Move. Move. Move.
And in the midst of the moving will come the mom cry. Mom, mom, mom, MOM. I’ll hear it. May I have cereal with milk? Will you read me a story? Can you play with me? Would you find me new shorts? When are we going? Can we got to the park? What’s for dinner? Do you like dinosaurs or tigers better? Are you listening to me?
I’ll mumble my answers, trying to look them in the eye and really listen, but I’m still the distracted mom or the in a minute mom. It’s that to-do list. That never ending laundry shouldn’t even be on it because it’s like breathing to-do list. It’s the to-do list of needed things, and important things, and valuable things that often is so huge and daunting and overwhelming.
I want to finish it.
My kids want me.
They don’t care about the to-do list or that organize the bathroom linen closet has been on there for 3.5 weeks. They want me. They want me to listen, to pay attention, to play with them, and to not see them through the lens of the never ending to-do list. Then I’ve become the distracted, preoccupied, and not living grateful with her to-do list in front of her not taking a break mom.
So hard. And I’m not very good at remembering it. I’ll tell myself things like when I get the laundry done then I’ll play legos with them and then next thing you know I find something else in the laundry room to do. And they’re waiting. They’re waiting for a mom who’s stuck in a cycle of perpetually busy and who keeps herself busy because of things that she wrote down that were important to accomplish.
The to-do list won.
It frustrates me if I go to bed at night thinking of all the things that I accomplished and then realizing that I didn’t accomplish the real important – that intentional time with my children. With those kids that are growing up right in front of me, the kids who see this crazy busy mom with a never-ending to-do list that some days won’t slow down a bit to allow them in her space.
I’m adding them to the to-do list.
Real time. Not fake time, not time where I’m supposed to be playing duplos in the room with Samuel and I’m actually sorting toys and semi-playing. No, I’m talking about real, intentional, laughing and enjoying the moments time. And I won’t feel guilty. Ever have that? When you know that you must stop your to-do list and then when you do you sit down feeling like you should be doing all that stuff on the list? I do.
Those hearts matter more than finishing the list.
You know what I’ve found? I’ve found that I actually accomplish more when I slow down a bit versus those days when I plow through the list becoming the crabby mom who complains about having to do all this work and grumbles about having a messy house.
It’s focus. It’s living awake. It’s being aware.
Put your family on the to-do list. Add a slot for each member and carve out the time for them. The nature of busy is that even if you think you’ll get around to playing with them or reading to them or taking the walk the reality is that unless it’s intentionally plotted it won’t happen. I don’t want to think back to these motherhood days regretting all the should have done moments and being irritated at myself for trying to keep a to-do list perfectly complete.
My kids will remember me. Not the list.
Put them on the list.
Great reminder Rachel. Thanks for that!
Great post! Thanks for the reminder! I to often push the kids aside because I’m trying to get that silly list done. Everyday I have to work at not telling them, “ok, just a minute.” They know that means I’m not coming, that’s I’m just tuning out. Why is it so hard sometimes to just be there for them? It’s my daily challange to put them first when that list is staring me down but when the days I let it go and focus on what the kids need as things come up, the days really do go better.
I’ll join you! I am guilty of this as well, I think every parent is at some point. There is always the “just after I finish this” but then something else comes up. And then something else. I am guilty of the fake play too, where I’m in the floor with my daughter, but I’m putting up toys or thinking of other things that I am not getting done. I agree…I’m need to be intentional with my family and my time. The to-do list will always be there and it is constantly growing no matter how much you cross off of it. Our children, however, will only be here for so long. I want to give my daughter memories of me, not waiting for me. Great post!
So timely for me, my friend! I only have one child, but my husband recently accepted an interim pastor position at a church in crisis with a school struggling to stay afloat. We also have a camping ministry which just retuned my husband from the road after 7 weeks out. I care for my mom who is 82 and I’m trying my best to build a women’s ministry which is in shambles. In the midst, I hear “Mommy, come watch me.”. Among the chatter I hear “Mommy, come sit with me.”. I’m learning, in those moments, turn it all off as best as I can and do it.
Thank you for this post!!
Can I say “ugh” and “thank you” at the same time? Such a heart issue, such a juggling of balance, such a priority of what’s most important… oh, those so many moments of “I HAVE to _____, then I can play with you”. The precious moments that have whispered by…
Still humbled by this challenge to live purposeful in the moment.
i thought about this last night as i was crying over sending hunter to preschool for three days a week starting in september. our church has an amazing christian school and we have the opportunity to send him there for free…. so that is cheaper than homeschooling. but anyways, i’ve thought about the last three years of his little life and wondered if i spent my time well with him at home every day. i know i certainly don’t look back and wish i had vaccummed more. so yeah, i have had this on my mind. i hope i’ll always remember the real-importants!
I’ve been working on that the past few weeks… not worrying about everything that has to be done, not being “present” online all the time… but spending time with the kids. And dare I say, I’m happy and feel that we’ve had some wonderful times together. School is going to start before I know it and the two big ones will be gone all day… now it’s time to make it count! 🙂
I’m going to join you!! 🙂 I have really struggled with this in the last several months. When I try to play with the kids, the list nags in the back of my mind and robs us all of the moment together. Thank you!!
Know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers!
Psalms 61:1-4 Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.
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What if the issue isn’t necessarily being “too busy” but really not enjoying playing? I have three little boys, and there are some things that I enjoy doing with them: reading stories (well, 3 or 4 anyway), painting, card games. But there are so many more things that I really dislike doing. “Playing Legos” is top of the list. And it seems like that is ALL they want me to do, lately. So I end up feeling perpetually guilty because either I say no, or else I do it and hate it and probably do it badly. How do you handle those sorts of situations?
A while ago I wrote a post it note and stuck it on my computer screen. It reads “Just 15 min? 15 min is Better than No :)” Any time my kids have asked me if I can “do” something and I’m feeling like it’s going to detract from my busy “schedule” I try to think “Do I have 15 minutes?” Generally the answer is yes. Most activities they want me to do with them, don’t really take more than 15 minutes. A story, card game, activity – whatever it might be 15 minutes seems very manageable to give them of my undivided time. And usually that card game does last more than 15 minutes, but that’s not the point at that point. It just helps me find the time to do something one on one (and with 4 kiddos that’s a minimum of 1 hour a day!) Just keeps it in perspective though. They just want 15 minutes of your time 🙂
I cannot tell you how much I needed to read this.
Thank you so much. I love your blog. My sister posted this blog-post from you on Facebook and I really needed to read it… I’m putting my kids on the list, right now!
Greetings from Holland, from a mother of four precious girls.
Yes – oh yes!
Hi!!! I just found your blog and this is one of the first post I have read!!!
My mom had eight children there was twenty years between the oldest and youngest and she was a perfectionist, I never remember sitting down and playing with me or reading to me and the few times I remember her actually going out with me when I was older she spent the entire time talking about how she didn’t have time to be doing whatever it was we were doing and she needed to get home…….. It always hurt my feelings!!! Now as a mom with two very busy little boys and the perfectionist I have become I often find myself getting “busy” with the laundry or dishes or whatever that at times I put off my sweet boys but I remember my own childhood and sometimes NOT always but sometimes change my no into a Sure lets do…….
Love this post and also can be applied to your spouses as well such as Date Nights!