Okay. Let’s be real. We are all WAY TOO BUSY in today’s American culture. We feel the pressure to do more each year and as our children get older, the list of possible extra-curricular activities grows and grows. As a woman and a mother, I feel a lot of pressure to succeed professionally and to be the perfect mom (or at least to LOOK like I am the perfect mom). I will be the first to tell you that the pressure is intense and difficult to bear. I have decided that it just isn’t worth it to keep up appearances…so here it is…I am NOT perfect in any capacity. I don’t even want to be perfect because learning occurs in the failures. My goal is to be the best mom I can be while also being a good wife, daughter, and teacher.
So, the humbling and learning continues as my husband and I strive to effectively parent our three-year-old. We were both rebuked by something he said a couple of weeks ago. In the mornings, we are always scrambling to get out the door without leaving behind a stray lunchbox or important document. Our son enjoys the mornings and wants to spend his time leisurely “nuggling” in bed with us, playing games, or marching around the house playing fifes and drums. There are many mornings when the dreaded words “We don’t have time” escape from our lips in the frenzied rush down the hall to the front door. Last week, my husband told our son that it was time to go to school. His response: “I don’t have time to go to school. I have to play my drum”. Wow…what he was really telling us is that he wants time with us and he doesn’t want to be rushed through his morning. We don’t want his to ever think that we don’t have time for him and the things that are important to him.
So, we don’t say “we don’t have time” as much now. We really try to stop and spend those moments with him. We can’t necessarily change what time we have to be at school or work, but we can show him our full attention in the moments that we do have to spend with him. Sometimes just by spending a couple of extra minutes doing a puzzle or reading a book, we actually save time. His three-year-old agenda is checked off and he is ready to go to school, or wherever we are going that day.
My husband and I also decided, even before our son came along, that we would limit television viewing and extra-curricular activities. We are die hard fans of Kindermusik, so that is our one extra activity each week. As for TV, we don’t watch it when our son is awake. He has never watched a cartoon or a sitcom. A couple of months ago, he saw his first YouTube video and we continue to limit those too. We spend time talking, playing, reading, and being together during the short hours we have with him in the evenings. I would not trade that time for all of the TV shows in the world. It works well for us. That is not to say that we don’t let other things get in the way of spending good, quality time with our son. There are plenty of worthy activities that can suck our time away from him. We sit down every week and talk about our schedules and what is a requirement and what is frivolous. We have to constantly prioritize and reprioritize!
Bottom line: Your children want YOU. They don’t want all of the fancy toys and the video games, not really. If you strip all of the stuff and activities away, you have more time to spend truly engaging with your child. They grow so fast, so enjoy that time. As my son is fond of saying, “I am a little bit big now and then I will be really big”. Time keeps ticking and I don’t want to look back and wish I had enjoyed the moments when he was “a little bit big” more. I need daily reminders to say “no” to something that I don’t really need to do and to reevaluate my priorities. It is very hard and sometimes I make the wrong choice, but I keep thinking about that little face saying “I don’t have time now”. I need to stop making excuses, pick up my fife, and start marching!