When you are a parent, and particularly one who stays home with the kids, there is a lot of pressure to plan activities and generally entertain. If my kids were in school they would play outside, have circle time, do crafts, have different sensory activities, and do whatever other fun things that were scheduled. Since they are home with me, in a way, I feel like I need to compete with that type of schedule and keep them stimulated.
The problem is, I’m not a daycare teacher and while I am taking care of them, I am simultaneously trying to take care of our household and all the things that it requires. I have no idea how working moms keep their houses clean, do the laundry and fill the fridge because I am home all the time and I can barely pull it off.
I’m not going to lie. My kids have a lot of free play in our family room where they just rummage through the bins of toys in the cubbies. I also have Disney Junior on the TV for a big chunk of the day. Even if they aren’t watching it, they are much happier people with it on in the background.
I just don’t feel like this open play is enough though. When Mr. Man naps, Little Miss and I play board games or Legos or make dresses out of Play Doh. I set up painting projects every now and then and I enlist the kids in helping me bake (if possible). And now that it is warm, we play in the baby pool, in the sprinkler, or with bubbles or sidewalk chalk.
Sometimes I take the kids to the beach, or the mall and we have a play date here or there. We play in the bathtub and we read books and bounce on the bed at night. WE have all these activities that are a part of our days and I still feel like I need to do more. I feel like I am dropping the mommy ball when I stand in front of the sink, washing another ten tons of dishes. I feel like I am letting Little Miss down when I spend Mr. Man’s naptime folding multiple baskets of laundry.
It is easy to lose yourself in parenting. I desperately want to give my kids the world and I am all too willing to sacrifice myself to do it. But that doesn’t make me a good mom. That makes me stressed out and personally unfulfilled while my kids grow needy and entitled. It is hard for me, but I need to remember to keep a balance. The second I start doing something for myself or some chore around the house, the kids start whining and complaining and nagging and pulling on my legs, but how else will they learn that the world does not revolve around them.
I don’t want to raise kids that think the only way to be happy is to be constantly doing new exciting activities and shuttling from one amusement park to some play date to the beach and then the pool. Those activities are great, but I think it’s ok to bum around the house sometimes and do very little. I want them to learn how to entertain themselves and be content, no matter what the situation.
We aren’t there yet. They still get bored and upset pretty quickly and it is just the end of the world when I need to cook dinner, but one day I hope they grow to be well-adjusted people who look back on their childhood and all the fun they had whether it was hanging around the house or splashing around Sesame Place. I hope that they will know that I did my best, because that is what they will always deserve.