I’m constantly trying to squeeze things in to my day, and sadly my children are usually the ones who pay for that in the short term and also the long term. I have a life and I have interests that do not involve my children. Shocking! I’m sure most mothers do, but there isn’t a lot of time to enjoy hobbies while also tending to the household duties and all that motherhood calls you to do. I’d be willing to bet, if you’re reading this and you’re a momma, you’re probably trying to squeeze things in here and there while the kids are occupied with toys or games on their own. I love when I can sneak away because they’re playing together or just enjoying something alone. In fact, I’m doing it right now.
Personally, I feel it is good for my kids to play with one another without me. I can see them bonding and I can see them learning from one another. It is a wonderful blessing to have siblings. That being said, I need to slow down my days to give my children attention. My children need to see my eyes looking at them as they talk with me. They need to play with me to help develop a relationship that withstands hardships and undesirable circumstances going forward. What mother doesn’t dream of fifty years down the road with a home full of her grown children with their spouses and not to mention the multitude of grandchildren running through the kitchen while grandma places the finishing touches on the big family meal? What mother doesn’t dream of the talks that go long into the night with her daughter or son? How do you think you get that?
Here’s the secret though, your children don’t need hours of your time, I’ll argue they don’t need even close to one hour especially if we’re discussing consecutive minutes. If I play for fifteen minutes with my kids, or just one child, it goes a long long way. If I ask my son to sit in the kitchen and help me stir something while I’m cooking, it goes a long way. They don’t need too much of our time mom, just enough to make them feel they matter to you. So instead of squeezing in your leisurely activities every single chance you get, squeeze in a little down time with the kids too, because I’ll be you need it just as much as they do.
- Let one child stay up 20 minutes longer than the rest of the kiddos to get some quality Dad & Mom time. Yes, the others will feel slighted (until it is their turn) but allow them to look at books in their bed during that time so they think they’re getting a special privilege. This is a great habit to develop, reading before bed. When they can independently relax themselves before bed, your job will in turn get easier. Think on that!
- We have a 5 month old right now. If any one of my children gets neglected the most it is our baby. I have to be super intentional to get on the floor with him, and talk. I even pretend play with his toys so he can laugh and make noises with me. Again, when my other three or napping (side note: the oldest doesn’t always nap, but she’s resting in her bed, or in a particular room for a few hours) I take this baby munchkin to the toy room and play… as long as I get in a good 15 minutes it benefits him and me.
- Asking your kids to work around the house with you is just as much fun for them as if you were playing princesses and nights. Get out some dusting rags, make some dishwater and wash a few non-breakable dishes, vacuum their bedroom, make a bed, etc. The key is to teach them a life skill by talking them through it and telling them why this or that. I want to emphasize this will take longer than if you did it on your own, so don’t rush, don’t criticize, just be there in the moment with them and watch them learn.
- Do something out of the ordinary. My kids love to jump on my bed. They know they don’t get to jump unless I say it is okay and typically I have my camera out. This is good quality time for them and me. Set up a tent in the living room one night and watch a movie, or tell stories. Go to the zoo, children’s museum. or find some bouncy houses, if you haven’t been in over a month (be sure to keep the conversation going in the car on the way there). You get creative! You know your children best!
If you have to do something to help you stay focused on giving your children this special time, then create a few lists. Make a list of activities to try to engage with each child. Make a list of skills you want your children to learn soon and go from there. It doesn’t need to be hard, just squeeze it in here and there, instead of something less pressing. Motherhood is a gift and each stage of being a momma goes quicker than the last. Don’t hurry through, slow down, and squeeze it in.