One of the hardest things I have had to do as a mom, was to face the reality that I was not putting my kids first.
When I thought of mothers that resided in this category, I pictured two different types:
- Neglectful mothers: Someone who looked and acted like Ms. Hannigan from Annie; wearing dirty lingerie and carrying around a questionable clear bottle, while screaming profanities at children.
- Filthy-rich mothers: Spoiled, pampered women who wear big hats and red lipstick – who felt forced into having children in the first place. Children who are raised by nanny’s while mom is having an affair with her tennis instructor.
I didn’t fall into either of these categories. I was more of a soccer-mom type, who loved my kids with all my heart. Just a working mom who tried to do the best I could. So why did I feel like I was doing something wrong?
I was a happy mom, yet an utterly overwhelmed mom all in the same.
Life was moving too fast, and my Type A personality prevented me from being the mother I wanted to be when there was loads of laundry and dirty floors. My To-Do list included all the usual, but things like cleaning and cooking seemed to rise to the top of the list on a daily basis. I would tell myself that I would be a “good mom” the moment I was caught up, but here is the kicker:
I was never caught up.
My poor children were stuck in the middle of a long standing battle between my Type A personality and my never-ending chore list.
If I wanted to truly be there for my children, in the ways they really need me to be, then I had to start actively pushing them to the top of my “list”.
Instantly, my perspective changed. I realized that my kids didn’t care about having a sparkling sink or steak dinners. There were other things that they needed from me and my husband.
In case you need to upgrade your “to do” list, here are 8 things that your children need MORE than a clean house and gourmet meals:
1) Someone that will attend and support them at activities
Does my house look like a small hurricane blew through it? You bet.
Did we eat hotdogs for dinner last night? Yup.
Is 90% of the solid surfaces in my house mysteriously sticky? Yes.
But was I at my son’s baseball game to cheer him on? I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Your children need you to be actively involved or present at their activities and events. No amount of cleaning, cooking, or other duties are more important than attending all of the games, plays, and recitals that you are able to.
When you cheer them on, you are building their confidence, as well as strengthening your parent-child relationship.
They need you to support them when they win, as well as when they lose.
2) A tentative parent to listen to them when they are upset
Your child will not always tell you when something is bothering them. Try to be a more present parent by stopping what you are dong and really listening. Ask them open-ended questions, and listen closely to what they are saying.
If you pass by them with a quick “how was your day?”, then you will not always be able to pick up on queues that they need you.
3) One-on-one attention
Children crave one-one-one moments with their parents. It doesn’t have to be a fancy outing. You can even do one of these 5 simple things to reconnect with your kids.
Remove distractions and genuinely interact with your kid.
4) Quality family time
Plan some intentional activities with your family. Quality time, doesn’t always happen automatically just because you are all in a room together. Do an activity that you will all enjoy, and make sure it is distraction-free.
5) Direct eye contact and time for affection
Studies, like this one, continue to demonstrate the impact that direct contact and closeness has on the development of babies and children.
Don’t skip out on slowing things down and embracing a long cuddle with your children.
Look them straight in the eyes during these moments, so that they know that you value what they are saying.
6) Someone to show them the world
My kids love to go on “adventures”. For us, an adventure constitutes any time that we are exploring something new. This could be a week long vacation, or a walk around the local park.
Kids need to be given the opportunity to discover new things, and be encouraged to explore.
7) A happy, rested parent
You are not doing your kids any favors if you are a ticking time bomb parent, who is ready to explode when ignited by something as simple as spilled milk.
I’ve been there. I’ve had “Mom Temper Tantrums” in front of my kids for totally ridiculous things. It would happen when I would have so many things on my mind, and one trivial issue would push me to turn into a mom-version of the Incredible Hulk.
It took me a long time to learn that taking breaks was not selfish, it was actually beneficial for my kids.
8) To feel like a valued part of the family
I am not saying to never pick up a vacuum or mop again. I am simply saying that sometimes you will have to accept the mess and change your focus to your children.
They will not feel appreciated if you throw the lego castle, that they spent hours of labor on, in a box to “clean up the room”.
They will not feel like a valued member of the family if you are always answering their calls with comments such as:
- Wait until AFTER I clean/cook
- I am too busy for that right now
- Maybe we can do that later
Remember, the mess can wait, but your kids are growing up at an alarmingly fast pace.
Someone once told me that cleaning your house when you have children is like trying to shovel while it is still snowing.
Lower your standards, and start to see the mess as evidence that you are doing something right. Push aside some toys, throw chicken nuggets in the microwave, and show those kids that they come first.
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