Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mom's Challenge

With children ages 2 through 8, my days are never boring! I wake up before every other member of my family and find myself doing laundry, picking up toys, cleaning the bathroom, or doing the dishes that didn't get completed after dinner the night before because our evenings are so busy. I take refuge in the early morning radio shows that bring me their version of the day's news and completely random and unimportant life events. Then the chaos starts when my husband rolls out of bed exactly 30 minutes before he must leave for work - just enough time to get a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast and walk through the door after kissing me and kids good-bye. The kicker is that I have been up for an hour more than he and now I'm getting the 8 year old to get dressed, eat breakfast, turn off the TV, put shoes on, finish any remaining busy work (aka homework), getting snacks and water bottles for the school day, and walking him to the bus stop. Returning back to the house, the other three are all awake and are already fighting over what to eat for breakfast or watch on TV. Someone notices my return and starts yelling "MOM!" The next 3 1/2 hours are spent checking email, checking the bank accounts to see if we'll be able to make it to next week, working on laundry, getting the kids dressed, cleaning up from breakfast, Facebook visits, breaking up fights and settling arguments, then it's time for lunch and getting the 6 year old on the bus...immediately off to the 4 year old's preschool and then running errands with the 2 year old. When preschool is over, it's a quick jaunt home to meet the bus, make and eat dinner with the kids before driving them to football practice or the babysitter just in time for graduate school.

The problem with this scenario is that it is all too common! Who has time for real family time anymore? Is the weekend really enough? Do we have the chance to see our kids playing with other children from the neighborhood? How often can we really sit down to read with our children? Do they spend more time looking at the TV and the computer (which we justify by saying "It's educational programming or games") than they spend interacting in positive relationships with their parents, their siblings, and other children?

I admit, my answer to these questions are embarrassing. In such a crazy time in our lives, it's way too easy to fall back on "keeping them occupied" without really encouraging them to be imaginative, creative, relational and energetic.

I'm challenging myself to turn off the electronics in my home and spend more time actually interacting with my children...I'm challenging myself to worry less about the mess they make, if they're playing. I'm challenging myself to take them outside to play. I'm challenging myself to make time for play in a time of busy schedules and drive through dinners.

Will you do the same? What changes can you make in your home to make the relationships among your family members more of a priority?