The following post is written by our friend Liz who lives in Chatanooga, TN with her husband and two daughters under 2 1/2. Liz works part time from home at a public relations firm, is a great cook and enjoys running! Ann and Liz met five years ago through their husbands and were a part of a book club where they read crazy and amazing books they wouldn't otherwise read. Liz is constantly striving to be a better wife, mom, daughter and friend which Ann very much appreciates.
Dear Jen and Ann,
Dear Jen and Ann,
"Now is not the season to be OCD about your house. Tired mama, put down the vacuum and engage with that little girl who's been begging you to read her some books all afternoon. And just accept the reality that Cheerios are going to be found in every nook and cranny of your couch, bed, chairs and car. We're aiming for happy households, not perfect homes."
Sometimes when I read "mommy blog" posts that start off like this I just want to scream, "I AM paying attention to my children! I AM reading them stories, engaging with their hearts, playing games, telling stories, singing songs. I AM, I AM, I AM!" I know the heart and intention behind such blog posts is good, but honestly they often make me feel a bit criminal for wanting to bring some order and cleanliness to my household and for wanting to encourage some independent play in my 2-year-old who more often than not would prefer to be suction-cupped to my side.
I suppose there could be some moms among us who need to hear this message and who really might not be paying enough attention to their children. However, I'm inclined to believe that the majority of us who are raising our children in an era of over-parenting are doing just fine when it comes to engaging with our little ones. My fear is that we read these posts, then turn away and think "Oh, well, I guess I'm supposed to give into my toddler's constant demands that I pay him/her attention since the goal isn't a perfect house, but a happy one." It's almost like we're taking this as a carte blanche to ignore our other responsibilities, which in a way is easier than trying to teach patience and independence to our young ones.
Maybe this is just me, as I know I have a sensitive conscience and always feel these posts are directed right at me, when maybe they are not. I'm not sure. Any moms out there who can relate?
So funny because Jen and I talk about this a lot. I have a couple thoughts that are in line with what you are saying. Love the pictures by the way!
Recently, we went to the children's museum in Flint. My girls love that place! They have these different areas for pretend play. Their two favorite sections are the theater dress up area because as you know my girls love to dance! Their second favorite is the little town where you can go to the grocery store or post office, and cook your food in your own little kitchen. My Mom and I were watching the girls play and commented how we didn't have an elaborate, fun place like that when we were kids. My mom is an early childhood educator and she reminded me that up until 100 years ago kids worked. They worked in factories and on farms and there was very little time for play. I'm very grateful that my girls won't have to work so young, but I do believe that they should share the responsibilities with the family in caring for our home. There are many circumstances that are contributing to children leaving our parents' home later and later in life, but I believe our children not really knowing how to work adds to that trend.
|Catina and June playing at the Flint Children's Museum|
When Catina was two I started handing her a dust rag to help me dust the house. Now I did not expect her to clean well, but she found it fun to imitate me and we would make up songs as we went. Since then, Catina has seen the musical "Annie" and we sometimes pretend we are scrubbing the orphanage from its grime. Now when I ask Catina if she'd like to help me dust she jumps at the opportunity and does a great job. She even lifts up objects to clean underneath them!
I don't believe Catina needs to clean all day or have a ton of responsibilities, but we as a family we do need to share in the chores around the house to keep what God gave us in good shape. Plus, if you help mommy clean then mommy has more time for reading and playing!
I'm with you Liz, I'd love to hear more thoughts from moms on the balance of playing and keeping house.