Today my daughter and I were playing LEGO together for about an hour. I thought we were having fun and getting on quite well. But the moment I let her know that I had to take a break from playing to get some work done, she started yelling, “NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY WITH ME!”
Cue the mom guilt.
Earlier this week my son and I were curled up together eating popcorn and reading aloud our favorite book. Four chapters in my throat started to feel sore and I let him know we could read more later but I needed to give my throat a rest and drink some tea with honey first. He groaned and closed the book in that sort of defeated way that let me know he was no where near ready to be done with our story time.
Cue the mom guilt.
Last month both of my children begged me to play pretend with them. I have never been good at playing pretend. Even when I was a child, it just felt weird to me. I declined. I told my children, “I don’t like to play pretend, but you guys can play without me.” They cried, they felt rejected.
Cue the mom guilt.
And as if the messages that my children were sending me weren’t enough, Facebook was there to pile it on even more!
Memes and posts flooding my newsfeed all with the same messages:
Put down the phone,
Play with your kids.
The mess can wait.
They’re only little once.
And you know what? That’s all true.
Parents SHOULD make eye contact when talking to their children.
Parents SHOULD read to their children.
Parents SHOULD play with their children.
Parents SHOULD let their children know that they are a priority.
Parents should also take care of themselves.
Parents should also have identities separate from their children.
Parents should also value themselves enough make their own happiness a priority.
Parents should also model healthy self esteem and self worth through their words and their actions.
This is not an either or situation.
You’re not choosing between your phone and your child.
You’re balancing their needs with your own needs.
I knew all of this and yet I was struggling with guilt.
I couldn’t help but worry, in my efforts to balance my needs with my children’s needs, was I underestimating their needs?
Then I saw yet another one of those Facebook posts: “The average American mom spends 13.5 hours with their children per week- MAKE THEM COUNT!”
Thats when it hit me. I spent three times as much as that already, and the week wasn’t even over yet!
Yes, if I was a public school mom and time was precious, I should absolutely attempt to schedule my “me time” when the kids were at school or asleep. But since I’m a homeschool mom, I have this abundance of time, I get a little more leniency in my scheduling.
As homeschool moms, we all know that we can bend and break the unwritten rules of education. We can bake cupcakes and use it to learn basic fractions. We can read living books instead of dry textbooks for history. We can paint outside for art, visit the zoo everyday for biology, practice our spelling lessons over a couple mugs of hot cocoa. We can do all sorts of wonderful things that public school teachers can’t.
Homeschooling allows us to teach our children differently.
And homeschooling allows us to parent our children differently as well.
I can spend several hours a day making eye contact, having conversation, playing, learning together, etc.. AND I can tell my children that I want to spend an hour having quiet time and doing something I enjoy without interruption. And it doesn’t make me a bad mom for doing so.
In fact, if anything, it makes me a better mom than I would be if I didn’t.
By valuing myself as a person and putting time into my identity as someone other than “mom,” I am modeling healthy self worth as well as giving my children the space to do do the same.
So stop feeling bad about looking at your phone- its your line of communication to your local homeschool network and you shouldn’t feel guilty for utilizing it.
And stop feeling bad about telling the kids you want to sit in quiet for a moment while they do something in another room. There is nothing wrong with needing to recharge your batteries- you can’t be a good mom if you’re running on empty.
Just stop letting other people tell you how much you should enjoy your children. They are yours. No one loves them more than you do. Have some faith in yourself as a parent and do what comes naturally. Play with them when you want to. Take a break when you want to. And know that either choice you make is the right choice in that moment.