As a working mom the entire time that my kids have been on earth, I have so often battled guilt. The guilt that comes when you are not there for a monumental time or a school event can really eat at you. I have spoken to so many people over my career and life that I have gained an interesting perspective about it all. While I do not want to dismiss or upset any stay at home moms, the relationship with your kids is very different. I believe the guilt drives “career out of the home” working moms to go overboard to make the time with your kids incredibly meaningful. Honestly, I have always been jealous of those that are able to be home with their children, however, this was not in the stars for me.
Have you ever asked yourself what do your kids really like and how can use this as a way to connect with them? I have been a student of my children. Take this from a mom that has consistently year after year learned the latest and seemingly crazy dance moves to connect with her daughters. I have also watched movies and joined social networks to maintain the relationship and to stay relevant. Over time, the moments with your kids certainly does change from Teletubbies (telling our age) or the latest cartoon craze to fun restaurants or activities.
We think as parents that we need to plan elaborate events when in all actuality some of the smaller times and events are the most meaningful. Mornings certainly are the times that are lost when thinking about spending time with your kids. When asked to raise your hand if you have just been nuts in the morning with your routine that you have not stopped to smell the roses (or hug your kids), my hand is all the way up, it cannot get any higher. Our morning routines used to be so crazy that we would stop in the local bakery to grab something in the morning or Starbucks and when waiting we would giggle and chat about things. I used to look back on the morning throughout the day and think my goodness what am I doing, am I teaching my kids the right thing. Several months ago (any many years later) my daughters and I were reminiscing and they brought up the mornings that I used to agonize over. They spoke of them as if they were magical times. They said how they treasured the times where they were there waiting and we had nothing more to do than to wait and how they enjoyed those giggles and chat. They also look back on those times as sharing a cup of white-hot chocolate with me in the winter or splitting a sun-dried tomato bagel with egg whites. I had a moment of clarity in this conversation thinking wow, these moments meant so much to them , when I thought I was failing as a parent, they saw me as winning.
Making meals, a time when you don’t realize the connection you are making with your children, we see it sometimes as a chore and they see it as an adventure, they are helping. This is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your children whether you are a stay at home mom or a working out of the home mom. Kids love to help in the kitchen, I think it is the desire to help/contribute coupled with the creativity that abounds in the meal preparation. What a great way to teach healthy habits and ways to use different ingredients, who knew how fun it would be to create meals with golden beets or parsnips? Your kids, that is who. Be real, it doesn’t have to be a daily occurrence, don’t put that pressure on yourself, the occasional moments will suffice everyone will be happier when it is on the table.
Walks, it is great exercise and also a great time to connect, tip- do yourself a favor and put your phone away, use this time to really connect, uninterrupted. Along your walk, talk about what you see or have them describe their day. I always like to take these quick moments to connect and relate, you really would be surprised how much you relate to your child. Happenings in the course of their day certainly do relate to the happenings in your day.
My favorite way to connect, and remember I have daughters, is to shop. You learn so much about them when you are picking things out in the store or you are getting to the store. If you are driving, crank up the music and sing together! If you are walking, people watch and chuckle.
In all of these small moments you will be quite surprised at how much you actually have in common. I have cherished even the seemingly insignificant times. When your kids are young and you are overwhelmed you cannot see through the weeds and when people tell you to cherish the moments you may not always appreciate the advice. Fast forward to college and high school and you miss those silly nights of crazy make up and singing into a brush to a fun song on the radio. The working parent guilt is real but do not let it consume you. Use the little times where you can make sure you are making an impression. Moms are role models and no matter your choice be it working outside of the home, picking up their kids personally every day from school or teaching them at home. I now have to fly to Baton Rouge to see my college aged daughter to spend time and watch a softball game to connect with my high school aged daughter. Both are times I cherish and honestly, I do not wish they were young babies again, I like them at this age, they are my friends.
You can juggle it all and have a great relationship with your kids. Give yourself a pat on the back and cut yourself some slack , working mom, you deserve it! Make the most of every moment you have!