Having many children is such a blessing, and I sure do love our large family…but one of the harder things for me is making sure that every one of them gets the attention that he/she needs and deserves. Each night before I fall asleep it’s become a habit of mine to do a mental recap of my day. I lie there and think of each child and I “grade” myself as to how well of a parent I was to that child that day.
Did she have a happy day?
Did I talk to him enough?
Did I remember to play with her?
Did he feel loved? Important?
Did I do anything special with just her today?
I almost always seem to fall short. I almost always go to bed disappointed, always telling myself that tomorrow I will do better.
Tomorrow I will do better.
Does anyone else have this?
This is a really busy house. Some kids are more demanding than others and get more of my attention that way, while others are easy-going and quiet…and it’s those kids who are less demanding of me that get less of my attention. But yet those quiet ones deserve attention, too.
So I have an idea. Just like a chore list, I will have a kid list. It’s my list that I will go by to insure that each child gets what he or she needs from me everyday. Here’s an example:
ANDREW (age 4)
- helped him brush his teeth
- read books to him
- colored with him
- played “Memory” with him
- took him outside to play or to a park
- tucked him into bed
- hugged him
- said prayers with him
- got on the floor and played Matchbox cars with him
- praised him throughout the day for things he did right
- let him help me with a chore or two
- told him he was special
- went on a special errand run with me (to the gas station, to the store, etc)
As silly as this idea may be, I really think I need something like this. I might have even needed something like this back when I just had 3 or 4 kids. Life, with any number of children, can get really busy. A check-list will be good for me, if anything just to reassure me at the end of the day that I did enough for each child. To help ease the Mommy Guilt.
The more children you have, the more likely it is that you will get distracted and/or interrupted during the day, and therefore the harder it is to give any single child your undivided attention. I find that I will tell a child to “wait a minute — I’ll get to you in a second” with the best of intentions to do just that…but then an hour later I’ll realize I forgot to get back to that child.
- One time Andrew finished up in the bathroom and was waiting for me to come wipe him. He had yelled, “I’m DONE!!!” with me yelling back, “Okay! Hang on, Andrew…I’ll be there in a sec!” about 10 times before he just finally gave up. What was I doing? I was probably bathing Aria, or talking to another child about something, or breaking up an argument, or helping someone find something….or whatever. When I finally remembered he was in there, he had a red ring around his bottom from sitting on the potty too long. My guess is that he had been sitting there, quietly talking to himself and shredding the toilet paper, for…about 30 minutes. (Is this why we keep magazines in the bathroom? In case we are “forgotton” on the potty?)
- Avery, my quiet one, every night comes up to me and sweetly says, “Mom…I’m going to bed now. Will you come tuck me in?” There are some nights where I am so busy with all the craziness during bedtime/bathtime that I tell her “I’ll be there in a second….” only to find her fast asleep when I finally get to her room about 20 or 30 minutes later. Do you know how awful that makes me feel? to know that I missed tucking her into her bed? when she asked me to! She’s 9 years old. How many more years do you think I have to tuck this little one into bed? Sometimes I try to wake her up, just so that she can see me/feel me tucking her into bed.
Yep, I need a check list. Just to keep me accountable so that I can look back years from now and not wish I had done a better job. A check list will help me so that when the above situations happen (and you know they will) I will at least know that I did a good job in other areas with that child on that day.
AVERY (age 9)
- make her lunch for school (and put a special note in it!)
- eat breakfast with her before school
- walk to school with her
- read with her after school or at night before bed
- read a Chicken Soup story with her
- cuddle with her in her bed or mine
- compliment her
- watch her hip hop class instead of just dropping her off and picking her up
- braid her hair before she goes to bed at night
- ask her about her friendships
- talk to her about her day at school
- do a craft with her (Avery is my crafty girl – she loves doing crafts)
- sit alongside her while she practices her piano
(okay, isn’t it sad that I have to make a note to “talk to her about her day at school” ?? But darn it, this is something that I sometimes forget to do. And not just with her. That will be on every child’s list, for sure!)
Silly or not, I’m making myself a daily check list for each child. My goal will be to have at least half of the things checked off each day. If I can get half of that list accomplished, then I know that that particular child was loved on and got plenty of attention from me that day. If I fall short, then I know where I need to make up for it the next day. It will be just a way for me to keep track, so that no one gets overlooked. I will also have blank spaces at the bottom of each child’s list so that I can add things if I need to, like: expressed interest in the swim team – check into that …. because there are many times the kids will tell me something and I will put it to the far back of my mind, meaning to get to it later…but then when I forget and a few days later I remember — ugh, there’s that guilt again!
I’m always striving to get the house organized, but I think what I really need to work on is getting the kids organized – on paper, that is; their ideas, their goals, the things they want to do…the things they tell me on any given day that might be important to them. I need to write these things down somewhere. They are not safe in my own head.