One common response I get when I mention that I stay home with my kids is “I’d go crazy having my kids around all day!” My reply? “Yeah. Me, too.” I’m not exactly built for this, myself. In fact, I’m pushing the curious hands of a toddler away from my keyboard as I type this. I’d really like him to go somewhere else for a moment, but that’s not happening. Which is the point of this post.
Unlike some homeschool bloggers I used to read, whose response was that you are a bad, bad parent for even thinking about needing a break, I can sympathize with that. Probably due to the mainstreaming of home education, the kind of internet mom who would say such a thing is now gone, or at least hiding—and good riddance!–and has been replaced with a kinder, gentler homeschool blogger. (Honestly, after reading some of them, it’s a miracle I ever decided to homeschool at all.)
There are plenty of practical ways to deal with children who need to entertain themselves for a while, and my favorite is to just tell them to go find something to do. Then I try not to fret too much about it when that something turns out to involve glitter, glue, feathers, and the cat. That’s the price you pay for peace.
But for moms of smaller children, practical solutions are few. You can’t tell a toddler to go put together a puzzle until you’re ready for him. (I mean, you can tell him anything you like, but he won’t do it.) With smaller kids, there’s simply a need for more hands-on attention. The reason my toddler was, until a few minutes ago, sitting on my lap and impeding my progress is because toddlers need physical touch. It’s just biological fact. This blog post might feel like the most important thing at the moment (since it is Friday, and that is what I do on Fridays), but little ones have a deep need to be mothered.
I’ve noticed something about my kids—even the bigger ones. No matter where I’m working, they immediately surround me. Sometimes they bring toys and books and play quietly around me. Sometimes they sit right on top of me. They have absolutely no regard for what I’m doing. This is not because they are selfish or spoiled, despite what some of the older generations may have believed, but because they truly need to be close to me, and nobody else will do.
As my children get older, the radius of the circle they create around me grows larger and larger. Eventually, they won’t need to be anywhere near me anymore to function. That is healthy, and there are moments when I truly look forward to the peace and quiet of having nothing but older kids. Right now, though, I am what my little ones need. That’s not a burden. It’s a privilege, and one I’ve taken for granted too often.
The only way to stop my kids from driving me crazy is to mother them even more, not shoo them away like a bunch of annoying flies. It’s hard to put down the work that seems so urgent and pay attention to the kids—who will, after all, still be there when the deadline for this post has passed–but when I can remember to put them first, it makes for happier children and, eventually, a more productive mom.
(And yes, I stopped writing this post several times in order to take care of the needs of my 4 children, so if you notice any typos or weird phrasing, that’s my excuse. )