My kids post is a little different today. When I started blogging a couple months ago, I was adamantly opposed to writing any parenting “advice.” And this isn’t really advice. It is more of a response post to a text I got from my sister-in-law a few weeks ago. So take it or leave it.
I am certainly not an expert on parenting or raising kids. I am simply trying to provide perspective for those who are in the stage my sister-in-law is in, with little teeny tiny kids running and crawling around.
Her text was a request for a post on how to create a stay-at-home mom schedule/daily routine. She said,
“I feel like I don’t have a second to myself, yet have nothing to show for my day.”
I told her there was no way I could even attempt to make a schedule. Everyone has different priorities, different lifestyles, different sleep patterns, etc.
What came next shocked even me.
I proceeded to tell her exactly what my mom told me seven or eight years ago.
Are you ready for these words of wisdom?
1 – Raising kids IS your to-do list.
When my mom told me this, I rolled my eyes, and snapped back at her, “Well raising kids doesn’t get the dishes done!”
I was right. But she was more right.
It would be wonderful if, once we made the decision that raising our kids was the most important thing, everything else would magically take care of itself. But of course, we all know that isn’t the case. Do we still have to do the dishes and laundry? Do we still have to pay the bills, take out the garbage, and make dinner? You bet.
But if we drop the ball on one, two, or even all of those things, if our kids are alive at the end of the day, we have accomplished something! Cue eye roll, right? But I’m being DEAD. SERIOUS.
My sister-in-law’s struggle is mainly her being hard on herself. She feels like a loser when she realizes her husband is on his way home from work and the only thing she has to show for her day is a messier house than he left that morning. And that is literally ALL SHE HAS TO SHOW FOR HER DAY.
But here’s what she doesn’t realize. She has accomplished far more important UNSEEN things than seen.
Raising those babies IS her job. It IS her to do list. It IS her accomplishment. It is all of it.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if I had to do it all over again, I would listen to my mom a little more carefully…I wouldn’t feel so frustrated at the end of my day when there was nothing to show for it.
By the way, if you know me, you are probably wondering if this post was written by somebody else. No way would MELANIE say this! I am an incredibly productivity-driven person. I have lists for everything. I have lists within lists. I have different categories of lists. I have to-do lists for the day, for the week, for the month, for the year. I know all about wanting to be productive. I can’t just watch a movie. I need to be ironing or making headbands or cutting something out or making birthday party decorations or something WHILE watching the movie. I don’t just sit down and relax. Ever. I can’t. My brain doesn’t know how to do it. So this is REALLY BIG coming from me of all people.
This is a perspective issue. Let me give you an example.
This is going to sound so lame. But for the first time in I can’t remember how long, I decided that I was dedicating 100% of my day to my kids. My daughter’s best friend was moving and we had all 4 of their kids here from 8-4 so their parents could pack. My other daughter had Kid Kamp going on in the backyard in the morning. We had a couple extra kids on top of all of that. I told them I would bust out the cotton candy machine, do a barbecue for lunch, and just have a totally fun day. So I knew the second I woke up that I wasn’t going to get anything “extra” done. I was in total kid-pleasing mode from sun-up to sun-down.
And you know what? It was so much fun! It was so great to be the fun mom!
And…BONUS! I was even able to sneak in a couple loads of laundry inbetween stuff, and I even sat down at the computer for about 15 minutes and paid bills in the afternoon once most of the festivities were done and everyone was playing happily in the backyard and upstairs. I felt like I had stolen those 15 minutes from the day! It was a total win! I felt over-accomplished when in reality, I was the least “accomplished” I had been in weeks.
This just reaffirmed to me that it really is all about perspective. It’s about what you anticipate and hope to get done, versus what actually happens. If you set your expectations for absolutely nothing, then you’re never disappointed.
But here’s the cool thing. If your expectation is to love your kids that day, spend time with them, and keep everyone alive and relatively happy, you’re gonna start winning a LOT more in your own head.
Here is another bomb for you.
2 – Those days fly by, and you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
I am eating my words. Wow. I didn’t think I’d eat them so soon. My baby is 5 and started 1st grade a couple weeks ago, and I am suddenly wondering what happened to my babies. They were so dang cute! What I wouldn’t give for one of those days back. I’ll admit. I’m not sure I’d want to go back forever. Those days were HARRRRD.
But you know what? So are these days. They are hard in different ways. And also hard in more of the same ways that I didn’t expect. While I am not physically holding a baby or a toddler every second of the day anymore, I AM STILL taking care of kids and being a mom every second of the day.
I used to think how easy it sounded when my older sister said she felt like a taxi driver, and all she did was drive her kids around all day from school to sports to church, etc. Again… Eating. My. Words. This is JUST as hard as having 2 kids under the age of 2 was. It’s just different. But every bit as time-consuming and physically draining. And now they’re just not as cute!
My point is…once again…I wish I would have listened to my mom when she said, “ENJOY THESE DAYS. SOAK THEM UP. BECAUSE YOU WILL BLINK AND THEY’LL BE BIG KIDS.”
I didn’t believe her. But I blinked. And now my kids are big kids.
So…what do I have to say to my sister-in-law, and to all of you who might be in similar situations?
You are not a loser if all you have to show for your ENTIRE DAY is a messier house than the one you started with in the morning.
Are your kids alive? Did you feed them today? Did you tell them you loved them? Did you hug them? If you did these things, you have WAY MORE TO SHOW for your day than you might think.
And now I have a song for you to listen to (no need to watch the video…just listen). Get a box of Kleenex. And then go hug your kids. The dishes really can wait. Til tonight at least.