Mom? Or personal assistant?!
(Kelcey’s girl making lunch!)
Re-post from November 2013
by Kelcey Kintner of The Mama Bird Diaries
I have this job where I work about 14 hours a day, including weekends, plus I often get desperate pleas for my help overnight. It’s like I’m a personal assistant to a very demanding celebrity. Except I’ve never seen Lady Gaga in my house. Just a bunch of adorable, whiny, amazing, unpredictable children.
The job is parenthood. And sometimes I can go days without spending any real time with my kids. Instead, I just respond to a million requests (More juice! I’m hungry! Can we watch a show? Can you open this? Can you close this? Can you fix my sock? Can you find my sock? Can you change my sock? I’m cold. I’m hot. I’m tired. Hey, where’s that juice?).
When I’m not responding to requests, I’m cleaning. Or yelling. Or corralling. Or driving. Or putting toys away. Or doing laundry. Days can go by without any real quality time with my kids. I have a friend, a mother of 3 sons, who also found herself in a tailspin like this. One day her 5-year-old said to her, “Can you have a babysitter come play with me while you clean?” I think she put the sponge down at that very moment and promised to find more quality kid time in her day.
It takes a lot of work to keep a household together. So it’s not a surprise that it’s hard to find time for the real stuff. You know, the things that actually matter. Like sitting down and playing Barbie with your kids even though this activity can bring on a desperate parental longing to check Facebook instead of dressing Barbie for her beach party.
It’s time for me to put “playing” on the “to do” list. The reality is my kids will never remember or care if the counters were clean or the laundry was folded. They just might remember reading books with me, feeding the ducks at a nearby pond, playing Twister or getting a double scoop cone at their favorite ice cream spot.
So how does one magically turn into an engaged parent, instead of a harried, cranky personal assistant? First of all, get out of the house. The minute I’m away from all those labor intensive house chores, I am so much more focused on my kids. I love to take a walk with them, go to the pool (I live in Florida but most YMCA’s have open swim hours), go ice skating or hit the library. I find that the minute my kids are engaged in an activity, a lot of the demands like “I need a snack!” taper off.
Another idea? Start giving your children chores so that the burden of all the housework isn’t always on you. I love Choreganizers but there are lots of ways to dole out the responsibilities. For example, my 6-year-old will make the lunches (minus the sandwiches) for herself and 3 of her siblings. With less on my “to do” list, I can focus on having more fun with my kids.
Finally, try putting the phone away and just sitting down. Children have some kind of finely tuned GPS system where they can locate their parents anywhere in the house. When my kids find me sitting on the couch, they will bring me books, talk to me about their day and even bring me a Barbie to dress. And I’ve got to get her ready. I heard she has a beach party to go to.
Kelcey Kintner is the popular blogger behind The Mama Bird Diaries. Featured on Good Morning America, and published in The New York Time’s “Motherlode” blog and Redbook, she’s also a mama to five children nine and under.
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