I turn 40 this week.  While I’m older, I’m certainly not wiser, but there are a few things I wish I could tell my younger self.

Age 4: Go to sleep! Take all the naps. Go to bed when your parents tell you to. You will be happier and more pleasant to be around. And not coincidentally, so will your parents. Do you know what I would give right now to be able to take a nap at noon every day?

Age 16: Be kind. To your parents, who are going through a divorce while balancing two full-time jobs, a mortgage, saving for your college education and trying to keep you happy and well-adjusted. To your peers. There’s a lot that goes on behind closed doors that you know nothing about. To yourself. While it may seem important now, today’s failed test or clothing crisis won’t follow you around forever. It gets better, trust me.

Age 25: Take the leap. Go back to school for that graduate degree. Move to the city you’ve always dreamed about. Take the trip around the world. You don’t always get a second chance. It’s a lot easier now to take that big risk than when you have a mortgage, a full time job and kids. Oh, and maybe drink a bit less…

Age 30: You are not tired. And you are not busy. Stop complaining that you are tired and busy to everyone that pretends to care, especially to your friends with young children. Relish in sleeping late and lazy Sundays. You will soon long for the days you were “so tired and so busy” because you had to get up before 10am on a Saturday. Cue eye roll…

My advice to myself as I turn 40 is to slow down and enjoy the journey. Stop crossing things off checklists and start experiencing them. Stop obsessing over what “needs” to get done and soak in the snuggles and laughter and dirty dishes. Stop waiting for “this phase” to pass and triumph in its challenges and milestones and sweet moments. “This phase” will pass all too soon.

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