What would you change if you had it to do all over again?

(Editor’s Note: My brother is doing better but is still critical and in ICU. They were able to take out the balloon pump in his heart and his new heart is pumping on its own! They are hoping to take out the ventilator soon — another major step! My throat is sore so I wasn’t able to see him last night. I can’t decide if I have a cold or if it’s from sleeping under a vent in the hospital waiting room for several nights. I’m hoping I can see him today! He should be more aware and less drugged up! I appreciate all our community pitching in during this time of crisis.)

Our guest blogger today is DB, and she sent in a great one! Here’s what she wrote:

Well, I’ve reached that stage of my life where my children are young adults.  I’m less of a “mom” and more of a “life coach on call.”  I am sending my youngest, my daughter, off to college in six weeks, and at that point, I will not have anyone to shake out of bed in the morning, no one to fix breakfast for, no laundry to sort, no Scout projects to cheer on, no school band concerts to attend, no school memos to read and no eyeing of the clock to check when they will be home for the evening.

She will be launched on her way to full adulthood, free to determine the direction of her own life — and free to make the same mistakes we all did at that age.  I don’t worry about her — well, not much! — and having already been through this with my son, who will be a college junior next year, I’m feeling pretty confident of her ability to find her way.

However, I find myself looking back at this period of my life — as the new mom of an infant, growing right along with them to the mother of young adults — and I wish there were a few things I had done a little differently:

1. I would not have obsessed over organic, homemade baby food.  The entire family still laughs at my pathetic homemade organic birthday cake for my son’s first birthday, an apple cake with cream cheese frosting that could have doubled as a doorstop.  Subsequent cakes were lavish with icing!

2. I would have finished my daughter’s baby book.

3. I would have kept up the scrapbooks, and not been so obsessed with perfection that the scrapbooks were never made at all.  (It still remains a prospective project, though — I am nothing if not optimistic!)

4. More giggling.  My husband ended up being “the fun one,” and I always envied his spirit of fun and playfulness.

5. I wish I had worked harder to help my kids develop a relationship with my parents, who live far away and aren’t a big part of their life.  Time is growing short, and I’m sorry my kids don’t have the same kind of relationship with my parents that I did with my grandparents.

6. I wouldn’t have obsessed so much about my kid’s school progress in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade.  I now realize that development is all over the board in those years. They did just fine, and have the scholarships to prove it.

7. I would have encouraged more family service projects.  They did many through church, but as a family, not so much. We all seem to do our own thing with our own volunteer interests, but we missed something, a certain esprit de corps by not volunteering as a family.

8. I would have gotten a dog much earlier!

No matter what stage of parenthood you’re at, I think we all look back, think about what we’ve learned, and wish we had done some things differently. What are some things you wish you had done differently? 

38 comments Add your comment


July 1st, 2009
7:24 am

I have nothing to contribute here, but just wanted to say, nice post, DB!


July 1st, 2009
7:50 am

Oh DB, I’m right there with you sister!!! I’m sending my one and only off to college in 6 weeks. It’s always just been the two of us (and numerous animals), and now it’s just going to be me (and said animals)……no one to wake up for school, fix breakfast for, and drive to school. No reason to rush home to cook dinner, and help with homework.

With one hand, I’m pushing her out the door, and with the other hand, I’m pulling her back in……this is very difficult. But I’m so looking forward to driving her down to college, and setting up her room. We have slowly been purchasing dorm items…..which is a lot of fun.

On the bright side, however, I get to finally sleep in a little bit. I have been getting up at 5:30 for the last 4 years, and now I don’t have to get up until 6:30, 6:45.

I’m thinking about either going back to school, or getting a part time job. But that won’t be right away, I have plans to do things around the house. My daughter made the comment, oh now that I’m moving out, you are fixing the house up. Well, now I have a little bit of money I can spend on ME!!!!


July 1st, 2009
8:01 am

DB…..great topic! Little E is only 4 but sometimes I think about things that I am doing (or not doing) that 15 years from now I will reflect on and think ,”I wish I had done this/or not this.” She will be our only child so my husband and I are careful about our choices with her. We try to say or do things that we won’t regret later or wish we had done differently. Darius Rucker has a song called “It Won’t Be Like This For Long.” The song turns me into a crying, sobbing hot mess, but I think of that song often when she is being a stinker or won’t go to bed or whatever. I remind myself to enjoy every moment (even the tough ones) because I won’t ever get them back and before long I will be the one sending her off to college!


July 1st, 2009
8:08 am

Kathy: Interesting comment – “She will be our only child so my husband and I are careful about our choices with her.” What choices are you referring to? Do you think that people with multiple kids are less careful of their choices? I tried to phrase that as unconfrontationally (is that a word?!) as possible, because I am honestly interested in what choices you are referring to and how you see your choices as different from parents with more than one child.


July 1st, 2009
8:09 am

DB you made me cry. A tough thing to do.


July 1st, 2009
8:13 am

Nice post – very sweet!

Jesse's Girl

July 1st, 2009
8:31 am

DB….I actually sat at my desk and clapped for your post! If a small tear escaped …..I’ll never tell:) I am already where you are. I am hyper-aware of the silly things that I have a tendency to worry about. I too fret over the memories I want them to so desperately make. I have actually stopped the oldest…she’s 12…in the middle of an exceptional moment and begged her to red-flag this event in her life! She looks at me like I’m crazy as a loon….and I am….but I do ask myself if I am doing all I can to instill an appreciation for the little things. I hope I am.

I write them letters…all 3 of them..on each of their b-days. I outline all the cool memories I have made as their mom in the last year…how much I love them. I have given the girls a box to keep them in. For now…I will hold on to The Boy’s.

I worry most about keeping my word. I think I am pretty good about it. But its the small promises we make as parents that can sometimes get lost in schedules and practices….meetings and business trips. My biggest fear as a mom is that when they are grown they will look back and think….”Where were you for_____?” That is a regret I hope to avoid at all costs. Thank you for this AWESOME post DB!! Good morning all…..going to make chocolate chip biscuits for my goobers!!!


July 1st, 2009
8:37 am

Well, I don’t have a child in high school yet (one in middle, one in elementary school) but there are a few things I would do differently.

1. I would let them participate more in doing their scrapbooks. In hindsight, I think I would have enjoyed more seeing the progression as they both matured.

2. I would insist we have Family Fun night on a night other than Fridays.

3. I would have definitely giggled more. I too am not the “fun” one.

4. I too would make the more conscious of community service. They do get it from church, but it is equally important, I think, that they also get it from home.

As I sit here (having finished a good cry) I realize that it is not too late to make the changes I have written about. So, with today, life again starts anew. I have already told my boss I am leaving early today!


July 1st, 2009
8:47 am

What a great topic! My kids are not going off to college yet (one has not even started school) but the oldest will be in high school soon and the time is flying by.

I am right there with you on the scrapbook/baby book thing. I collect things and take tons of pictures so, like you, I am optimistic that it will get done one day. I joke that I will finally have time to do it once all the kids are in college and I am in the old foks home.

I would also like to go back and relax a little with the oldest. I worried so much and put so much pressure on myself and her when she was small. She has turned into an ambitious, motivated young woman, but I wish she would relax some times.

I will probably agree with many of the other posts today. I also know that, in the long run, most of the things I would change don’t really matter in the end. They are more in lines of what I now think a “good” mom should do instead of what kids really need.

DB, It sounds like you have raised happy, independent young adults who are prepared to take on the world. Isn’t that what we are all really trying to do?


July 1st, 2009
8:51 am

What a great post and something we all should think about -often! I am fairly new to motherhood -a 3 year old and an 8 month old -but already there are a few things I definitely would do differently (and I’m implementing that with the baby and remediating it with the 3 year old). I think it’s really important that we don’t get caught up in working ourselves over about our choices and actions with our kids (unless we’ve done something horribly abusive or harmful). I used to always say I lived life with no regrets, but as I’ve aged I’ve realized that a truly well-lived life has some regrets. I mean, if you put yourself out there and have to make choices there are bound to be a few choices you wish you hadn’t made! Raising a child is bound to cause a few regrets in there somewhere! So, here (so far) are the things I would do differently from the start:

1. Choose your battles. Don’t get sucked into being a harda** about discipline, rules, etc. On the flip side -don’t be a doormat either. This is a hard one for you new parents! I’ve never been of the mind that we “don’t say no” in our house or “little johnny is just expressing himself” as he tears a house or store apart, but I also haven’t been in the school of spanking, screaming, jumping on a kid’s every mistake, etc. However, lately I’ve found myself in that second category. I have an EXTREMELY willful 3 year old. His “terrible twos” started at about 2.5 when I was pregnant and are on-going. I have really taken a step back lately because being harsh with him exacerbates the problem, and realized that you really have to choose your battles when raising kids -especially the stubborn ones that are wild little hellions! There are lots of approaches to discipline and not everything works for every kid. I wish I had done this almost a year ago when this behavior really started.

2. Don’t volunteer for every single thing. When some of us have children part of what we’ve looked forward to are bake sales and fall festivals and birthday parties and Easter egg hunts. HOWEVER, while it’s great to be involved, be careful about being sucked into every single event and taking on too much. It will ruin the event for you and burn you out! PLEASE don’t be a parent who never so much as bakes a batch of cookies for an event (even though you show up to everything), but learn how to say no! Taking too much time with the events means that you lose valuable time with your kids either because you’re busy planning or you’re too busy at the event to enjoy it with your kids.


July 1st, 2009
8:54 am

I like to look back and think I did a pretty good job with my child. We are close, and we do a lot of things together. I just wish I hadn’t yelled so much.

My daughter and I created so many memories together. We have traveled a lot, her first airplane trip was when she was 5 weeks old. I have been fortunate enough (with the help of my Mom) to have been able to take her to places like California, Utah, Colorado, Alaska, The Bahamas, NUMEROUS trips to the beach, etc. Not to mention all the little birthday trips, and little weekend get-aways we took.

I figured since her father left and she has no real memories of him, that I would try and make her life as special as I could and give her memories like my parents gave me. And she has two cousins who are like sisters to her. She just currently building a relationship with her older half-sister, so that’s cool too.

I just hope that when she is away from me at school, that she makes the right choices. I know she will stumble along the way, didn’t we all? But I believe you learn from your mistakes and go on.


July 1st, 2009
9:24 am

JATL — Your post reminded me of a quote from a favorite author, Lois McMasters Bujold: “Perfection takes no risks with itself.” To complicate matters further, it’s easy to be a “perfect” parent, but what’s “perfect” for one child is probably not “perfect” for a different child!

JJ — My husband has planned many amazing family trips — Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier National Park, the Northeast, Bermuda, etc. Even on those years when money was verrrry tight, he planned something, which was a series of day trips planned with the grandparent’s house as home base, because he, like you, feels so strongly about building memories for our kids.


July 1st, 2009
9:24 am

Theresa…I’m glad to hear your brother is continuing to improve! He will feel MUCH better without the ventilator! Something to keep in mind, hearing is the last sense that leaves us at death and one of the first ones we gain at birth (that is why they say if an infant has had hearing for even a week and goes deaf, they will be able to speak and be understood). My point being this, even if your brother is not awake, he can still hear you and your family talking to him! Continue to encourage him and fill his mind with images of things that are happening!

OK…on to today’s topic! DB, great post! My little one is only 6 and I’m still trying to figure out what to do most of the time! One thing I would change is to try to play outside with him a lot more!

We do a lot of things together, but it’s still nice to just let loose and play like a kid again! I too need to “catch up” on his baby book. Where does the time go? It is so time consuming though, and I’d rather spend that time with him!

I have to keep reminding myself that his childhood is only going to be lived once and I should help him make the most of it!

One thing I wonder if I would change is moving down to GA. We moved here to be close to his brothers, but sometimes I wonder if he would have been better staying home with family and friends? I think I would be a happier person, in turn leading to making him happier.

It doesn’t matter at this point because it’s already done. I know he loves his brothers and will always have a bond with them. I guess I accomplished that, but now he has minimal bonds with the rest of his extended family.

Oh well, we are not perfect. Thanks DB! I hope you enjoy getting your daughter off to school!


July 1st, 2009
10:02 am

As for the grandkids that just turned 7 yesterday, I wouldn’t change much..We take them to nice restaurants so they know how to behave..We let them make choices and they have a say in anything that we do..I do this for them because as some on here know I don’t have children, so I’m making up for that with these two..

I hope that everyone just doesn’t get to upset over things that they did (or think they did) wrong…With children, some of the things that one mother thinks is wrong, another mother thinks is right..

DB, great topic..

Jesse's Girl

July 1st, 2009
10:16 am

In the spirit of making memories…..does anyone have any suggestions of things to do today in or out of the perimeter? With the 4th looming….there has to be something fun to do!


July 1st, 2009
10:25 am

DB….I simply mean that since she is our only one, we don’t want to waste any opportunities and we want to make good choices about how we spend our time as a family experiencing her development. People with more than one child get to experience most things multiple times. We know that the things she does and says will only happen one time so we want to experience all of them. We have made the choice to only have one, so we are very conscious about choosing, for example, to take her to the park when she asks to go instead of saying no, mommy is tired or no daddy is busy. I don’t want to say to myself in 15 years, I wish I had spent more time taking her to the park (or whatever). I was not trying to compare our situation to a family with multiple children or insist in any way that those parents are less careful with their choices. Does all that make sense? I feel like I just rambled a lot trying to get my point across.


July 1st, 2009
10:45 am

Kathy — Thanks for expanding on that comment, that makes sense. “Inquiring minds want to know”, and all that . . . !

You know, Mommy is allowed to be tired sometimes, and sometimes, Daddy has to be busy. There are years and years of memories to build on — saying no every once in a while isn’t going to stunt her emotional growth :-) Part of being part of a family is also learning to balance the give and take of other people’s needs and wants. In 15 years, there will be something that you wished you had done differently, no matter how assiduously you try. Even parents with multiple kids don’t get to experience “everything” — sometimes they are even less likely to have a variety of experiences, because they are often busy reliving the same stages of life over and over again with each child.

I was an only child for 13 years (due to various maternal gynecological issues), and then my brother was born. My parents have often commented that it was like raising two separate families of only children, because I was off to college the same year he started kindergarten! My brother and I are very different, and my parents definitely had a full spectrum of childhood experiences spread out over 30 years!


July 1st, 2009
11:18 am

Kathy – interesting perspective. Gives me a better understanding of the attitudes I see in single-child parents. Most I know are extremely involved in their kids’ life and tend to be willing to give their child most anything the child asks for. Most onlies I’ve observed seem to be self-assured (especially around adults) but a bit self-absorbed as well. I had never thought of the ‘don’t want to miss our only opportunity’ thought as an explanation. I had just assumed it was a matter of time available and the difference in general parenting attitudes that having more kids tends to give.

DB – Great Post! If I could change things
- I would not let little annoyances and childish stupidity bother me so much.
- I would figure out a way to be more active as a family.
- I would spend less money on non-necessities before kids in order to have that money to spend on the kids.
- I would take more pictures of everyday life not just special occasions.


July 1st, 2009
11:34 am

I would have stayed in college, and gotten a better career, made a better choice in a husband (although I did get my beautiful daughter) and tried to make more money so I wouldn’t have all this financial stress on MY shoulders.

Jesse's Girl

July 1st, 2009
11:42 am

JJ…you may have financial stress on your shoulders….but I think it says volumes about your character that you sound like one of the most together moms on our little blog!


July 1st, 2009
11:42 am

Jessie – not sure where you live but pretty much all the lakes have public beaches and every kid remembers going to the lake.


July 1st, 2009
11:53 am

Great topic! Even though they’re grown and gone, you never quit worrying about them! Enjoy your free time and enjoy their homecomings from college. The really tough time is when college is done and they’re in the workforce. Then you have no definite times for seeing them except maybe holidays; especially if their job takes them out of state. I was hit hardest when my last child finished grad school and moved to N.C. Since she’s two states away and engaged to a guy in med school in S.C., I seldom get to see her now. At least we chat often on Facebook or by phone! Thankfully, my other child is nearby and I get to see him often!


July 1st, 2009
11:58 am

Jessie’s Girl – THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 1st, 2009
1:02 pm

JG — our friday topic is on good family stuff for July 4th — You did a great job hosting yesterday — you were cracking me up — everytime I looked to make sure comments weren’t being held as spam I was reading your replies — you’re sooo funny! thanks for doing so much yesterday!

went to the doctor today — not strep but they can’t tell if it’s just allergies or virus — so I can’t go again today. just trying to rest to get over this so i can help more!!!


July 1st, 2009
1:09 pm

Things to do/remember with my children so I won’t have much I would do different:
1. Snuggle in the bed on Saturday’s watching cartoons . Or stay up all night in bed watching movies until everyone falls asleep!
2. Remember that Ice Cream for dinner (occasionally) will not kill them and is good for the soul!
3. Playing in the sun is important! So it is ok not to spend the weekend making the house look perfect—or even organized.
4. Messes are a part of learning to cook. So go make one!
5. 10-20 minutes a day rolling in the floor laughing or turning on the tunes dancing is time well spent.
6. It doesn’t matter if I do it like my Mother did it (dinner, laundry, cleaning)…making sure I am there with them, even if there is Pizza…is what matters.
7. Act silly (like talking Martian with a toddler for more than an hour or even if it embarrasses them), because deep down they love knowing you have a silly side.
8. Be serious when they need a heart to heart – no matter if the heart to heart is about their teddy bear or sex—because they need to know you value what they say.
9. Say sorry and ask forgiveness when you make a mistake, don’t try to seem perfect or make them think you expect them to be.
10. Say I love you, I am glad to be your parent, and give hugs everyday.


July 1st, 2009
1:17 pm

I’m not sure why I do this, but ever since my son was born, when I leave the house, I leave like it’s the last time I’ll see him. I always hear stories of people who wish they had said “I love you” as they last thing people hear from them.

I got a lot of it from my Dad (the I love you’s) and not a lot from my mom. So every single chance I get, I tell him I love him. Just driving in the car to Target, watching Phineas and Ferb, cooking dinner…whatever. I must tell him I love him all the time.

I make sure that every time he asks me to play with him, whatever I’m doing, I stop and I play with him.

I dated a man years ago whose mother died when he was a little boy and he said he didn’t remember her…that broke my heart. And I still think about that man every so often.

I didn’t get a lot of affection growing up from my mother…and I have made a very conscience decision to be the opposite of her.

There are little things I wish I could have done differently, but I don’t let it eat me up inside…I just try to do everything else a little better.

Still, at the age of 8, I will sometimes watch him sleep and marvel at what a awesome kid he is. I love him more than I love myself.


July 1st, 2009
1:42 pm

FCM – That was great.

Carolyn, I ALWAYS say I love you to my daughter, my mother, my brother, and most of my friends…….


July 1st, 2009
1:46 pm

I wish we took more pictures and videos. We almost take none at all.

Sometimes I get down on those folks who are always snapping photos. I think, “They’re so busy preserving the moment that they are missing the moment altogether.”

However, we have almost no pictures. There should be a balance.


July 1st, 2009
2:14 pm

I always tell me little guy I love him! I didn’t hear it much growing up and I wanted to make sure he knows without a doubt that he is loved! I tell him every night before bed and many times off/on throughout the day! I even tell him I’m SO happy that HE’S my little boy and how lucky I am!

Theresa, sorry you’re not feeling any better. That stinks. Oh well, this will definitely (hopefully) give you time to get some GOOD rest! Hang in there!


July 1st, 2009
2:22 pm

FCM, I always ask my two if I never said that I love you (even though I do say it) would you still know it? They tell me yes, by the way I act with them..I only get them on weekends and when they wake up, I say “good morning sunshine” A couple of weekends ago, I didn’t say that to the boy when he woke up and he made sure to tell me about it..

1..take them fishing even f you don’t like it..
2..watch a silly (or stupid) movie just for them..
3..wear different colored nail polish they put on you..
4..if they want matching clothes for you, wear it..
5..go out with the makeup on that she did for you..
6..let them be kids..

Theresa, sorry about the strep..Am glad to hear that your brother is doing as good as he is…

Old Mom

July 1st, 2009
2:54 pm

Our son just graduated from college and is a wonderful young man – respectful, hard working, honest, spiritual and self confident. I look at him and it’s hard to think of what I would have done differently since he’s turned out so well.

On that note, I think I would have been more laid back and not worried so much about how things would turn out, not stressed so much if he wasn’t studying hard enough, forgetting his home work etc. There was a time when I was concerned if he would even get into college let alone do so well. A priest once told me that we were “in the middle of the book” of raising him and we don’t yet know how the book ends. It was a message to chill – in hindsight I should have taken the message more seriously.

I think I would also have let him sort things out and suffered the consequences for things – not tried to insulate him from them (within reason) He did perfectly fine in college without parents around everyday to help him make decisions.

I also would have spent more time just enjoying each other rather than always running around to activities – either his, my husband’s or mine.

Remember life is short – enjoy each other now!


July 1st, 2009
4:32 pm

Although I’m not yet a mom (yet this is my favorite blog to read…go figure!), it made me think of my dad. I wonder if he wishes that he had done things differently with me – when I was growing up (I’m 26 now), he had a very demanding job; he traveled (both domestically and internationally) most weeks. He missed my 16th and 17th birthdays (and probably others; those are just the two that come to mind), didn’t see me in my prom dress, and missed numerous school events and awards ceremonies. That company let him go last year, when he was ~10 years from retirement. I wonder if he thinks that it was worth it.

I don’t feel any resentment (although, believe me, I used to), but I wonder how he feels. His job situation is an emotional one, as he hasn’t yet found another job, so it’s not something that I’m going to bring up (at least not for a long time).

I have a brother who is in elementary school, though; I hope that my dad is able to do anything that he wishes that he had done [with me] with my brother as he grows up.


July 1st, 2009
4:33 pm

on the other hand OLD MOM if you had not worried about it so much and been more laid back, he might have turned out differently. :)


July 1st, 2009
4:36 pm

Okay you all just have me in tears! My kids are just babies and wow this is just so much food for thought. I’ll have to print everything out so I don’t forget a single idea. Thanks to all of you.


July 1st, 2009
5:00 pm

Belle, Kenny Chesney has a song called “Don’t Blink” Find that song and listen to it..It says is all IMO..

new mom

July 1st, 2009
5:09 pm

These have all been such sweet and thoughtful entries to read, thanks everyone! I have tried to enjoy and appreciate every moment we’ve had so far with our 21 mth old daughter, even the rough ones. In those moments (temper tantrums, screaming fits, normal stuff for a toddler) I will say to my husband “well someday she’ll be a teenager and it will not be so obvious to us what’s wrong with her!”
I don’t like the idea of regretting anything later on. That’s what’s keeping me taking so many pictures and videos, planning fun outings, but also making time for unstructured play (where our girl can be creative and do what she decides SHE wants to do), etc. However, already I have some things I’d change. And because I’m about 6.5 mth pregnant, I both have time to work on these with our girl and be better with our next.

First, I’d actually develop some of the thousands of pictures we take! ;) We are pretty good about having them organized electronically, making backups, saving them backed up offsite, and putting them on their secure website so our friends and family can enjoy them. But actually having some of the pictures developed for us has gone by the wayside. I am not very crafty, so I used the pre-done scrapbooks where all you have to do is add pictures, but even that is hard to find time to do. Especially when this hot tired pregnant lady could be taking a nap! But on the plus side, we take her every 3-4 months to have her portrait made at one of the inexpensive places, and I haven’t ever regretted that. Even at 3 months apart, it’s amazing how fast she changes from picture to picture. we always make sure our family has plenty of those pictures at their disposal.

Second, I’m the same way about our girl’s baby book, I really need to finish it.

And she just now-finally-woke up from her nap (I wore her OUT at the park today!) so I am outta here.

Thanks DB for such a thought provoking blog. :)


July 1st, 2009
5:34 pm

This was a tough one for me, as we too are “in the middle of the book” as Old Mom said. We’re learning as we go along. One thing I am proud of, though, and it’s a little thing, is that I’ve lived up to my promise to myself that I would wear every piece of “jewelry” that was made for me by my kids out somewhere in public. Once it was a pipe cleaner twisted around my finger for a ring, and another more memorable time it was a necklace that hung almost down to my waist made from giant painted wooden beads strung on yarn. And I do mean giant. Make a circle with your thumb and forefinger to get an idea or the size. It even had a flower from a store bought lei on it. The receptionist at the pediatrician said she like my necklace the day I wore it, and I made sure my child heard me say “Thank you. I love it too and I think it’s beautiful.” The child’s smile was so worth the strange looks I got. I wouldn’t change that for anything.


July 1st, 2009
6:03 pm

new mom, enjoy the pics you’ve got of your first but realize it will become harder and harder to get those done with two.
I’ve got enough professional pics of the oldest to paper a room or two; the middle child’s pics could probably paper one wall and the youngest might have enough to cover about a third of a wall (and some of those are group shots). Money, time and energy get in the way of the best intentions.
Knowing what I know now, I would have considered not getting as many of the oldest and trying harder to get more of the younger 2.