What is any mother best at, besides loving wholeheartedly? Feeling guilty. And, of course, finishing all the ‘if only’s’ – If only I didn’t have to work, if only I could afford domestic help. Let us assure you, dear mothers, that your very best is good enough. If it involves cuddles, chatting and affirmation, it is definitely good enough.

You don’t necessarily have to spend huge amounts of time with your children, but you do need to set aside quality time for each of them. Being around your kids doesn’t necessarily mean that you are spending quality time with your kids.

Example 1
Quality time

A mother mentioned that she now has custody of her daughter every second weekend and that she is very prepared to give her daughter whatever she needs. She explained how much fun they are having going to the movies, restaurants and entertainment parks. When asked how the daughter was doing at her new school, the mom wasn’t sure and sounded vague.

You are not your child’s friend, but the Parent-in-Charge. Spending time with your child is not about entertaining your child but about being there to listen and to chat. This can of course be achieved on an outing, but the fun should not replace the one-on-one communication time.

You need to be involved in your child’s every day happenings. If you are available and approachable, it will just be a question of time before they start opening up. Make more time than usual when the situation calls for it, for example when it’s obvious that your child is struggling with something. If you have more than one child, make time for each child individually. It might take some juggling but it’s the best investment that you could possibly make.

Example 2
Over-and-above time

When a mother is asked by a family member why she isn’t seeing to her child’s needs, the mother in question answered defensively that she is seeing to her child’s needs. She explained that she makes his lunch, baths him, helps him with homework etc. – what more do they possibly want her to do?

As a mother your time will either be spent on basic needs such as feeding, bathing, reading a story, packing lunch or on the over-and-above kind of needs: Having a chat; Asking how that problem he was having at school is playing out; Playing a game before bedtime; Riding bikes together on a Sunday afternoon. It’s about you being tuned in and putting everything else aside to spend time with your child, not just about you fulfilling a basic need.

Sometimes you will need to prioritize. Be spontaneous – it’s totally acceptable to let the dishes pile up or leave the laundry unfolded now and then to give your time freely. The result is so much more fulfilling than having a clean house.

The crux of the matter
No sugar coating this!

Time with your child can not be yet another thing that you have to tick off your list. It needs to be an act of love. Okay, let’s get real: Mothers are usually depleted come evening time and more than prepared to skip dinner just to fall down on the couch and relax…

But life isn’t that kind to mothers, unfortunately. The title ‘Mother” comes with a list of responsibilities. The reality is that you chose to have kids and therefore you need to do x, y and z. You have to cook supper and it needs to be healthy most of the time. You have to check on their homework, be interested in what they did at school and tell that bedtime story. When you start seeing the value of what this means to your child and how your love and attention makes them grow and blossom, it becomes an act of love, not a duty. That being said, it is totally acceptable, no, actually recommended to have a night off every now and then and have them serve you.

What does your child really want?
He wants you!

An outing now and then will definitely score you some brownie points, but what they really need is your time and undivided attention. They need to know that you don’t want to be anywhere else than right there, listening to them, interested in what they have to say. Put your watch away; just follow their lead – it can be quite liberating!  The rules need to be bent occasionally and if it comes in the form of take-aways I’m sure no-one will raise any objections!

Practical tips for working moms
Making time

  • Work out a personal schedule and break all the little ‘tasks’ up –
    it might not feel so overwhelming. Plan your week ahead: Tuesday/ Thursday is story night, Friday is make-your-own-pizza night, short hike on Sunday afternoon. In this way time won’t fly away with all your good intentions.
  • Plan the week’s menu ahead of time and go for healthy but quick meals during the week days. All this planning might take up one whole evening but the rest of your week will flow pleasantly because of this and hopefully leave you with extra time.
  • Chat over bath time and catch up on their day (age depending, of course)Make a point of having supper or breakfast together and don’t be in a rush. Talk about your day and ask about theirs.
  • Most ‘normal’ mothers can’t wait for their kids to hit the sack. Take an extra five minutes to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight. It will make them drift off to Lala Land happily and peacefully.
  • Use your weekends to make up for lost time. Try to spend time with each child individually, even if it means taking her with you to the shop or the carwash. Opt for an outing like a picnic rather than a movie. This will create an opportunity for them to talk and you to listen.

Practical tips for stay-at-home moms
Conscious play

Contrary to what many may think, moms that stay at home do not have all the time in the whole wide world. They do not put their feet up and have regular tea parties. Raising your own children is generally much more grueling than a nine-to-five job – ask any mother!

  • Work out a weekly schedule: Chores, trips, outings, activities and play dates. If you don’t plan it this way, it’s very easy for your days to just blend together and turn into weeks without you sitting down and making time to consciously play with and talk to your child.
  • Young kids love helping mom in the house – involve them in the housework and turn it into fun
  • Find activities and games on the internet, sit down and partake
  • Do scrapbooking or crafts, bake cupcakes, make play dough
  • Have a tea party/picnic out on the lawn
  • Turn a rainy day into a festive occasion: Build a fort or a house with blankets. All you need is to apply some imagination.
  • It’s important to have some sort of routine/schedule in place, but it should be flexible to allow for some spontaneous outings

The topic of time spent with kids should not bring about a sting of guilt but encourage you to raise a confident child that feels loved and secure. Each household functions in their own unique way. While life can get overwhelmingly busy, it is important to take stock every now and then and re-arrange your time in such a way that your loved ones get their fair share. Because this is the true essence of life: Your family.