Dear Auntie A,
I have always prided myself on making sure everything in my children’s lives was as perfect as could be. I have made sure they all had ample opportunity to take sports and music and even art classes for the youngest, but I am never able to get it together to cook at home and have everyone together at least once a day. It seems I live in my car and truthfully the only “me” time I have is at the gym after I have dropped them all off at school! Lately my husband and the children have been complaining about the drive thru food service but I am just exhausted. What alternatives could you give me to make this work better and me feel less like a less than perfect mom?
Well first of all you nor your children nor anyone else is perfect. This idea that you have about being a super mom is unfortunately a role that mothers find themselves in all to often. They think that by being able to offer each child multiple extra curricular activities that they will have achieved a pleasant memory when their children look back on their childhood. They secretly think they will somehow win a super mom badge after spending all those hours in carpool, waiting for karate to be done and off to ballet but most of the time the children could care less. What they want is time with you and your husband. Now, don’t get me wrong…I think children need activities and that gives them the opportunity to grow in ways that they may not find in an academic setting but your problem lies with double scheduling the children each season to the point that no family time can occur. It’s a plum wonder you have not gone mad! LOL. Here’s what you might consider. Ask each of the children what the one thing is that they would like to do. Give them one activity and then see if you can coordinate them so that in the fall say your eldest can do football while the baby takes art and you have time in the middle for some one on one time with your daughter. The next semester perhaps take your daughter to ballet and then your son takes a break so he has some one on one time with you. This way each child will have had the opportunity for an activity and you will have had special time with each of them and hopefully by pulling that much off your schedule you can cook a few nights a week for family time. You also might try taking one afternoon and cooking for several days worth of meals, I know a lot of mothers who do that and it frees them up on busy activity afternoons to pop a home cooked meal in and everybody still can come together and eat something healthy. Bottom line is you want to also look back on these busy years and feel like you made a difference in their lives. Spending one on one time will be what’s remembered more than anything by both you and your children!
Alisa Murray, aka “Auntie A,” is an a-winning columnist and fine-art photographer. She holds a BS in Psychology