Because, let’s face it: I can’t play with my kids, or talk to them, all day long. Here’s how I make myself feel better about it.
1. “I’ve played with you all day.” I use this often when my husband is home from work, I need to make dinner, and the kids are begging me to build our 17th Lego tower. The truth is, I usually have played with them all day. Saying it aloud makes me not feel bad for not being able to play with them in that moment.
2. “Mommy needs to be alone.” I’ve taught my kids that sometimes they need alone time (I call it “taking a break”) when they’re getting frustrated or even just bored. So sometimes when things aren’t going their way, they volunteer themselves to go into another room to play and calm down. Why should I be any different? I don’t need to feel bad about needing to be alone. Even if it’s just to pee. Or scream into my pillow.
3. “Mommy is getting frustrated.” This tends to be my unintended warning signal to my kids, and it works great because it communicates that their behavior affects my well-being. (Hello, #motherhood.) I used to bottle up my frustrations, and keep trying to be Perfect Mom. (“Please stop hitting your brother, Sweetheart. Please!”) But then eventually, if they didn’t stop, I’d blow up at them and scream and yell and lose my mind. And then I’d feel horrible. Giving this simple verbal warning helps me avoid the guilt and helps them stop the bad behavior.
4. “Mommy needs to work.” This is one of my favorites. Yes, that might just be scrolling through Facebook on my laptop so I can zone you out. But everything I do doesn’t need to be about you. Sometimes, if my kids want to play or want a snack, I’ll remind them that we just played and that I just gave them 14 different snacks in a 10-minute period, and that I have work to do. Which is usually true. Even if it’s just paying bills or returning emails.
5. “I have to make dinner (or any other task).” Because it’s true. I can’t cater to my little darlings all day long because I DO, in fact, have other things to do. That’s not something I need to feel bad about. It’s just life.
6. “Who’s the coolest mom in the world?” Yes, I totally brainwash my kids into thinking I am literally the coolest mom in the world. It’s one of my favorite things to ask them, and I do it like all the time. Nothing is more fun than hearing them shout, “YOU ARE!”
Sometimes, now, out of the blue, my 2-year-old will be like, “Mama, you the coolest girl in the whole wide world.”
And I’m like, “Yep.”