One of the things I deal with as a work-at-home mom is “busy mommy guilt.”
I’m sure you know it. It’s that nagging, creeping feeling at the back of my mind and that tugging feeling on my heart that tells me I’m neglecting my kid. It hits me whenever I’m caught in a whirlwind of work… and my sweet little boy is looking up at me–wooden alphabet puzzle in hand–asking me innocently, “Mama, A-B-C.”
Can you relate with me?
I’m sure you can; we’re all busy moms, even those of us who have a horde of house help (and I am not one with hordes of househelp!). Of course we love our children. Duh. We know how to love them with hugs and cuddles, how to pepper them with kisses (no matter how big they get or how much they resist). We know what makes them tick, and to give in to that request for Stik-O once in a while, just to see that silly smile on his face.
Being a new mom at that, I’ve learned a few things here and there about showing love to my kid, even if I’m really busy. Let me share a few here with you.
1. Drop everything you’re doing for some one-on-one time.
I find myself having to drop everything just to spend another ten minutes playing with my son; he’s fine after that. It’s the fact that I take a break from whatever I’m doing that matters.
One-on-one time. This is as necessary for babies as it is for teenagers. I know, I was a teenager who wished for her parents just drop everything and spend time with me. They may not have done it perfectly, but they did it. Kids are like that: They need undivided attention. And more often than not, they need it when mom or dad are super busy.
2. Listen, don’t just hear them.
We as parents tend to try to fix things or correct our kids when things go wrong or insert our opinions and say “Because I said so,” or some cliche like that.
When I think about how I get this way sometimes, I realize it’s because I am still a young and naive parent, too. I think for once out kids would want us to just listen to what they have to say without us giving feedback or comments… unless asked. Instead, I need to stop… and just listen to my kid.
3. Validate their sense of discovery.
My kid is fascinated by everything. Even by the way the fridge door shuts on its own, or how lights magically turn on and off at the flip of a switch. I’ve got to appreciate that he lives each day in wonder about the world around him, even if it’s just in our little apartment. And I’ve got to seize each moment I can spend with him, because it’ll all go by so quickly!
4. Be silly with them.
I admit; I can get pretty cranky while I work. I hate it when I’m like that. So goofing off once in a while to dance around the living room or balance cups on my head is a great excuse for me to act like a child. The reward? The most satisfying laughter from my two year-old. No amount of work can justify missing that.
5. Seek to understand them in every way.
I am guilty of trying to be a “super mom” every now and then. Especially if I want to do things in a rush so I can get back to work! It’s not a good thing for my kid, especially if he wants things done a certain way–his way, and not mine.
Slowly but steadily, I’ve learned to let him do some things his way, even if it is not my preferred way. Like putting away his toys, for example: I know I can do it faster and more organized, but he feels so accomplished when he can do it on his own, no matter how messy his room still is after his apparent cleanup operation. It doesn’t make it wrong, anyway. (Chill, that’s the keyword here!)
6. Leave your routine behind–once in a while.
Sometimes my husband and I just want to chill with our son during the work week. And so we go out of the house, just to see new things or learn something new. It doesn’t have to be anywhere fancy; sometimes we just play ball with our son in the parking lot below our building! Other times, we hie off for a snack (which is more often than not a trip to the nearby kopi tiam place).
7. Instill value and confidence in them, in every way.
If there’s one thing I don’t want to screw up, it’s in bringing up my kid well. I want to help him succeed, to help him learn from his mistakes, to have faith in his abilities, to love God and others. I know that by giving him the undivided attention he needs–even when I’m super busy–I am building up his confidence day by day.
If there’s anything I want to accomplish in a day, its to help me kid know who he is: to know that he is loved, and to believe that he has unlimited potential. That won’t happen without my utmost support! Work can wait; time with my kid–never.
How do you escape those moments of “mommy guilt?” How do you show you kid you love and appreciate him, even if you’re drowning in work?