Ah, mom guilt. I’m sure we all feel it at some point. Try as I may to resist it, every so often it creeps up on me like a lingering bellyache. Some days are better than others. I’m torn between my work, my passion and my kids. I’m a schoolteacher by day and when I get home in the evening what I really want to do is write. However, I have two young boys who crave my time, a hubby as well and I love them all. However, I love writing almost as much as I love them. But I know my kids need quality time with their mom, and I’m very aware of that.
During the school year, my mommy guilt peaks. The kids go off to school and I go off to my classroom. When we arrive home we will spend time together on homework—which is not my favorite way of spending quality time with them, but it’s something that needs to be done. Then after they go to bed, I skimp on sleep so that I can blog, write and do social media, all of which I enjoy. But, I admit to feeling guilty for sometimes wanting them to fall asleep fast so I can do it.
I talk to other moms and compare notes on how we all try to balance work, our passions, our hobbies and our family’s needs. These are a few things that seem to work for me most of the time.
I am always explaining what I do.
My eldest son often sees me writing and asks, “are you done with your work yet?” I take time to explain to him that it isn’t work. It’s something I enjoy doing and that makes me a better person. I then offer him the opportunity to write with me. He sometimes does some creative writing by my side, and afterwards we read our stories to each other. My youngest, in the meantime, colors or scribbles in his own journal. He then shares the pictures he drew. While I am writing an article or completing schoolwork, I always try to include my kids if they are awake. I ask them questions and their opinions on certain things. I believe that if we explain our work and responsibilities to our kids, they’ll understand better why we can’t always give them our undivided attention.
I try to make the best of our time.
Whenever I do house chores and my kids want to be with me, I give them something to do so we can spend this time together. They fold the laundry or wash dishes while we talk. Or they set the table for me as I cook, and we have discussions about healthy and unhealthy foods, cooking, or what’s going on at school. For us, this is a little bit of quality time, and also a little bit of “quantity time.”
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However, our real quality time together means no distractions at all. Phones and computers are off or out of sight. That way my kids know they have my full attention. I make sure we have some of this time on a daily basis.
SUGGESTIONS FOR QUALITY TIME
Bedtime: Bedtime is conducive to reading books together. You read one page, your child reads another and then you can discuss the story and make comparisons and connections with real-life situations. Reading together is relaxing and may encourage your child to open up about his or her feelings. Take advantage of that.
Parks & Museums: Parks and museums are places where children can play and learn, but also spend one-on-one time with you, while they learn, explore and exercise.
Walks: Long walks on the beach are great for bonding. You can spend a day making sandcastles, collecting seashells, and playing games on the beach, while you converse. Children will love the fact that their mom is playing around, getting dirty with them and cherishing quality time. If you’re not near a beach, any outdoor activity is great for bonding, even if it’s just taking the dog for a long walk together.
Our main goal as parents should be to help our children learn to be independent. We want them to be able to do things on their own. But first, we need to plant that seed that enables them to feel loved, valued, and confident enough to do things independently.
As I write this, I hear my boys playing in another room and I smile. They are having fun, and so am I. And when I’m done, maybe I’ll go see if I can join in their games. In the meantime, I’m doing my best not to feel guilty!