Here's the simple truth, I really don't like statements like this: "They are only young once", "The house can wait, but the kids can't", "Take time to play, the laundry can wait another day" and so on. Why? Because, really, they are lies HA!
I love my boys. Lots. I love to see them learn new things, explore everything they can, play all day, and experience life. I love to interact with them and sometimes despise that they are growing up so fast. Yet, no matter how hard I try, I can't stop progress (nor do I really want to) and, even by taking pictures, writing down funny things, and grabbing the video camera, guess what . .. I won't catch or remember every detail of their life. I've slowly learned to let go of that unrealistic idea that I COULD catch every moment. When Josh was born, I tried to take a picture of him every single day so that I wouldn't miss a thing . . that eventually fell by the wayside and now I'm intentional about getting the camera out as often as possible, at least every other day, and we try to use the video camera at least every few weeks (we are not big video people). It is fun to look back and see how much they have changed or the funny facial expressions or the fact that we used to call Nate "Chicken skin" because his skin was so thin. I realized as I was scrapbooking
But what about all of the times that the boys say "Play, mom, Play. Please?" By all of the time I mean once an hour all day long. I would like to defunk a few of those previous statements. First, the whole thing about the fact that house cleaning can wait. Do you realize that if I keep putting off cleaning my house, I will eventually be on an episode of hoarders HA! Now THAT would be a memory for my kids, wouldn't it? I DO have to clean my house. I try to break it up over the entire week so I don't spend an entire day cleaning but rather 30-60 minutes throughout the day. My house is cleaned, picked up and sometimes organized so that the kids (and adults) can enjoy being in the space. Second, the Laundry. I don't know about you, but if I don't do laundry on a regular basis (like almost daily) I cannot catch up for DAYS not to mention that we run out of clothes very quckly! Laundry doesn't take a lot of time, really, I have assigned a "type" of laundry to each day, leaving Wednesday as my catch up day, and normally I only do 1-2 loads a day. Not that big of deal. Of course, the famous "they are only young once" - you are right,they are, but in each phase they go through, it is so much fun to see the NEW things. Sure, we miss the old times of holding a newborn, or teaching them to walk (I will be SOOO glad when they are potty trained - seriously) but the new adventures are just as fun, if not more sometimes.
What about the guilt? The guilt of not spending every moment playing with your kids or feeling like maybe you missed a teaching opportunity. For me, I thought back to my own childhood (because I wanted to make sure I wasn't scarring my kids for life HA!) I realized that I don't have these memories of my mom dropping everything to make sure I was entertained but rather, I learned to entertain myself, knowing my mom was there to spurn my creativity. I also have memories of our family doing things together both at home and elsewhere - bowling always stands out even though we didn't bowl for years and years, but we did have fun the few times we did. I also have memories of family dinners, game time, and just laughing lots. For me, I realized that I don't need to be my boys entertainment. I want them to learn to play by themselves and to get along together. Sure, I get on the floor and play trains and trucks with them several times a week or we all go outside and I play baseball, do wagaon pulls, and throw balls around but I also read alot while they play :-) I don't think that by taking time to clean my house, read a book, or even work on some project, I'm missing out on my children's childhood but rather I am part of it by talking to them while they play, laughing at their antics and just being there for them (Plus, they love to help me clean - dusting, sweeping and vacuuming are some of their favorites!). Something else I've started doing is having my daily devotions in front of my kids instead of in the quiet of the morning. I love that they want to know what I'm doing and are interested in what I'm reading. I am also trying to be intentional each day and by that I mean I am planning at least one activity with each of the kids each day. With Nate right now, it is the mornings. He is usually the first one of the kids up so he and I get time alone in the morning -we cuddle, talk, and laugh. Josh and I get time after the little boys go down for naps. As he is getting older, I'm focusing more on learning activities (you can read my Mommy Time posts HERE) but it still takes planning. I also try to plan one family focused activity a week whether it be learning how to kick a ball to having a movie/popcorn night to going to the zoo or park.
So, can you let go of the Mommy Guilt? I still have days that I wonder if I'm doing enough but, then I stop to see what I am doing and realize, I'm ok. I liked this concept that I heard months ago - If you try to make every day special, there will be no special days. It is near impossible to plan every day to be a memory BUT if you plan memories to happen on certain days, your children will have just that, memories to carry with them forever. Do you remember every day from your childhood? I know I don't but I do have lots of great memoreis that are built on planned and non-planned moments.