“Just a minute, Allie.”
“Let me finish this first.”
“Let go of my leg, I have to get the laundry.”
I hear myself say this every day. It doesn’t sound like much, but sometimes at the end of the day, I look back and think, “Did I actually play with Allison today?” I fill our day with activities outside the house, lunch, movie, park, dinner, and sometimes another trip after that. And of course, when we’re home, there’s laundry, cooking, and cleaning to do. Everything seems so important and urgent, and then I realize something horrible. I’m essentially ignoring my daughter. Do you feel that way at times? Like you’re just so “busy” that you don’t have time to just sit and enjoy your family? I need to tell you today that you’re not alone.
It’s easy to let little things get in the way of what matters most.
You never really mean to ignore your kids. First you make them go play after breakfast while you empty the dishwasher. Then you have to transfer the laundry from the washer to the dryer before you forget. Then you kind of sit and play with them for a couple minutes before you make them go potty, brush their teeth, and get dressed so you can go out for your morning activity. There’s interaction, yes, but is it meaningful? Or is it just enough to get through to the next activity?
I feel like I struggle with this every day. I wake up each morning and tell myself it’ll be different, that I’ll spend more quality time with Allison. But every time, I fail. My priorities are not where they should be, and it affects my entire day. The to-do list swims through my head constantly, and I think to myself, “How can I get out of this???”
You have to keep telling yourself you’re not a bad mom.
There’s nothing wrong with being busy. It’s okay to sometimes fill your day with activities, especially when they’re fun things that your kids enjoy. You’re taking them on playdates, to the park, to the museum… you all have a great time and your kids will remember these moments.
But sometimes that feeling of guilt comes in. What exactly did you do during these activities? Did you interact with them, show them the cool things around you? Or did you stand back and just supervise and watch them play? Neither of those are necessarily good or bad, but you start doubting yourself over the quality of the time you spent together. Was it enough? Did you bond? It’s so hard not to feel guilty that you supposedly ignore your kids, yet that guilt still creeps in and consumes you.
Listen, because this is something I’ve realized and have to keep telling myself: If you feel guilty and concerned about being a bad mom because you feel like you ignore your kids, then you’re not a bad mom at all. You’re making a conscious effort to try. You care. And you can get through this.
You have to overcome your shortcomings, one step at a time.
Maybe you’re just tired. Tired of the monotony of everyday life: Waking up, getting the kids ready and fighting over brushing their teeth, preparing all the meals they may not even eat, and entertaining and teaching them the best you can. At some point you realize you haven’t taken a moment for yourself in who knows how long. If your mind is weary, your whole day will be affected and the cycle continues. Here are some things to try, to clear your mind and make yourself more present for your kids.
- Wake up earlier in the mornings. If you wake up with your kids, you may start off your day frazzled and unorganized. Start off with waking a half hour earlier; just enough time to get in some coffee, maybe a shower. You need that quiet time to recharge and prepare yourself. Soon you may find you crave more time and will start waking up earlier. Being an early bird has made me a better mom because I feel like I’ve had that “me time” and can better handle what comes my way.
- Dump all your to-dos and worries on paper first thing. If your mind is constantly swimming with things you have to do that day, you tend to focus on that and stew on it rather than focus on your kids that need your attention. If you can get everything on paper, you may feel better about seeing everything in one place; and from there, you can prioritize and figure out what really needs to be done that day.
Take a deep breath, friend. No matter how deeply stuck you think you may be, you can get out. Tell yourself you don’t ignore your kids; they adore you. You can break those chains of failure and not let your busy-ness get in the way of those mini-yous that just want your presence. You’re an amazing mom who loves her kids and don’t let anything tell you otherwise, including yourself!