Summer Mama Guilt
First, let me say that I love summer! I wish I lived in a climate where spring came sooner and fall didn't get cold until at least November. I also love the slower pace of activities - no having to drop everything before 3 to pick the kids up from school and no harping about homework!
And I know that childhood is fleeting, and I want to spend as much time nurturing my children as possible.
But, I'm a WAHM mom with a business, and it's hard to find that work-childcare balance. Earlier this month I was awarded a book contract (yay! More on that in posts later this year); I have patterns in the pipeline for the back-to-school season, and I'm helping to organize a sewing program for kids at a great local quilt shop, where I'll teach in the fall.
So having time to work, play with the kids, make dinner, do daily chores, grocery shop, and spend time with hubby were starting to stress me out by week 2.
I began getting up before 6 to get an hour of work done before I allowed the kids to come down and eat at 7. I work until noon, make lunch, and then do a daily activity with the kids until it's time to make dinner. Frankly, by the weekend, I want to hide in my sewing room to work on personal projects, but usually I won't. I plan another family activity so we can get the most out of summer. And Sunday is church. And other family chores. And I feel like I never have a moment alone and always need more time to work.
Mornings are still riddled with "Mommy! I need this" and "Mom, I'm bored...."; "Mommy, can you find my such-and-such?" And my repeated reminders: "I'm sorry, Mommy needs to work in the mornings." And: "Can you please stop asking me for things? I'll play with you later" (and I do!) and: "You don't need to stop and chat every time you walk by the room!" (I do not have an office door).
Ugh. I know I'm not alone.
Then I remembered my summers as a kid. My brother is 8 years younger than I, so I didn't have anyone to play with during my youngest years. My mom did things with me sometimes, and we took an annual family vacation and occasional trips to the zoo, museum or amusement part, but usually I was on my own. I was to play outside when it was nice, and was not allowed to say "I'm bored." I wasn't allowed to pop in and out of the house - going outside meant staying there until it was time for lunch or dinner. Of course I was bored sometimes (even though I tried to remember not to say it out loud)! But it really did mold me into a person who's rarely ever bored as an adult. I developed artistic interests, read, wrote, crafted. I didn't go to activity-fill summer camps or have access to a pool. Yet I still loved summer.
To be fair, our one daughter has never been very good about playing alone...I think this trained me to feel like I always needed to entertain her. She has AD/HD and is a high-maintenance child. This is the not-so-secret family secret that I hate talking about, but her peers and teachers and most folks know (she even talks about it openly when she's not being defiant and pretending it's not so). And I know I'm not the only one who deals with the fallout from other issues associated with this medical condition. It's just our life, and I adapted by being Mrs. Activity Coordinator to try to prevent behavioral problems. And when friends would visit, I'd even come up with a craft for them to do to keep them busy. Even now, a morning outside means coming in every 10-15 minutes despite repeated requests to stay outside or find something else to do...and ideas about doing a big project that inevitably includes asking for my involvement.
Our other daughter has always entertained herself. When I started my bow business in 2006, she was just a few months old, sitting on the floor, playing, as I worked next to her. Yet I feel guilty leaving her to own devices! Back to playing Mrs. Activity Coordinator....because, I'm thinking: Am I a bad Mommy if I leave her alone and let her play? Am I ignoring her?
So, I took to my Facebook biz page. Was I a bad mom if I no longer wanted to schedule an activity with them nearly every afternoon - whether it be as simple as head to the local park, or hang out by the neighborhood pool? Was I really being a "Good Mom" by continuing to coordinate daily activities?
A teacher provided one of the best words of wisdom. She wrote, "(Kids) need to be truly bored to look inside and find their interests. That's what's so great about summer. The school year is too busy to give them time to learn who they are and where their talents may lie."
Maybe it's time to remove the guilt, do something special with the kids once or twice a week, and not feel like a "bad mom" if I also need to work in the afternoon on other days, or if I need the afternoon to do household chores. Or even if (gasp)...I simply need an hour to myself.
Maybe I'm not a bad mom if I let them be bored.
So, I'm working on this. I caught my youngest practicing her bicycling skills and my oldest sweeping the driveway today. Maybe some boredom will also lead to random and exciting acts of chore duty as well! Wish me luck....my guilty conscience will need it.