everyone was dressed (don't laugh, I once wore my dress backwards and another time found an electric roller in my hair). Often I found that one of the twins had on two left shoes and the other the two right ones. My life felt like a 3 ring circus but on Sundays, well you knew where we would be.

But the thing is, Sunday isn't enough. Remember those 5 years I told you about? The truth is, 1 day a week isn't enough to fight off what the world will expose them to when they are older.

Alas, I can't go back in time and there is no magic wand.
Oh, we said prayers at night and blessings at meal times, but too many times I let the daily tasks of living overpower my commitment to God and my family.

I wish I could do those years over. If I were given a magic wand and told that I could change 2 things about those years I know what they would be:


I would make Bible reading and study a part of every day for the whole family. I am guilty of studying by myself, doing my own devotional, and not insisting that we all sit down as a family and study together. That's the number 1 thing I wish I could change.

And second...

I would turn the television off and leave it off. In fact, I wouldn't have one in the house until the children were at least 10 or older. The temptation to use it as a babysitter is too great. Some children become addicted to it and learn to prefer it over reading. Children are exposed to things that no child should see before they are adults (if then). Even commercials are no longer safe. It used to be that during early evening hours shows and commercials were children friendly. No longer. There is nothing off limits at any hour, not even feminine products or condoms.

Call me old fashioned. Say what you will. I strongly believe that television has corrupted family time and is tarnishing our children's and grandchildren's innocence.

Alas, I can't go back in time and there is no magic wand. I do, however, have grandchildren and more on the way. Now that I'm juggling fewer plates, I find it much easier to find the time to talk to my grandchildren about Jesus, read the Bible with them, and pray together. Time with them is a blessing that I don't take for granted, especially their first 5 years!

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV).