“Do not put that in your mouth!” These were the words I exclaimed during B’s bath the other day. She had just put her sister’s shampoo bottle in her mouth and I, for emphasis, started off that sentence with her first and middle name (typical mom move).
To me, it made perfect sense to say what I did. She knows better and soap doesn’t taste that great anyway.
To my daughter, though, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back on a long day and she burst into tears. And not just tears that happen when a toddler is told no. These were gut wrenching sobs. My husband gave me a little look that was like “too harsh, Katie,” but the damage was already done. We went separate ways to finish up the girls’ bedtime routines, which we’ll do every night until they’re old enough to enjoy the routine together.
After B was settled into bed, Reece came into M’s room and sat on the floor to check in while she finished nursing. He went on to share that he noticed I was being pretty negative all evening. While nothing I said it did was terribly out of line, there were a lot of “no’s” and “don’t do that’s” that came out of my mouth.
I am glad he said what he did, because I was already thinking it. Side note, that’s one thing I really appreciate about our marriage. We have a mutual agreement to let the other person know if they’re acting a certain way and agree not to take it personally or be offended by it. We both want to be the best parents to our girls and partners to each other. That’s a whole other post for a different day, though,
Back to how I was acting, I knew I was being pretty uptight. Life has been nothing short of crazy lately, between Reece’s work and my photo sessions, let alone entertaining two children during the day, trying to stay on budget and the impending holidays. The last few weeks I was feeling the pressure and that night it became clear that it was really starting to show.
You’ve probably heard the saying “let them be little.” it’s a good phrase meant to remind us adults that kids should be allowed to be young. Childhood is so fleeting and there are many outside influences that make our kids grow up to soon, we need to remember that they need time just to act their age and learn things on their own.
I recently heard a quote from Pope Francis that I like even more than “let them be little.” He says: “waste time with your children.”
I like this not only because it reminds us to let the kids do things that we might consider a waste of time, it also encourages parents to engage with their children and play with them.
I also like this saying because by “wasting” time with your kids, you are not really wasting time. With every (seemingly) 200th sip of pretend tea, you are fostering your child’s creativity. When you chase your toddler around the kitchen table for hours on end, you are creating memories of screeches and giggles and a happy childhood. And when you continue to build block towers, only to have them destroyed later, you are building a stronger relationship with your baby (who’s not really a baby anymore, let’s face it).
Yes, I know that was probably super corny but you have to admit that it is true.
It is really easy for me to forget the importance of this. There are dishes that need to be done! Laundry is constantly building up at our house. And in this busy time for family photos, there are always sessions that need to be edited. It is hard to balance it all and still be enthusiastic about playing with B. But I have been trying much harder to be present and have fun since the reality check of that one night. I would like B to know me as a mom who had fun and spent time to play with her, so maybe one day when she’s a mom she will want to do the same thing.
For the other parents out there…is this something you struggle with? What do you do to stay present with your children?
‘Til next time,