Monday, March 22, 2010


"Eloise get your teeth brushed, the bus is coming!"

"Esther, we don't have time to read now, ballet starts in 5 minutes - we are LATE!!"

"I will play that game with you later - the baby needs to eat now."

"I cannot help you with homework, dinner must be made - try to figure it out yourself."

"In a minute I will get you a snack, I need to take this customer phone call."

"I will sit with you and snuggle in just a second - let me put this last load of laundry in the dryer."

Did I just tell my daughter she had to wait for a snuggle, so I could finish laundry? Oh yes I did.


Mother's need more minutes in every day to do what needs to be done.

If we prioritize family, does that compromise our job, our home, our meals, our laundry?

The days I try to spend cuddling, playing, reading, laughing are met with piles to shovel out after the kids go to bed. My perfect day of doing nothing but touching my children - both physically and emotionally vanishes quickly when I see all that I had let go that day.

So, I spend my days putting my children off - making them wait for my time, my undivided attention. Life of laundry, cleaning, working, cooking, and perhaps even a 10 minute coffee break at 3pm take me away from them.

How can I be a stay at home mom and still have so little time with my kids.

I notice the tension and the sadness most as my selling season is here - I fight with Eloise as she feels the most slighted as she is at school the longest. Esther is brought to tears more often, and the baby - well she cries no matter what I do. They all express in different ways that they need their mom.

So I do what I can - and try to spend even a 1/2 an hour per day of one-on-one time with each of them - playing a game, reading a book, snuggling on the couch watching a movie, throwing a ball. Just a 1/2 hour.

To me - taking that extra 1 1/2 hour to focus 100% on my kids still gives me the time to do the mundane things in our home, gives me the time to still answer the emails and phone calls...and it stops the yelling, the fights, the tears as they know I am available to them.

They also know that it is important that the laundry gets done, that the meals are cooked, that we live in a safe and relatively clean house...and they get to help too. They bake with me, match socks, put away laundry, dust, vacuum and mop.

There are still many times that the 1/2 hour never came - and as I tuck them in each night, we make a plan for tomorrow.

Do you find your family happiness is compromised without your focused time with each child? Do you also balance working outside the home and your family? Do you have some solutions you would like to share?



jill R said...

No advise, you're doing a fantastic job if you're getting 30 minutes of one on one time with your girls. Most children just don't get that, not even in a month.

I do feel blessed to be a SAHM, the guilt I'd have if I worked outside the home would be unbearable.

Melanie said...

This is the story of my life...balancing family with everything else! I agree that those days where I try to make it all about the kids, I end up very frustrated at bedtime when I have a house-out-of-control on my hands...and I also agree, that kids should be a part of the process of laundry, cooking, keeping house, etc...sure sometimes it takes longer that way, but it is together time & it is furthering the goal (in my opinion) of raising children who are learning to be productive, independent adults.
But I will say that I have lately been convicted about how much time I am spending at the computer (for work or not) saying, "In one minute baby..." And then I wonder why they don't do things I ask them to right I am working on that! And I honestly am trying to make choices (like no sports this season or limiting activities, parties, etc.) that will help us lead a simpler, less stressed life...
Great post's good to know that I'm not alone in this struggle & I look forward to the comments for some great ideas! Oh, I also really liked your idea of 30 minutes per you have a set time for each child or just whenever you can fit it in? (Sorry for such a loooong comment!)

Michelle said...

I've often thought that mothering would be easier of we never left the house. If you think about it, that's the way it was for most of our mother's and grandmothers. They didn't have cars, kids walked whereever they needed to go... child predators were rare.

We expect too much of ourselves.

Momma T said...

I'm just trying to live up to my own promises. When I say, "I'll do that with you once I've finished folding the laundry," i'm trying to stick to that, instead of sneaking in a few more jobs before he or she notices.

What I've figured out is that when I live up to those promises, I end up having more time to do other tasks. It's like they need my undivided attention for 10 minutes or so and then they're off to something else - by their own will, not by me forcing it on them. And I no longer feel guilty about going about my tasks so I have the hope, the dream, of reading or knitting a little before I go to bed.

I don't know about the answer to this one, but I think you're doing the right things even when you don't get everyone their 30 minutes - - you don't have a tv in your car, you listen to your girls (I've seen you), you incorporate them into your work (MJ and home), you take them plenty of places, you play games with them. You know them and they know you. You're doing the right stuff, girl, even during your very busy MJ season.

On a lighter note, I've just decided that I'm not going to sleep any longer. i think my life would be less hectic if I was no longer sleeping.

Love you.

Amanda M. said...

OH my goodness. I feel as though I could have written this (though not as well and lacking the absolutely beautiful pictures.)
I wish there were more minutes....

Rachelle said...

Oh Tracy, you have written SUCH a good post here. It really doesn't matter if you are a stay at home mom or not, mothers will feel guilty for lack of time spent with kids until the end of time. I'm convinced of it. It comes with the job. But, I agree with Jerry Seinfeld that feels as though we are living in an age of "over parenting", where we almost worship our children. They are our heartbeat, but it's okay for them to realize that parents have jobs to do around the home that are important if we are to function (cooking, laundry, cleaning, time w/other adults, etc.) Thank you for bringing up this subject. You're going to touch a lot of mothers with this one.

Mathmom and family said...

I have all of them home all day with me, and I still feel that pull at the end of the night... that guilt that somehow I shortchanged someone.

Kristi Pohl said...

I stayed home with Charlie, and every single night when I was putting him to sleep I would promise myself that TOMORROW I would spend more time with him-just playing. So since I repeated that mantra every night, guess I never spent what I thought was the 'right' amount of time. Because there is no such thing.

And now that he is twelve, and pretty self sufficient, I realize that the amount of time we played, even if I always felt guilty, was just right.

And you are doing a wonderful job of balancing everything, and now and then you need to be reminded of that. GOOD JOB MOM!

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