Don’t Make Me Come Play With You!

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The phrase “balancing work and home life” always makes me think of the symbol of justice: a woman with a scale dangling from her outstretched hand—it is no accident she is blindfolded.

Life can’t possibly fit onto a scale without something dripping off the side.

Rather, the components of life are chopped up and tossed into a big bowl; and the ingredients are never in perfect proportion.

A few years ago (when I was losing weight for the 4th time), I made a bet with myself: any time it occurred to me to exercise, I HAD to do it—no excuses.

Recently my oldest daughter had her 12th birthday, and I became acutely aware of all the chances I had missed with her, and the chances I have been missing with my younger kids.

So, I made another deal with myself: instead of telling the children to go play with their siblings (like I usually do), I decided to play with them (or do a particular activity with them) any reasonable time they asked—no excuses.

Because I am a work-at-home, homeschooling mom, it is easy to shrug off the kids when they want to play. I can rationalize that the hours of being together, studying and doing chores somehow compensate for what they really want, which is to simply have some fun with mom.

At the core, I am selfish.

Really.

I get focused on a task (writing, blogging, running, cleaning, whatever), and it is easy to push the kids aside—because I am with them all day, every day.

Shouldn’t that be enough?

Just because I am a mom who is with my children 24/7, does not mean I have achieved some sort of mommy nirvana.

I have to work hard to stay focused on priorities, just as any full-time working mom. I can become so sidetracked with other things, even with homeschooling (which is FOR the kids) that I miss winning their hearts.

Thus, the playtime challenge.

I honestly don’t know why the kids want to play with me because it seems like it could be a punishment.

I brush hair, search for matching shoes, and make sure all the dolls are wearing pants. Even when every game ends up with a talent/fashion/college-scholarship-winner show, the kids, amazingly, love it.

Not only does our youngest light up with razzle-dazzle sparkles in her eyes, but the other kids join the game, incorporating machines that try to sabotage the contest, or aliens who are squashed like bugs under Barbie’s ridiculously high heel.

Playtime is for fun and silliness; and while it often seems like the empty calories of the day (a lot of fun but not much substance), for the children, it appears to be nourishing for their souls.

I may not realize for a long while how playtime is affecting the family, but I can only think it is good for us:  

A few extra servings of something healthy and sweet tossed into the big bowl of life.

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2 responses »

  1. I am taking on your challenge 🙂 Reading this made me realize I have been trying to get the father to spend time, and actually see, our first son. I was trying so much it left no time for my son and me. Now he is an older brother and I have lost his first two years, it should be the fathers loss, not mine. Thanks

  2. I think children know that parents are multifaceted beings and they want to see all of the parts. How boring an “all business” mom or dad must appear to a child, one who does not laugh or find humor in anything, one who only thinks of grades or a clean bedroom. Discovering the joy of playing with the children before they decide that they are too old to enjoy playtime with you is a blessing. I still remember the summer before my youngest son went to high school with a mixture of tears and laughter. He wanted to go to the movies with me, go to a museum, the zoo, a swim and picnic at the lake with just me. We usually did these things with a friend or two tagging along. While have a coffee together he told me that he thought he was grown up now and that although he enjoyed my company, he would now spend more time with friends. He gave me the gift of HIS time and I loved it. Of course we have spent time since then “playing” together but it was different but just as good…me riding on a motorcycle with him at the controls, trekking and sight seeing, him at the lead. Keri, enjoy every minute of their childhood and then you will deserve the pleasure of their company as young adults.

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