There’s no way to be perfect at it all, all the time.
Healthy dinners and strict screen time limits. Days full of activities and enrichment and good bedtime routines.
The vitamins and tooth brushing and clothes shopping and permission slips and the endless patience.
The endless patience.
Trying your best (and often failing) at never losing your cool, and at never lowering your standards.
Never relaxing with your kids because you can’t stop the incessant voice in your head telling you that you should be doing more with them, for them.
Never getting to enjoy an afternoon because your to-do list is so long and the kids need so much of you.
It’s an exhausting pace to keep.
They need space to grow. They need someone to take an interest in them, and in who they are slowly becoming. They need your affection, and your goodwill. They need you, but they also need time to just be on their own.
Next time I start to beat myself up for not doing enough with or for my kids I’m going to remind myself of this:
My mom (and probably yours, too) didn’t spend all day playing with us. She didn’t always limit our screen time. Some dinners didn’t have veggies. We certainly didn’t have activities every day.
And maybe she entertained us here and there but mostly our moms did mom things.
She worked or cooked or volunteered or ran carpools or chatted on the phone with her friends or read or watched soaps or tended to life or did any one of a million things that were not “playing” with her kids.
She wasn’t perfect.
She was the best.
Because you know what? We didn’t expect perfection.
We didn’t notice that sometimes the sink was full. Sometimes the floor was dirty. Sometimes we had takeout for dinner.
Often we were left to our own devices, and in those hours of boredom we slowly became ourselves.
We didn’t miss being entertained all day.
We were busy with our own friends and our own imaginations and our own explorations because we were kids, and what kids do is play.
And kids play better without us.
Let them play. Let us not. (At least let us not be expected to all the time).
Let them be, at least a little bit. Let’s give us and them a break.
Not every dinner will have veggies. Not every day will be enriching. We won’t have family games every night.
We won’t be at our best every day. Neither will our kids. We will love them and be there for them, but it doesn’t need to be so much.
You’re already a good enough mom.
And the kids will turn out just fine.
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