Raquel wanted to be the kind of parent who has time to read stories, draw and share hugs throughout the day with her two daughters.
But Raquel felt a mudslide of guilt descend on her every time she walked past her 2 year old daughter playing tea-sets alone.
It had been so easy to sit down and play with her 6 year old daughter when she was that age. Much easier to stop and play when you only have one child. But now there was so much to do with 2 children, a part time job, a husband who worked away. Her 2 year old seemed to sense it as well and was becoming more clingy and demanding at the busiest times of the day. She was taking hours to settle to sleep and coming into Raquel’s room throughout the night which was exhausting for everyone.
Relationships were getting strained and Raquel was losing her patience.
Does this sound familiar?
Your children may be different ages than Raquel’s children. You may work outside the home or you may not. Your partner (if you have one) may work FIFO – or not.
Deep down you want exactly the same things that Raquel wanted. To get most of the household jobs done and still have the time, energy and verve to play teasets. To give your little ones some attention so that they can sometimes play alone and don’t wrestle for your attention when it’s bedtime. To relish family life and feel at the end of the day that you have a reasonably tidy home plus a handful of beautiful memories of fun and laughter with your contented children.
Raquel tried leaving the laundry and dishes until the evening when the girls were in bed. But the Mt Washmore pile in the laundry soon became too much. She tried a strict routine for cleaning up toys before bathtime and no TV in the morning before school or day care. That worked a little better however when someone in the family was sick the routine came unglued and Raquel watched the good intentions drain away like soap suds in the sink.
What ended up working best for Raquel and her family was a timer on her phone. The next time one of the girls called for her help with dressing Barbie or cutting out shapes – Raquel committed to 5 minutes on the timer.
She found that just about everything except cooking on the stove could wait for 5 minutes.
The girls came to learn that mum would respond right away about 90% of the time. It astounded Raquel how quickly the girls settled for bed, could play alone for a while, completed small chores without fighting.
The type of overwhelmed mum-guilt you feel, like our friend Raquel used to feel, doesn’t have to be permanent. And it usually takes a small fix – implemented consistently – to make vast improvements.