Us mothers place a lot of guilt on ourselves don't we. I doubt you'd find a mother who said they had done everything perfectly. We all have things we wish we could change, things we wish we could take back and things we wish we had done. Many mothers feel they have missed out on things, whether through being at work, being busy with other children, being busy with housework, being distracted with Facebook or blogging or whatever it was, or just not fully appreciating the joy that is being a mum.
I've tried really hard to not only be home with my children but also to be home WITH my children if you know what I mean. It's hard when I'm so tired. It's hard when there's so many things fighting for my time and attention. It's hard when I have a tendency to daydream. For the most part though I do make it a priority to spend time everyday with my kids on their level. I switch the TV off, I leave my phone out of reach, I make sure the kids are clean and fed and I get down on the floor.
We play blocks or trains or tea parties or playdoh or dollies or we draw or we roll around on the floor tickling eachother. Actually I've realised it really doesn't matter WHAT we are playing with just that we play. On Friday we played with ribbons and hair clips, on Thursday it was oven mits and a plastic duck with Alexis and a cushion and feet with William, on Wednesday it was animals, on Tuesday it was cardboard boxes (Alexis turned them into a car) and on Monday we just danced to music over and over and over again.
Yes I encourage the kids to play by themselves at times throughout the day because the ability to amuse themselves is a great skill (and I have work I need to do). Yes I encourage Alexis to "help" with the laundry and the dishes and tidying up and baking because I believe it's valuable to let her see what mummy does and take part in it. Yes I spend time reading stories to the kids because my husband and I believe a love for reading is crucial for both academic and creative learning (and it's a great excuse for cuddles). I believe these things are important and I believe in the power of play.
I don't know the fancy words for different types of play. I sometimes have a goal or agenda but most of the time I just hope to have fun with them. It means the world to my kids. They let me know that because when I get too busy with distractions they don't stop grizzling til they get it.
So I make it a priority.
My babies will be young for such a short time. There are things I already regret missing. William's baby book is empty. I never wrote down his first smile or when he first sat with support or when he first blew a raspberry or when he first really noticed his hands or when he first giggled. I'm missing details about Alexis too. I haven't got a record of when Alexis got which teeth or when she had her first haircut. I haven't written down when we moved either of them into their own room or when we moved Alexis into a bed. I'll never get these moments back to work out when it was but at least I can remember the moments because I was there. I was physically present and I was paying attention. William is so close to rolling over, he can already get half way there. It's not going to take long until he gets the strength to fling his head and shoulders over to meet his bottom half. I do not want to miss it.
So I'm going to keep reminding myself that spending "idle time" with my children matters so greatly to me. I know it but sometimes I get discouraged when I'm overwhelmed by the state of the house and feeling a little guilty for serving Alexis plain pasta with peas for dinner (again) and upset with myself for still forgetting to post the microwave booklet to my friend (she's been asking for it since before William was born) or when I really want to serve at church but just don't think the timing is right. Recently there have several potentially great blog posts that I have given up on because I just haven't had the time to do to them to the standard I'd wanted to. I'm sick at the moment and it's when we are sick that we are forced to slow down and just do the essentials.
I would have all the time in the world at the moment if I was to prioritise things a little differently. If I didn't pray, read the bible, worship or go to church I might have more time to myself and if I didn't go on dates with my husband we wouldn't have to spend a week trying to convince Alexis that she doesn't get to stay up so late on normal nights. If I was to ignore my children I could have a fantastic blog or a tidy house. If I gave up on sleep I might even be able to do both. It wouldn't take long though before I realised I was miserable and missing out on so much. I am young. I can do all sorts of things in a few years. My children need me now. So I thumble along blogging and cleaning and cooking the best I can but I hope I never forget the most important things. Some things are just too valuable to miss.