I have a confession: I like working. I actually really like working. I’m not the mom that is working because she has to (even though that’s true too…I do have to). I do not believe I was called to be a stay at home mom. Those moms are awesome (HOW DO YOU DO IT!?! I am in awe!), but that is not me. Sure, I’d like to work less…30 hours a week sounds great. But…at my core, I need to work.
So. Here’s the thing. About a month ago, Harlyn started saying things like “Mommy, I miss you.” Which, of course I responded to with, “I miss you too! But it’s almost the weekend!” I thought it was just a temporary thing. But now it’s almost every day…”Mama, I miss you,” “Mommy, I miss you when you don’t put me down for my nap,” and “Mommy, I miss you when I’m asleep in my bed and you are in yours. I wish you could sleep in my bed with me.” And it’s starting to give me a complex.
I barely see the kids on weekdays. In the mornings, I’m getting ready for work, feeding Maverick and then pumping, and doing my devotional. I’m certainly not spending any QT with my babies. Then we come home for lunch, but we’re basically slamming a sandwich and heading back out the door. And then it’s 5 PM . So really, there’s 5-8 PM…much of that spent on eating dinner, baths, and bedtime routines. Technically, that’s time with them, but it’s not a whole lot of real play time.
Doubt starts to creep in. Not doubt about working, really. I know that working is the right choice for me. But doubt that my kids see me enough, know they’re loved enough, see a Mom who can work and still care for their family. And I wonder: does anyone else feel these things? Do other mommies have preschoolers who talk a LOT about missing them? How do they respond? Should I try to spend more time with just Harlyn? When would that even happen?
I hope Harlyn knows I’m trying. I hope she realizes that I’m doing the best I can, and trying to be the best I can. I want her to know that I miss her too. That even when she drives me crazy, or I’m buried in some work issue, that I adore her and Mav, and that I love them to pieces.
It’s a balancing act, this whole working mom thing. So I figured I’d better think back to my own childhood and figure out how my own sweet mommy was able to work full time while making sure my sister and I felt loved and cared for.
#1: Making work a priority, but not the only priority
I knew it was important for my mom to go to work. BUT I also knew that if I was sick or I truly needed something, or she would be there. Truthfully, she still is today. She has two grown daughters, but I know if we call or text her at work, she’ll answer. I try to SHOW UP for Harlyn in the same way. If she’s having an event at school, Brandon and I leave work to attend. The bike rodeo, the book fair, picking her up from school every once in a while “just because”…these small things show Harlyn that she’s a priority in my life.
#2: Include the kids in the everyday tasks
My sister texted my mom and me just the other day, asking what the name was of the grocery store was that we used to go to on Saturdays to get the special Caesar salad and delicious bread. How funny is it that we both remember Saturday grocery shopping as a special thing? Years later, we’re thinking of the “good old days” as trips to grocery stores and Target with our MOM! That’s definitely do-able for me too. I can strap Harlyn in to the car seat for a jaunt to grab some dinner, or B can take her up to the corner store to pick up the eggs we ran out of…and we can count that as QT. Win/Win.
#3: Take Ten
This past weekend, we were trying to get everyone ready for the day when Harlyn asked if I would play Barbies with her. I told her no, I couldn’t right now. A little later when I put Maverick down for his nap, I just got this feeling that playing Barbies for a few minutes was really important. So after Mav was asleep, I went to find my girl and asked if she wanted to play. She was so excited I’d asked! We only played for 10 minutes before we had to get hair done, teeth brushed, and the diaper bag packed, but those 10 minutes mattered. I know that my mom did stuff like that all time growing up. She would stop in the middle of getting dinner ready to help with homework. She would read us a book even when there were a million chores to be done. I’m so grateful that she chose little moments with us over and over again…and I will do the same for my kids.
Help me out, working mommies! I’d love ideas and tips on how to make the most of the precious time I have with these kids.