At the end of the summer, I felt like things were spiraling out of control. Sports practices had begun, school shopping needed to be finished, laundry needed to be folded, floors mopped, and the list kept growing and growing. I felt like I was constantly telling my kids no, not now – maybe later, and go outside and play for a while. Every time I said no, I could see the disappointment on their little faces as they walked away with their shoulders slumped. And I felt guilty. I felt like a horrible mom, but there was always so much to do.
One night, as I was putting the kids to bed, one of my daughters told me she was feeling sad all of the time because I never play with her anymore. I cuddled up to her in bed and told her things were going to change, and I would make the time to play again. I formulated a plan that I was going to implement the very next day.
I decided for one week I was going to say yes to whatever my kids asked (within limits). I did not tell them about this plan because they would test those limits. I knew they’d be asking for new toys, or to eat candy and drink soda all day. I would do this quietly and surprise them with my willingness to join in their fun.
I’ll be honest; at first it was very hard. I was in the middle of unloading the dishwasher and someone asked me to play a board game. I wanted to say no and finish what I was doing. I had to force myself to stop and play, but once I did, I really enjoyed it. And the kids were so excited. It was the first thing they told their Dad when he got home.
As the week went on I actually looked forward to the extra time with the kids. Sometimes it was only reading a book to the baby for five minutes, or watching my 8 year old’s gymnastics moves on the trampoline. Other times it was popping popcorn and watching a movie, or painting everyone’s fingernails and toenails.
At the end of the week I learned that everything still gets done, even with taking time to play with the kids. All of the laundry got washed, folded, and put away, the school shopping got finished, the floors were mopped, and everyone made it to practices on time. The thing that surprised me the most was how it affected the kids. I knew they would be happy to have me play with them, but that happiness spread. They fought less with each other. They all played together more and used their imaginations. They weren’t coming to find me every five minutes to tell me they had nothing to do. My mood had changed too. I wasn’t snapping at them or becoming irritated with them as much as I was. I had more patience, and actually was becoming that sweet, loving mom I wanted to be so much.
School has started now and schedules have become crazier. I am not saying “yes” as often as I was during that week, but I say it much more that I used to. It’s amazing that even with all of the chaos, how a little quality time with loved ones can change everything for the better.