It seems like only last week that I was a stay-at-home mom to four small children. I would spent most of my days trying to adhere to a schedule to keep things running smoothly.

I remember getting up and fixing breakfast, and then the children would spent the rest of the morning playing with toys, watching cartoons or making an arts and craft project.

We did a lot of arts and craft projects. The children’s grandmother would always give each child a lot of art projects for Christmas. She would always put their names on the boxes so I would know who it belonged to once I got them all home.

Over the years, I have lost count of how many sun catchers that have been painted, how many sand projects have been created and how many “do it yourself” birdhouses we have built and painted.

At lunch time I would circle the children around the table, feed them and then it was time for a nap.

While the children were napping, I would spend that time pick up their toys and putting everything back in its place. I would get their clothes out for the next day too.

This was always a thought process because I would always color coordinate their clothes to match.

Every evening, dinner would be ready as soon as my husband got home. This way we could sit down and eat together as a family, and have the children tucked in for an early bedtime. This way I could go to bed early too.

Those were the days.

I miss the children being small, and I especially miss the toys scattered on the floor for me to pick up.

These days my children are all older, and closer to adulthood than being the toddlers they once were.

I have two teenagers in high school and two t’weens in middle school.

As the children have grown, it has changed from picking toys up off of the floor to picking clothes up off of the floor or reminding them the hamper is only a few feet from where they left the pile in the floor.

Four growing children means four stomachs that are “bottomless pits” when it comes to disposing of food.

Instead of begging them to eat their dinner, it is now the constant question of “what’s for dinner?” or “what’s for lunch?”

Sometimes I have to remind each of them that there are trashcans in their bedrooms. I will find several empty water bottles, drink cans or empty chip bags in their rooms on my daily walk through inspection.

The days of color coordinating their outfits are long gone. They choose their own clothing and somedays

I wish they were still little and I was dressing them. They love to walk out of the house with the “homeless” look, and I just shake my head.

The truth is I miss picking up the toys scattered on the floor. It seemed so much easier than the arm loads of clothes and other random things left lying around. But I know the days are coming when each will leave to be on the own.

So for now, I will be thankful for the clothes left in the floor.

Leslie Beachboard is Managing Editor of the Bertie Ledger-Advance, Chowan Herald, Perquimans Weekly and The Enterprise. She can be reached via email at lbeachboard@apgenc.com..