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Reality Check: Stretched Too Thin

Q  As a working mom, I don't have as much time or energy to spend with my 2- and 3-year-old boys as I'd like. How can I make up for this?
A It's smart to think about the time you spend with your children. We use the word "spend" in reference to time because it's costly, there's a limited amount of it, and once it's gone you can't get it back. But remember that you have your whole lives together. The way you're living now won't necessarily remain the same over the course of your boys' childhood. And if you show them you love them, even in rushed snatches of time, what they'll know is that Mommy works hard and cares a lot about her kids. That's not bad, is it?

If it makes you feel any better, my husband and I each work at home, and we still feel we don't have enough quality time with our kids. One solution we've found that may help you, too, is to establish a few rituals. This way, when we're tired and feeling guilty about the fact that we really just want the kids to go to bed, we don't also have to try to think of how to turn the next 27 minutes into quality time. Our family rituals structure those moments for us.

On workday mornings, when you're getting everybody ready, put on some upbeat music and dance through your routine. During dinner each night, take turns sharing the best and worst thing that happened to you that day (a ritual your 2-year-old won't start to participate in for another year or so). On Saturday evenings, you can make up for a long week apart by camping out together on the living room floor, watching videos and munching some cookies. On weekend mornings, invite the kids into your bed for a cuddlefest. Your boys will look forward to and remember these highlights, and you'll know you're instilling your time together with a wealth of memories and meaning.

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