I absolutely love being a mama. It isn’t something I thought a lot about growing up. I knew eventually I would want to have children, but I didn’t think about it all that much until I got pregnant with my oldest girl.
As time has gone on, and we have added number three to the mix, the mommy guilt came full force down on me.
I was trying to get dinner ready while simultaneously folding laundry and making sure Lucy wasn’t upset – pick her up, put her down, pick her up. That is when this wonderful phrase was said to me “Mama, you never play with us anymore.” Like a knife, right into my heart.
I stop and think about all the ways I spend time with the kids every.single.day.
Then all the questions start to creep into my mind.
Am I really spending enough quality time with them?
Am I using my phone too much?
Am I reading to them enough?
Are we going on enough trips to the library?
Am I using positive reinforcement?
Am I yelling too much?
Do I hear what they are telling me, or do I jump ahead without listening?
I see myself involved in their every day because I am filling all the roles, the roll of mama, teacher, chef, organizer, maid – everything. But, when I break out all those rolls, I can see that me as mama spending time doing these things, even if they are involved, are not exactly what they want.
I think that adding Lucy to the mix has been difficult for them. They want me to play, but Lucy is fussy, so I need to help her. I am limited in the amount of time I am available to sit down on the floor and play a game because when I have an hour of time when the baby is sleeping, there are so many other tasks to complete.
Parenting is hard.
I know that I am a good mom, even though sometimes it seems like everything is completely crazy. Why do I know? Because I am asking myself the above questions.
Sometimes the answers are not the ones that I want, and I realize I need to make a correction on the path. Sometimes I need to talk to the kids individually, away from a heated moment, ask their forgiveness and really understand what they are trying to tell me.
My kids are still so little, but I see how much they have grown over the past year, how their opinions matter so much to them, and while they don’t always get their own way, they still want their voices to be heard.
While I know that I can’t spend every minute playing with them, even if I am home with them all day, I need to build in a few minutes to play here and there. Even though I feel like I’m spending quality time with them learning and reading, they want more, and they want to be able to direct the play as well.
Balance is a difficult thing.
I don’t know if we can ever look at one day and say “yes, today was completely balanced.” There are some days where I feel like all I do is cook and clean and organize, barely taking a break to breathe myself, and the kids are playing, but I am not as invested in their day. There are other days where we spend the whole day together, laughing and playing, and nothing else is accomplished besides the bare minimums.
My goal needs to be that when I look back at weeks and months, I can say yes, my life is in balance.
This week I will be playing a little more My Little Ponies, and perhaps organizing file drawers a little less.
The most important part is that I understand how amazing these days with my children, and how fleeting they are. My oldest is going to be seven pretty soon. That seems incredible to me, and it has passed by in the blink of an eye. I want to make the most of every minute, and that little voice telling me “mama, you never play with us anymore, “ was the wake-up call I needed to put some of my requirements on the day behind me, and spend more time soaking up the love of my littles.
Do you feel like you are able to balance everything? Do you have busy seasons, whether self-imposed or not, that require you to spend a little less play time with your kids? What strategies do you use to work play into your days?