Sometimes my three-year-old and I sound alike. If you listened long at our house, you’d hear a similar mantra..No!
It’s funny, but no one told me how often I would say no as a mother. Of course, it is essential to say it many times a day to a toddler or preschooler as they learn the ropes. But I have noticed (and have been saddened lately) by how often I say no to my kids’ requests to spend time together.
Oh, it’s not always “no,” of course.
Not right now
After I ….
How about tomorrow?
The list goes on and on. And the tension so many of us struggle with is that things DO need to get done. Our kids sometimes DO need to wait a bit. (Just a second, buddy. Mommy’s wiping someone’s bottom!)
But sometimes they don’t.
As I’ve noticed this happening around our house, I have been thinking of making a few changes.
I will still say no. To other things.
I will say “not right now” to the dishes.
I will say “maybe later” to the laundry.
I will say “after I push them in the swing” to the vacuuming.
I will say “how about tomorrow” to emails.
And you know what? I will never see the dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and emails shrug their shoulders in sadness at my neglect.
Don’t get me wrong. I still like to have a clean house. I still do have to get my chores done sometime. The laundry and meal prep are inevitable. I am not suggesting running around naked and eating frozen pizza to be at a child’s beck and call.
But wouldn’t it be great to put down the glass cleaner and join a princess at a tea party?
Don’t get me wrong. My kids ask me to play lots of things I’d rather not play. I dislike playing with grasshoppers. I am not a big fan of playing with Hot Wheels. And my idea of a Lego creation is a rainbow tower of all of the two-pronged pieces.
But it matters to them. And they matter to me.
You know what I have found incredibly useful in this venture? A timer (or a time limit). I set the timer, or look at the clock, and note 10 or 15 or 20 minutes. I am theirs for that bit of time. Then I can go back to the laundry. Sometimes I tell them, “Mommy has 10 minutes to swing with you, and then she needs to start making dinner.” Sometimes I mentally set the time so they don’t have to know how much I do NOT want to play pirate.
Whatever the case may be, find a strategy that works for you, and try to put off a thing or two to spend more time with your kiddos. I know I am renewing my effort to do so at my house.
Because yes is the new no.