When children feel genuinely loved, their whole world looks brighter. Their inner spirit is more secure and they are far more like to reach their potential goal for good in the world. – Dr Gary Chapman, Author.
Be nice to your kids. One day they’ll choose your nursing home. – Phyllis Dillion
I notice that as life gets more busy as it always does, especially with 4 children, my children start throwing more tantrums, and I get more exhausted. It occurred to me it was their way of getting my attention, negative or positive attention didn’t matter, as long as it attention of sorts. I then realised that they needed more one-to-one quality time. 30 minutes of one-to-one time with my 4 year old daughter changed her mood for the rest of the day – that surprised me. My little investment was worth it. She had her love tank filled up, and her ability to cope with her 3 brothers was better than normal and she was a more amicable child. She laughed and giggled and ate her dinner. It is not always easy to find that one-to-one time. I struggle everyday but I try hard, and it is not always possible.
I always thought numerous playdates was a good thing, and don’t get me wrong, they are great, but I forget the children don’t always want other children. They want ME, their mother, to play with them and too many activities robs them of quality time. They seek my attention. Rob Parsons, in his book, Heart to Success, tries to teach parents between the balance of work and family life. From when our children are born until they are 18, he explains, we only have them for 6,575 days, and no amount of success, money or prestige can buy us more one day. If your child is ten years old, you have 2,922 days left.
As I struggle with energy to feed the four children their dinner, and get them ready for bed, I always imagine in 20 years time I would crave for one more of these nights, and that gives me more positive energy to carry on. There are nights I am tempted to tell the nanny to put my children to bed because with a 7 month old baby who still wakes in the night, I am exhausted by 7pm. However, my end goal is that I want my children to have the memories of my husband and me putting them to bed. I am not trying to win a parent award but I know that in years to come, this will be all that matters in the end.
Cutting down the use of my phone, laptop and ALL technology. This is the area I struggle with most. I try hard to reply to all emails for my husband’s business, personal etc but I now try where possible from 3pm – 7pm not to work or use my phone allowing myself to check only once or twice for any urgent issues. I know people get frustrated with me as I now can only get to my computer twice or three times a week to respond. Apologies to you all.
I am cutting down certain activities that I enjoy. I love playdates because it means a chance for me to see my friends too, but I try to limit them so I can try to be in the moment with my children. I know that I ended up chattering with my friends, and my older three children keep begging me to play with them on the beach. Otherwise, I choose more interactive playdates with children and parents.
I have tried to cut down on birthday parties that my children attend to protect the weekends as a family. With 4 children, that is a lot of parties. I think my children will remember an afternoon fishing with their dad rather than the countless birthday parties that all seem to blur together. I cannot win prizes with other mothers at school, and I have to strike a balance because otherwise it means on weekends I abandon my other three children to take one child for 3 -4 hours unless I choose that moment as my quality time.
I have also cut down on after school activities because I am trying to spend more time as a family unit rather than racing up and down the motorway. It’s 20 minutes there and back plus an hour activity so that is nearly 2 hours away from my other children too.
These are my goals over the next couple of months. I have no doubt there will still be many moments I will struggle to juggle and balance but I forgive myself and start afresh again the next day.