Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being invited to participate on SAfm Afternoon talk with Nikki Bush, discussing 21st Century motherhood and the challenges we face as busy, working mom’s, how it’s changed our parenting and the struggles we face daily.
The struggle is real you guys, but I’m sure you know that. As a working mother, I constantly feel like I’m giving away pieces of myself to everyone and everything around me, with very little to keep for myself and the guilt, at times is overwhelming. I feel guilty when I’m at work and I know one of my children needs or wants me, I feel guilty when I’m racing out of work because one of my children needs me and I can’t give my employer the time they need from me. As a working mom, I often feel left out (of my own doing) from the fun at the office, mostly because when everyone decides to have an impromptu gaming and beer session on a Friday afternoon at 4pm at the office, I have to be racing out of their to ensure I’m home by 4:30pm to relieve our nanny. It’s a constant juggling act and I often feel overwhelmed by the number of balls I’m juggling at any given time.
I also find that arriving home, and switching gears from working woman to mom difficult. My children are always happy to see me and weave around me, demanding my attention from before I’ve even removed my key from the ignition of my car, filling my ears with stories of what happened at school and demanding my attention on their latest art project or the like. And really, most days, all I want is to go to the toilet, on my own, and take a moment to catch my breath and switch into mom mode before being bombarded with the needs of my children.
Does that make me sound horrid?
During the radio interview yesterday, we were discussing the importance of quality time that builds bonds with our children. Nikki was talking about the importance of building that emotional bond now, while our children are still young, so that we can effectively parent them as teenagers when they become way more willful and less likely to bond with us, if that bond is not already formed.
Khanyi, the radio presenter, asked me how I ensured that I spent quality time with my girls and honestly, I felt so lame when I told her that quality time for us is often really just doing mundane every day things together, some of our favorites include:
Washing the car together (what my husband and children were doing while I was being interviewed)
Having the girls sit at the kitchen table and chat to me while I cook our supper
Baking together, although I do the baking and they mostly lick the bowls and throw on the sprinkles
Building puzzles together
Getting them to help me pack their lunches
And one of our favorites – Friday night braai night, where we hand out on the patio together, listening to music and dancing together
It all sounded so mundane and I felt awkward sharing it. But really money is tight and time is in short supply so we rarely have an opportunity to do extravagant things together.
But then Nikki mentioned something which made me feel a whole lot better. She was saying how new research is showing that children are being raised almost institutionalized these days, with the pressure on modern parents and work schedules, more and more parents are sending their children away from the home for quality experiences and time. That the average modern parent spends 3 hours a day with their child and that given the shortages of time, the best way to form emotional and lasting bonds with our children is by doing exactly what I have been doing.
That getting children involved in household tasks as part of quality time is not only cherished by kids later on, but also teaches them valuable life lessons and forms a bond. So even if it’s going to take 5 minutes more to make my bed because my 3 year old wants to help me, it’s an important activity for her and it’s an opportunity to have some quality time together during an otherwise hectic day.
It was also interesting for me to learn that quality time far outweighs quantity time. So if time is in short supply, but you can be in the moment and in that space with your child, even if it’s for only 20 minutes, its an opportunity to nurture that emotional bond.
Do you also struggle with the challenges of modern parenting? Are you also overcome with guilt about fitting in quality time with your child? What activities do you do in your household to get a few minutes of quality bonding time together?
I had such an A-ha moment yesterday afternoon, after the radio interview, I’m doing ok. My guilt is a completely wasted emotion, my children are ok, they are emotionally attached to me and we manage to get in a bit of quality time in everyday.