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There’s moms out there who do have it all together. There’s moms out there who try to have it all together. And then there’s us: the moms who know we don’t have it all together and make no attempts to showcase anything different. We simply just DON’T have our shit together. We live by means of survival and smiles that say, “It’s fine – I’m fine.”
“It’s fine – I’m fine.”– moms everywhere
When you’re a mom who works a full time job, inside or outside the home, your time is limited when it comes to keeping things within your family organized and running like a well-oiled machine. Your laundry baskets are never empty, the kitchen always needs to be cleaned 10 minutes after you have already done it, your good clothes are the leggings that don’t have holes in them, and the toilet paper always seems to have run out when it’s YOUR turn to sit down.
Nobody, including your husband, seems to know where anything is, even though you have lived in the same home for over 5 years, eating a meal at the dining room table would require cleaning off a week’s worth of crap that you can’t even really pinpoint the need for, and none of your family members know how to eat anything unless it’s magically prepared by your hands and your hands only.
Does any of this sound familiar?
How many times in a month have you sat during a rare existence of downtime and thought through chore charts so everyone can help out? How often have you planned meals for your family for a week, or even a month? You mapped it all out for each day, you did the grocery shopping, you got everything prepared so that coming home from work at night would mean a nice family meal together where you could sit, decompress, talk.
And then you walk in the door to fighting children, demands for help with homework, an overflowing kitchen sink, and a complete deflation of your organized and prepared attitude. You end the evening by calming the chaos and serving cereal for dinner. Thoughts of the nice, planned-out meal are now in the back of your mind. You put your kids to bed and you sit down and think to yourself, “I sucked at parenting tonight. My kids had cereal for dinner.”
“I sucked at parenting tonight. My kids had cereal for dinner.”
Serving Cereal For Dinner Doesn’t Make You a Bad Mom
Now let’s look at this from another viewpoint:
You worked all day. You spent no time with your kids. You come home after 9 hours of stress in the office (or whatever the career may be) and your house is in disarray. Your kids are begging for attention and your body is begging for a break. And guess what? They deserve the attention and you deserve that break.
You think about that meal you had ready to prepare, but your son is calling for you to come see what he did in school. You think about how long it will take to clean up that kitchen, but your other son is calling for you to come hear about something he learned on his favorite video game. And then it hits you. It doesn’t matter what you cook or how much you clean. Those kids don’t care. They just want YOU.
So many times as a parent we get wrapped up in the logistics and technicalities of what we should be doing in our homes or with our families based on what we see from other people – other moms. Screw it. You are not them. There will ALWAYS be time to clean that house – we know that as moms. We know that no matter what the day has brought, we always find a way to put things back together in our home at some point. Whether it’s 11 o’clock at night or 5 o’clock in the morning, we know it’s getting done.
So why worry about wasting those very few hours that we DO have with our children making sure everything is perfect – doing things the way society says we should? Dinner by 5, at the table, on a PLATE (overrated), cleaning up right after. Why? Sure, that sounds great a few nights a week when we have the kind of schedule that allows us to make that happen, but we don’t have to live and die by that to have a happy and successful home.
My family saves that for Sundays – and we love it. It gives us something to look forward to after our week of craziness. It’s the one day we know we can make it happen – the one day the kids ALL know we are coming together at the table.
Our kids don’t care about anything other than the time you have for them. The attention you are able to give them when they want to tell you things. Those precious, minimal moments that may only happen for some families between the hours of 5pm and 7pm during the week. Those precious, minimal moments that will be gone before we know it – just like our kids.
The questions I always ask myself when I have the kinds of nights that make me feel like I didn’t DO enough, are:
“Do you want to look back and remember all of your weeknights as chaotic, chore-filled, non-connection nights with your kids?”
“Do you want to look back and remember all the things you learned about them and know that they grew up with your full attention when they needed it most?”
“Do you want them to know that once work was over for the night, you chose to focus on them and not more WORK?”
I know what my answers would be. I don’t want to be the mom who sits down at the end of the night and questions whether I did enough for my kids. I don’t want to be the mom who goes to bed and wonders if she even talked to her kids that night – found out anything about their day even. I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that my time for them has to “fit into” our schedules. It may be the unpopular opinion of most parents, but it’s the one that works for me, the not-so-average parent with a house full of boys who never want anything BUT attention. So, on the nights we need to connect, I will always choose to serve cereal for dinner.