Friday, October 12, 2007

I Need You Internets To Tell Me Something Please

Why is it that the second I sit down in front of the computer or I get on the phone, one, two or all four of my children need something RIGHNOWTHISVERYSECOND?

I just don't get it.

I am here for my kids. I am an available, involved type of mom.

I am also the type of mom who cannot make it through a phone conversation without having to fill a sippy cup, wipe a butt, dress a Polly, or shoo someone out of the snacks.

I am beginning to wonder if I am not giving my kids enough attention. Or do they get so much attention that they cannot handle it when I am not devoting my time to them?

My husband and mother would vote for the latter.

But I've always believed kids can never have too much attention. When I was a new mom, my mother would say to me 'Put that baby down, you're going to spoil her. She'll never learn to sleep when she's not being held.' And like most things that involve my mother, I felt completely the opposite. Is it really possible to hold a baby too much?

As my kids have grown, I've spent many days playing dollhouse or Barbies or building Geotrax, when perhaps I should have been cleaning or doing laundry. My husband will come home from work and ask 'What did you do all day?' Ummm, let's see...I nurtured another human life??? How's that for spending my time wisely, buddy?

My mother will visit and is always quick to point out the things I could be accomplishing if I wasn't 'playing'.

And she's probably right. But I just don't agree. I cannot remember one single time during my childhood when my mom sat down and played with me. And I really mean that, not one time. I've just reread what I've written and this post is turning out to be a lot more serious than I intended. I was merely just planning on complaining about my children who are not happy unless they have my full, undivided attention.

But that would be quick and to the point. And there is nothing about me that is quick and to the point. My indecisiveness is a topic for another day, though.

What I am wondering do I find a balance? How do I spend time doing the things I need and want to do with them? Things like playing a game, going to the park, reading stories? How do I balance those needs with the needs of running my home? The cleaning, the cooking, the laundry. I am having some trouble. I can do one or the other, but not both.

Does anyone have any advice for me on how to spend time with the kids, be an involved mother, but also be the mother who does not have to stay up untill 1am catching up on all the days chores because she was at the park playing most of the day? I can't seem to find the balance here.

And it is really wearing me out.


Family Adventure said...

Hi Lisa,
Great topic. I only have two boys, but I feel much of the same. And I'm not even sure I am all that great at playing with them.
I don't think you can spoil your children with attention per se, but kids do need to learn to entertain themselves, as well. Are your kids good at playing with each other? Or by themselves?
Would the older ones enjoy 'taking charge' of the younger ones for a bit, while you do the laundry or prep dinner or do a quick clean-up in the family room? Could you all have 30 minutes of 'reading/colouring time' where you also get to sit down and just relax for a bit?
I don't really have any great answers for you, but most moms feel like you do at some point or other. I also know that parents with older kids always tell me to treasure the time I have with my boys now, as they grow up so quickly. So if you can look back in a few years' time and say that you were as involved and active as possible, that is something you will never regret! Looking back saying you were always on top of the laundry situation. Well...who care?!
- Heidi

FernandoDownUnder said...

I don't have any good advice, but sometimes I have the same problem. My children tend to the extremes and either won't let me play with them, because I don't do it right, or want my attention every single second of the day. I will be reading the comments though, hoping to pick up some good tips! :)

P.S. My mother never once played with me either and she always told me I would spoil my babies because I held them all the time too. :)

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

The rule in our house is: Don't bother an adult who's on the phone unless the child is actively bleeding heavily enough to need stitches, her eyeball has fallen out of its socket, or she needs to have a limb set in a cast.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Oh Lisa, This is such a tough one and I struggle with it. So a few random thoughts:

1. Phone calls - we have role played and when I am on the phone and they need me, they have to come put their hand on my leg till I acknowledge them. (I can't stand the yelling at my while I am talking)

2. I have my daily cleaning schedule which breaks it down into no more than 20 mins each day - I figure that is a good amount that they can help or play by themselves.

3. We do one hour of rest time where they sit on blankets to play alone while I do my quiet time and/or read and/or sleep on the sofa.

4. The rest of the day is me playing or doing various daily chores (dishes, make lunch, etc)

5. I have friends that set a timer and play in 20/30 min increments with their kids and then take 20 mins to do their thing. I am just not that ridgid, but it works for them.

Good luck!

ValleyGirl said...

Oh, I think we may have discovered a difference between you and I! In this area, I think if you and I could trade each other half of our parenting/homemaking personalities, we'd be perfect!!!!

On the rare occasion when I actually do what my girls want to do, I discover that it's a lot of fun, but I'm usually too busy thinking about what I should be doing instead. Or worse, what I'd rather be doing instead of the things that need doing and spending quality time with my girls.

I agree, kids need to learn to entertain themselves, but by spending time with them now, while they're still at home, you're not just playing -- you're teaching, you're fostering their imaginations, and you're shaping their worldview. I say the housekeeping can wait until you've got the house to yourself all day long!!! (Unless you're homeschooling! Then it might be advisable to figure out some sort of housekeeping schedule for yourself and your kids. You can always put them to work, too.)

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

I don't have any great advice for you, but I do have the same problem. And maybe that's what it boils down to - there isn't any black and white solution. It's a balance of priorities every day that you constantly have to renegotiate. I think it's one of the hardest parts of being a mom.

At least we all are feeling the same way, right? Does that count for anything?

Annie said...

I have a hard time balancing the two, also. 3 out of 4 of my kids are in school, and #4 will be in pre-school 3 days a week in just a couple of weeks. The only problem is, I'll be working at his pre-school those same days. My plan is to be a little more organized, so I can play with the kids while they're at home.

One thing that I used to do was make dinner in the morning, wether that was putting something in the crockpot or doing all of the prep work, dinner would be 75%-99% done, so we could spend the afternoon/evening hours playing outside like the kids wanted to, not slaving over the stove.

New Diva on the Blog said...

It took me 3 hours to read this post, so I have no suggestions for you.

Playing is important!

chrissy said...

Great post I enjoyed reading it and all the comments!! Unfortunately I have no miracle advice, I go through the same thing!! If there is miracle advice please, please pass it on to me!!!

Ann said...

Wow, sounds like we have A LOT in common....I have started having my little guy play by himself for a little time BEFORE I play with him. During this time, I do some chores or something I NEED to do. I do think playing with our kids are IMPORTANT.
Hope you can find a balance, too.

chickadee said...

oh please when you figure it out let me know. my kids are better when i spend time with them first then tell them up front, i'm going to spend some time doing.... and i need you to .... if they have direction while i am working on something they are better. not great, but better.

alice said...

I wish I had a great answer for ya... I came to read the comments so that I could get some advice for the same. I've got two girls - 10 months, and 2 1/2. I work full time outside of the home - and the house is just one big blob of a mess. But - I DO remember my mom playing with me, and I sure as hell will make sure that my kids remember the same. :)

E said...

My kids are 14 and 8 and I swear it's worse now than it was when they were younger! In fact, I've realized that if I want my 14yo talk to me, I just need to be on the computer or trying to watch a movie! Works like a charm! The sad thing is, my brother is 27 and he still can't seem to let my mom be on the phone without talking to her when he's around.