I want to start this off with letting all the parents out there know YOU ARE doing a great job. Don’t get discouraged with anything you read. Don’t hesitate to get help when needed. You are fantastic and beautiful and doing great!
Spending Time With Your Child:
I think the one thing that is most important about parenting is spending time with your child(ren) whether you are an at home mom or a working mom.
I am an at home mom and for me our daughter has always came first before any job, any person, even my husband sometimes. I recommend being an at home parent for several reasons. You DO get to spend that one-on-one time with them. You DO get to not miss any big steps or anything adorable that comes out of the mouths of babes. We are religious, so this might be too personal, but there’s a lot to be said for the at home mom. You are raising another one of God’s people that can make a difference in the world.
I think a lot of people do not realize how important spending time with their children really is. I don’t think people realize that by spending time with your child you are encouraging high self-esteem. You can promote independence. You can also help mold your child in to a wonderful, caring human being. Let’s be honest, the world really needs more people like that in it right now. I also feel like being an at home mom for me personally has allowed me to build a better relationship with our daughter and be there for her when she really needs it. I can go to school functions. I can drive her back and forth to school. I can take her back and forth to her gymnastics or ballet classes. It’s amazing and I feel so blessed to be able to do that for her and for our family.
To Work or Not to Work?
However, if you are in a situation where you have to work that is okay too. There is no wrong answer when it comes to working and providing for your family. You should feel so proud that you are providing for your family and able to bring in that income to do so. You get to make a difference in the world outside of the home. I know tons of parents who work full time and are able to spend every moment off with their kids. Their kids do not suffer, and their kids do not go without. I only recommend for a situation like that is to make sure when you are off work please spend as much time as you can with them. Do not pawn them off on other people because you need “alone time.” I hear that phrase way too often. I heard it more working in preschool/daycare, naturally. It makes me upset for the children. It hurts the children. It may not seem like it, but working in pediatrics and having young kids and teens come in from depression or anxiety from things like that always breaks my heart. There was always a lot of teens and junior high school aged children that needed anti anxiety medications. They really needed their parents around, but where were the parents?
My mom does preschool/daycare to this day. It amazes me constantly how many parents take their kids to the daycare on their days off. Why on Earth would you not want to spend that extra time with your child? Why would you want to give the daycare provider the opportunity to bond with your child more than you? I think the nanny/daycare provider/baby sitter is a wonderful thing. How special that you trust someone to help raise your child. However, please please PLEASE spend time with your child on your time off. It is so critical. I cannot express how critical it truly is. I know this from experience.
Now let’s talk about actually being an at home mom. Being an at home mom is not for everyone. When I did it the first time with our first daughter I went through post-partum depression. It was terrible. I needed an outlet because I felt like I was stuck at home with the baby and could not escape my own mind. I remember my daughter crying from being colic and I could not help her. I cried and cried. I would just lay there in bed with her bassinet next to me and her crying, and I did not even have the will power to move to help her. I am not proud of that, but at that moment I knew I needed help. I then got a very part-time job working retail, so I could be flexible and still be able to spend time with our daughter. Please feel free to do the same and not feel like you are less of a person for not being able to do that. Some parents feel the need to work. That is perfectly fine. If you are fine working outside the home go for it. I commend parents like that as long as, again, they spend their time off with their child.
Is There Such a Thing as Spending Too Much Time Together?
Okay at this point I know what you’re thinking. “She’s a hover mom.” Or you’re thinking “She’s one of those religious nuts who homeschools.” I am the opposite of a hover mom and my child goes to public school. Trust me. I am a full believer of I told my child not to do something and they want to do it anyway. Well when they get hurt that’s how they learn. I think public school is important for the social aspect as well as the opportunities given.
Is there such a thing as spending too much time with your children? How do you separate the difference between the helicopter mom and the mom that has the right amount of balance? I’ll tell you. You don’t! One of my very best friends is a helicopter mom and she is a fantastic mom. There is no right or wrong answer about your style of parenting. According to Baltrotsky’s article in the Huffington Post there is a fine line between constantly needing to entertain your child and just including them in every day life. I think that is the line that parents sometimes have a hard time defining.
Get Them Involved.
Let’s talk about that line. I love when my 5 year old has days off. I feel so excited to get her and I out of the house to go do something fun. Make some memories. I love taking her to the museum, or the park, or another form of the museum. I do a lot of hands on things with her. You may be asking yourself “Well I have no idea what to do with my child because of their age.” You can do a lot of age appropriate things at home. Even just playing a game or playing with characters (Barbie, Ninja Turtles, dolls, etc) at home is something that makes a difference. Honestly, We do not go do something fun EVERY time she has a day off. If we spend the day at home I do find something fun, like an activity, to do at home together. On days where I really need to get house work done she is so eager to help mommy. You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that your little one feels the same way. They just want to feel included and involved. Positive praise and encouragement go a long way. When my daughter was a lot younger just her helping me made her feel like a big girl. I have her help me with age appropriate tasks. You can do the same. If you get on Pinterest there are a ton of ideas for age appropriate chores/tasks you and your little one can do.
Now, if you have a baby where they’re not even walking let’s talk about that. Babies need to feel included and involved with what you’re doing just as much as an older child. Spending tummy time with baby is so important not only for developmental reasons, but for bonding between mother and baby. I would strap my baby to my body with one of those baby carrier things and walk around the house and do chores. It kept her feeling like she was not just left in the other room by herself. That is another way you can easily spend time with baby and get done what you need to get done depending on the age of the child.
If you have any other great ideas for age appropriate activities to get your child involved please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you about this topic.
I want to touch on television and putting your child in front of the t.v. without it being controversial. We are ALL guilty of this, myself included. Sometimes it is so much easier to just turn on the t.v. for every age group and have the t.v. “baby sit” your child. I am not saying don’t ever do this, but I am saying it should be limited and monitored. They say no more than 2 hours/day of electronics (t.v., tablet, cell phone games, etc.). Please be conscientious of this. We have our days where we are not great about this, but I do monitor it and make my daughter take breaks to go play in her toy room.
Working in daycare/preschool and in pediatrics I have seen the psychological damage of putting your child in front of the t.v. constantly does. I know this is going to sound cliche, but trust me when I say it does promote violence, and hinders growth and development. Regardless of whether or not your child plays “violent” games it does not stimulate the brain in a proper manner. Several clients from the preschool had children that spent a vass majority of time in front of the t.v. The child only focused on games they played with their video game console and pretend played video games when interacting with other children. It is always really sad. They always had a hard time making friends and keeping them. I could go on and on about this topic and things I saw and witnessed.
In pediatrics we would have children come in that it was the same situation. Then when we had the parents fill out a developmental questionnaire their child was always delayed for one reason: video games and spending too much time in front of the t.v. I just want to reiterate that I am not saying to never have your child watch t.v. or play video games. I love electronics. I love that you CAN use them for educational purposes. I am saying though it should be monitored and not be a daily activity your child engages in.
You Are Doing a Great Job!
I want to close this with reinforcing to everyone that whether you work or you are the at home parent make sure you spend an ample amount of time with your child(ren). They need you no matter what the age may be. They need the love and support of the people that love them the most in this world.