I used to write for Philly Moms Blog, which doesn’t exist anymore, or does, but in a different form, as its parent organization, Silicon Valley Moms Blog, has been taken over by Technorati and though I had every intention of hitching my wagon to that star, I just never got around to it. Which is another way of saying, I reckon, that I didn’t want to. Enough. Or something.
In order to have had my Philly Moms Blog content moved over to Technorati, where it could live on the web in perpetuity, I would have had to have written something by Monday. But I didn’t. See pararaph 1.
I’ve probably reposted this here before, but just in case I didn’t, and because I’ve got nothing else to bring to this party today:
Divide and Conquer: One-on-One Time with Kids Might Save Your Life
During the course of normal parenting life, it’s not uncommon for us to feel spread too thin. More often than I’d care to admit I find myself making lunches for the next day, overseeing homework, fixing dinner, feeding the dog, loading the dishwasher, and talking on the phone all at once. One child wants help with math problems and the other one stubs her toe, my daughter spills paint on the floor and my son is tugging on my arm to ask if he can go ride his bike, they both want a snack and dinner is in an hour but I can’t remember if anybody has eaten since lunch so, sure, why not, but wait? Is that a good idea?
Instead of conscious action, parenting with purpose, I am forced into a mode where I only react to immediate needs as they surface. In the end, everybody feels shortchanged and while I suspect that most of the time it’s me, the nagging guilt that tells me that one of my kids is losing out looms. I know how valuable that time invested with my son working through his vocabulary words is. I know that my daughter has waited all day to have fifteen minutes to show me that she can paint a butterfly just so. I know that my kids deserve my undivided attention in a way they aren’t getting it. In fact, mostly what they’re getting is a stressed out and impatient mom. Instead of delighting in the time I spend with my kids, it starts to feel like a chore and that recognition only serves to up my stress level and my guilt. Ah, stress and guilt, that lethal cocktail of parenthood, served up almost daily in homes across the land.
We’re stuck in this trap of thinking that “family time” is critical. Conventional wisdom tells us that there is no substitute for quality family time in terms of building strong relationships and secure, successful children. New stories regularly report on the research about the benefits of family dinners and family traditions. But really, when we let go of that insistence that family time is necessarily best, and spend one on one time with our kids, everybody wins.
My husband took each of my two kids up to the Poconos for a day of skiing over the past few weeks. On the days that he and whichever child he was with were gone, I got to be one-on-one mom with the other. When they got home from their day’s adventures, my husband and I compared out notes. He took them on an outdoor adventure, and I just did my same old mom thing with one kid instead of two, but we had the same experience. In the spaces left by the absence of the other kid and the partner, we got the good stuff. I got to remember who this remarkable child is and why he is so remarkable. I learned about the new girl in the kindergarten class and how my baby got to be her “special friend” for the first week. When it was just the two of us over dinner, I heard all about how she likes to dance to Sleeping Beauty best at ballet. Spending the day on the slopes or hanging out at home, we both felt like we’d spent the day as the best parents we could be: conscious, deliberate, patient, and listening with both ears.
That slowing down of the parenting pace, even briefly, and even sporadically, is like money in the bank for the next day when I am, again, called upon to make three different dinners for three different finicky eaters, walk the dog, gather the soccer gear, and help glue 100 cheerios onto posterboard for the 100 day celebration.