Last spring, I went from working part time outside the home to being a full time stay-at-home mom but I didn’t always feel like I was spending much more quality time with my kids than when I worked.
Sure, my children and I spent more time cleaning since we were actually home to make messes. I also continued to spend a lot of time meeting their basic day-to-day needs like schoolwork, making and eating meals, and dealing with behavioral issues. And, yes, that stuff really does count. But it wasn’t enough.
As I thought about my days, I tried to figure out where I’d gone wrong and what I could possibly change. And while I’d heard all the advice about ignoring mom-guilt, I chose instead to listen to my instinct because I think guilt can sometimes be a good thing.
I believe that healthy guilt can propel us to change.
Some days I did really well, but as I listened to my guilt on my not-so-well days, I knew I felt guilty because I could have done better. I knew I’d disconnected from my kids for part of the day because being on the Internet was easier.
I was aware the real reason I didn’t read to my four year old some days was because I didn’t want anyone else to know I’d wasted time online that day so I chose to rush through afternoon chores instead of snuggling up with a good book.
But you know what? My kids knew. They knew why I didn’t always have time to take them outside to play. They knew why I wasn’t always listening when they spoke to me. They knew the real reason I sometimes served a frozen pizza for dinner instead of cooking something healthier. Maybe I could hide it from everyone else, but the ones who matter the most, the little souls I’ve been entrusted to raise, they knew.
And I had two choices: I could either break free from the Internet now or I could one day regret that I hadn’t.
So I got drastic. I unfriended every single one of my Facebook friends. I deleted over 25,000 e-mails. I unsubscribed to no less than four dozen e-mail lists. I started keeping my phone on the charger again instead of in my pocket. I told my children I was sorry. I asked their forgiveness.
I started choosing to stay connected even when it was tough. Instead of escaping to an online world, I struggled and fought to stay focused on my own life.
And I’m so glad I did. Because for me, in addition to being fully present for the difficult moments, being connected to real life also looks like:
- Reading an entire stack of books to my four year old in one sitting.
- Listening better to my eight year old.
- Playing outside and visiting the library more often.
- Training my children with more grace and diligence.
- Welcoming friends into my home.
- Spending more time with my husband each evening.
- Joyfully organizing a few neglected areas.
It’s been a difficult fight and while I am completely positive that I still don’t have it perfectly correct, I have come a long way. I finally understand that, regardless of the struggle, overcoming is more than worth every second of the battle.
And the freedom is incredible.