Yesterday when she got home from school, Allison said she needed either Andy or I to help her memorize a duet scene she was scheduled to perform in theatre class today. She needed one of us to act out one part while she acted out her part. I was happy she would even consider me to do this since Andy usually helps out with “homework” after dinner while I work on miscellaneous chores, like going through mail or putting sheets in the dryer– I’m the parent that’s seen as boring and no fun, remember? So I looked forward to working with her. But as soon as dinner was over, she asked her dad if he could help. “Why not me?” I asked.
“I figured you’d be busy with something,” she said, and proceeded to imitate me. (Darn, she was spot on—her dramatic interpretation was worthy of at least a B+.)
Allison (as me): “I’ve got to do a phone interview for an article I’m writing. Sorry, can’t help. I’m paying the bills right now…I’m working on taxes…I’m on the Internet… I’m planning a Girl Scout trip…” The spoken words then turned into an original song, and Emmie joined her.
Okay, okay, I get it…I sulked off to my computer.
As I was deleting emails, I came across this, from Flylady.net. (The Fly Lady, Marla Cilley, is an Internet celebrity and now author and speaker who gained fame through her free Internet coaching on housekeeping, motivating stressed-out people to tackle housecleaning in small chunks of time. She and her staff send out daily emails to remind subscribers to clean a particular room that day, or clean out their car, or clean out their purse, or gather unused stuff for charity, etc., etc. One of her mantras is “You can do anything for 15 minutes.”) I rarely have time to read her emails anymore, so why did I click on this one? Here’s an excerpt:
I have talked before of how children will model after you. If they see that you are always busy, they will have a tendency to think that you are too busy for them. They will either retreat and not ask for your time or they will act out to get your attention. When kids are not getting responses from good and positive behavior they will take whatever they can get, even if it is negative. You do not have to let things get that far, you can take time out for them today! Look at your routines and make sure that you are not over-scheduling yourself in your home to where you can’t make any memories. The testimonial below points out how we truly can do ANYTHING for 15 Minutes – even make a memory for a little child.
Yesterday one of your phrases helped me in a new way. I was in
the bathroom getting ready and my 5-year-old son came in to chat. He
said, “How come you don’t ever play with me anymore?” I was a little
affronted by that question because I home-school and I feel like I
spend a good amount of time with the kids. I responded, “I do play
with you, we did a puzzle yesterday and we read stories together.” He
said, “But I want you to play guys (action figures) or race cars, can
you play that with me?”
In my mind I’m thinking “That is what Dad is for, I don’t know how to
play “guys” or “race cars,” I don’t want to play that, I have so much
to do today (and it’s Saturday so it’s my day to do stuff since I’m
not homeschooling), whine, whine, whine.”
But then I heard a little voice in my head say, “You can do anything
for 15 minutes.” So, I smiled at my darling son and said, “Well, I
could play race cars with you for 15 minutes, then I need to get some
He was SO excited. He eagerly brought me the box of race cars so I
could choose which one I wanted. We played for 15 minutes, maybe a bit
more, and we BOTH had fun. My son was perfectly happy with 15 minutes
and didn’t request anymore.
Sometimes we get so caught up in trying to get things done that we
don’t give our kids the TIME they so want. Or in my case, we give them
time but it’s time doing what we want. Your 15-minute catch phrase has
been a blessing in SO many ways–THANK YOU!
Was God trying to tell me something yesterday? I give lots of time to my kids, but seeing time as “kid-directed” vs. “mom-directed” is an eye-opener, a real kick in the pants. And I think the concept is true even with older kids like mine. But at this point in their lives, I’m not sure how to begin… a mom’s jobs and “must-do” list is long and I’ve always viewed it as never-ending (thus explains the many nights I’ve stayed up until midnight and later). Hmmm… I’ve thought of the idea of giving each girl a “Saturday afternoon with Mom” every month but have never acted on it. Maybe I should. Also, I’ve always wanted to arrange my daily schedule so that I “leave work” at a certain time, just like my husband, relegating most chores and office work to a certain block of time so I, too, would have time to relax, on my own or with my family. But, like many moms, I’ve laughed at that notion, feeling like “moms don’t have the right “, like my life (and my family’s) would fall apart if I did that every day. Now that idea doesn’t seem so laughable.
I don’t want to be a “Hold on a Second” parent any more, always doing something else that’s “more important” that always takes longer than a second, a minute, an hour… and I don’t want my girls to be that kind of parent someday, either. I hope there’s still time to redeem myself.