There are days, weeks, months, even, where stay-at-home parenting can really wear you down. Nothing stays clean, tantrums happen at an alarming rate, nap times are missed. Been there, experienced that! But you know one thing that can really inject a little life back into things? Could it possibly be… more time at home with your kids?
Twice a week, there is an hour when my son is away at pre-school and my daughter is at home, but not yet down for her morning nap. That's our "Mommy and Me" time. We don't go out, we don't do chores; instead we stay at home, working on favorite things like art and crafts or dress-ups. We talk (as much as a just-2-year-old can talk) and we sit together. Sometimes we're in our pajamas. We're "homebodies" together.
It's incredible how just a designated period of attention on just one child at home can invigorate me as a parent. With me listening to her, she listens to me too! With me finally giving in to her requests to paint, there's no nagging! Things go smoothly! Things are fun! It's a time for me to remind myself "I can do this", and not just that I am capable, but also, "I am good at this."
So, how about it? Next time you feel exhausted, instead of (or as well as) taking a spa-day, what about spending an hour with one of your kids doing something they love to do. Give them all you've got. I don't think anyone's child needs to be 2 or under for this to work its magic, either. A 10-year-old kid craves special time with each of their parents just as much as a toddler; they just might not be so constantly vocal about it. Tell them "I've got an hour where I don't need to do anything else. What would you love to do today?" Give it a try.
This week my daughter Ivy and I made a sticker album together and, as she carefully peeled and pasted stickers back and forth, she laid her head on my chest and sighed. "Mommy," she said, "I'm happy when I think about princesses." Oh dear, she's only just had her second birthday. Is this really happening already? "Well, Ivy," I said "I'm happy when I'm with you."
And rather than feeling zonked in that moment, I really, truly, meant it.