Friday, October 26, 2007

it's time; part two

I had a second part to the time management stuff that turned into more of not-so-much time management/family stuff, but priority/Mom stuff, so here's that second part. With more thoughts added at the end after other Thoughts for Thursday.
In other words; long post.

Now that I've organized my time a little more, I feel like I can focus better on the kids. They, by the way, have gotten much better about playing together just in the last couple of weeks. I mean, sure they have their moments, but they're really playing together much more easily with me having to intervene less and less. But as nice as that is, I have to be more intentional about not just always leaving them to fend for themselves while I'm cleaning or emailing or blogging or doing whatever it is that I do to fill my time with them otherwise occupied. I need to remember to take time out for fun projects, or to take walks, or to involve them in the chores more instead of just shooing them off to play or piling them in the car to run errands. I need to be more engaged with them. Just as I've needed more structure in the day to day keeping of the house, they too need structure. I mean, we have our routines, but I think they need more structured activities.

I think I have to go back to lesson plans. Seriously. Very generally laid out plans, but I need to plan.

Like I said before, as a teacher, my days were planned out weeks ahead of time. My time and my classroom were so well organized, I look at my life now and I think what happened to that? I always pictured my staying at home with my kids as a mini version of my preschool class... we would have a flexible routine, things to keep us busy, doing certain things on certain days, etc. And I did actually do quite a bit of that when Savannah was little. We did lots of art time and made projects and made forts and played tons of learning games.

Now since Sawyer came along, where did that all go? I must have left it in Oregon when we moved last year. Or forgot to dig it out when we moved again this year. I feel like these days all I do is chase the kids around, clean up after them and keep them from killing each other. Where did all my proactive vs. reactive habits go? Where are my fun times with my kids?

Because, if I'm honest? I'm not always enjoying them like I should be.

I send them to bed, more often than not, thoroughly relieved that my day with them is over. I'm frustrated from mealtime, short-tempered with their not listening and testing, and generally just done being their mom for the day. I don't like leaving them for the night feeling that way. I don't want them to pick up on that feeling at all.

So my plan. Apart from having more time during the day to actually play with them, I have a few things I want to try out.
  • One morning a week I'm going to plan a bigger project; whether it's baking and decorating cookies, or making a project, or painting a big cardboard box for a house, we're going to have something (planned ahead of time!) to do together, working together, for an hour or two. Something we can look forward to doing and something they can be proud of, something to show Daddy when he comes home.
  • On the date of their birthday each month, I want to make it "their" day. As a way to make them feel important and a little more in control, they call all (well, most of) the shots that day. Savannah was talking to me the other night about feeling frustrated that I always tell her what to do. I reminded her of all the choices she gets to make herself, and pointed out that sometimes obedience is one of the challenging things about being a kid, but decided I wanted to come up with a way for her to exercise more of that "being the boss" thing. So on that day, they are the boss; they get to choose something fun to do, or a movie to watch, what we're eating for dinner, that kind of thing. Just some extra "me" time for them.
  • Then also, I want to start doing Mother-Son/Daughter and Father-Son/Daughter dates. I want Ryan and I to spend some special one on one time with each of the kids. I'm not sure on the time frame yet, but I'm thinking twice a month, each of us will take some time out with each of the kids to do something special. Going to the park for a bike ride, just Ryan and Savannah, or me and her out for ice cream, or to a movie... and then some time with Sawyer to do whatever it is that will make his little toddler face smile. Just some undivided attention one on one that I wonder if we're letting slip aside in our day to day lives sometimes. I just want to be more intentional about it. I want them to know they deserve a spot carved out in our time like that. Time to just focus on them; not the two of them, not having to be a big sister or a little brother, but just time to be themselves and be with Mommy or Daddy.
*****
Nicole's post yesterday was quite timely as I was sitting on this post in my blog. See, I've been struggling with lots of those feelings lately. Like I'm not doing enough; I'm not always the Mom my kids deserve. And I read Nic's post thinking I would feel relieved by what she had to say and the points she made. That I should feel relief from some of that "measuring up". But I didn't and do you know why? Because I realized in writing this post the other day that it's not about me feeling guilty or imperfect because I'm trying to keep up with other moms or win some Mother of the Year award. It's about me not being the best mom to my kids that I can be. The key words being that I can be. Meaning I should be working at it.

Sure I can say that I make mistakes... I probably don't play with my kids enough, I know I'm often lazy and selfish and take the easy way out in feeding them or disciplining them, I know I don't always encourage and direct them in all the right ways, I know I yell at them when I often should grow up and be the adult in the situation. I'm not perfect and I know that.

But I don't want that to be an excuse to not do my best.

I can be more intentional with my kids. I can choose to look at this "job" I have for what it is. I'm shaping these little people. Yes, no matter what I do they know that they are loved and safe... but really if I love them and want them to be amazing little people I'm truly proud of as they grow up, I need to do better.
As Nicole said:
"No one is perfect. I'm not. You're not. So, why pretend. Why TRY to pretend? Why get wrapped up in trying to perfect ourselves... it'll never happen.
I've decided this.... there will be no more trying to keep up with the Jones'. No more letting the way other people lead their lives somehow make me feel like less of a good mom."

BUT. As much as I won't let other people make me feel like less of a good mom, I want to feel like a good mom. I want to be the mom that my kids deserve. And they deserve the best. I don't want to dismiss that "guilt" as comparing myself to the mom next door. For me and where I know I'm at, that is the easy way out. I want that measuring stick to be my kids and the way our home is running. I know I'm making more of an effort and being more intentional. I know I'm taking steps to be more "proactive" with my kids and everyone getting along and behaving and things running smoothly, instead of just always being in "reactive" mode. And that's what's easing my guilt. Instead of feeling guilty or instead of knowing I'm not doing all I should be or beating myself up over it, I'm trying. I'm learning. I'm making changes that are sometimes inconvenient or uncomfortable for me. But hopefully my kids are getting a better mom out of it. Which in turn makes them better kids.

Like I said, all of this adjustment of attitude and routines and stuff is new for me.
I mean I've known it all along, but to actually get off my butt and really do things about the things I'm not happy with. I'm just at the beginning.

5 comments:

Denise said...

Awesome post Heather! I think we all have things we can work on to be a better parent. Things that have nothing to do with comparing ourselves to others, but pushing outside our comfort levels to be the person/mother we KNOW we can be. I agree that when we do that, our kids will grow as well. Again, great post. I enjoyed your thoughts.

Heather S. said...

I am right there with you when it comes to a routine in our day! It has been harder to be deliberate about some things since Lucy was born!! Thanks for some great suggestions!

Nicole said...

I hesitated to even respond to this, but against my better judgment, here I am. Responding.

You are right. We shouldn't make excuses and stop trying to be good moms just because we'll never be perfect. However, I think by how you quoted my post you made it sound as though I was saying moms should just give up and not even attempt to try to be good mothers. I'm not sure you fully understood my post, or maybe I wasn't clear. The gist of my post was that we all have weak times as parents and that its okay to be human and have shitty days where we don't give our all. We can't be our personal best every day of our lives. And when we have those bad days where those types of behaviors are the best that can be mustered up, we shouldn't feel guilty about it and feel like we aren't being as good as so-and-so because they wouldn't dare do something like that with their child. Such as... I do play with my child, but there are days where I just don't have the energy or patience. I feed him healthy foods most of the time, but there are days where we're rushed and he just gets whatever. I talk to him on car rides, we sing songs, we have conversations... but there are days where he's too whiny and its just easiest to put in a movie.

So what if every once in awhile I am slacking in my own personal best as a good mom. So what if every once in awhile I can't be the best mom I should be for my son... we are ALLOWED those slip ups. Yes, we should always be trying to give the best side of ourselves to our children and set good examples for our children, but it is not possible to be and do that 100% of the time. THAT is the guilt we pose upon ourselves that we need to let go of. The guilt that so-and-so does it this way and so-and-so has it together much better than me and why can't I be like that, and why can't I not scream at my child when I'm pushed too far over the edge and why can't I always have a home cooked meal on the table and why can't I be happy with my children every minute of the day? Those things are the things we as mothers need to let go of and not feel guilty about. We all slip up at times, and its okay to do that.

Yes, in the perfect world we'd all be proactive rather than reactive. But, like I said, we have to learn to accept that we are not perfect and be okay with that instead of always trying to be a perfect parent, creating the perfect life for our kids and then feeling like shit when our life isn't perfect.

I guess since my comment has become a novel I'll also post it on my blog in case anyone else interpreted my TFT post negatively.

Michelle Leigh said...

I didn't look at it that way. It really doesn't matter how other people feel about the job you are doing as a mother. Really it's what you feel inside as a mother. There are days that I am ashamed at the mother I was for the day, but days like that make me try even harder the next. I try not to feel "guilty" because it's useless. My kids know I love them and would do everything to protect them. Really, in my mind that is what matters, not whether or not they had 3 square meals and or you played with them all day. Thanks for your response to Nicole's post.

jessica said...

Well, I'm way past Thursday, but this was a great post. I've been feeling so many of the same things you've been writing about.

To encourage you, Heather, as a mom I admire, I think you're always coming up with creative ideas to do with your kids. Snow in the house! How fun is that? I know it's just one example, but you have a fun spirit.

But I also appreciate the introspection and the desire to be your best. We know our own weaknesses and where we need to focus. I'm with you.

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