Top 10 reasons to love staying at home with your kids

I suffer from a constant, nagging internal struggle about wanting to work.  I’ve talked with and listened to so many moms who try to put into words their very same torment over this issue.  Because the grass is always greener on the other side, I find myself wishing often that I could have a sick day, or that my kids were messing up a daycare center instead of my house, or that I could pee in peace in a bathroom stall at work.  But today, I want to focus on the many blessings of being present, in the here and now, with my children.  Here are just the tip of the iceberg reasons to enjoy this precious time with them:

10. Your children need your presence more than they need your presents. I once read this on a church bulletin board as I drove by, and it stuck.  We live in a society that tells us if we buy our kids the best sneakers or video games or get them into the best private schools, we love them more than parents who don’t provide these things.  It’s bologna.

9. You can’t have quality time without quantity time.  Quality time can’t be forced to fit into scheduled time slots.  I’ve found that when I schedule special events, they often don’t live up to expectations.  The mundane tasks of everyday life give me those moments when Eliza looks over at me while I’m cooking and says, “I love you mommy.  Thanks for making me dinner.”

8. I might not get sick days, but I get play days. It is unusually warm for a winter day.  And I have the freedom to take my kids outside and enjoy the sunshine.  If I weren’t my own boss, I couldn’t do that.

7. Kids are sponges and they soak up everything – especially dirt and grime. I don’t have to wonder what my kids are learning about life from someone else.  The worldview they are getting is the one Greg and I want to teach them.  Sure, so I have a 2 1/2-year-old who says “freaking” and “what the heck?” and even “DAMMIT.”  It could be so much worse.

6. You get to experience the wonder of learning everything for the first time. Let’s face it – our earliest memories are probably from about age three.  It’s amazing to watch infants and toddlers learn day-by-day how the world works – how toilet paper rolls off if you spin it, how dirt tastes, how water splashes, how to give a good raspberry, how to sing a song and how to annoy the dog.

5. We only have to consider one person’s work schedule when planning vacations and trips. Every time I think about getting a part-time job, I cringe at the thought of not being able to get off work when I want to get off work.

4. My kids really get to know me. For better or worse, my children see all the sides of me.  Sometimes, I fly off the handle, like I did briefly this morning when I got Zach dressed and he subsequently spilled the dog water bowl all over the floor and himself, and then did the same thing with my water-glass about two minutes later.  When I mess up, I get the opportunity to model apologizing, taking responsibility for my mistakes, and accepting forgiveness from them.  If I were working, there wouldn’t be enough time to reveal my true self to my kids.

3. I can better serve my husband. When I went back to work after having Eliza, things like laundry, dry cleaning and dishes didn’t get done and we ate a lot of takeout.  I was getting by with the bare minimum.  I didn’t have enough hours in the day to do anything really well, and for a type-A person, that’s a very hard place to be.

2. Nap time. I am anal about this and I have always coordinated their naps so the two of them sleep at the same time in the afternoon.  If I need to take a snooze, I can.  There’s no way you can do that at work.

1. Not even Mother Teresa could love your kids like you do.  No other boo boo kisser, monster deterrer, bug squasher, book reader or nose and fanny wiper could substitute for you.  Period.

“Free” time

A friend with one toddler and one on the way asked me how I have the time to write this blog.  And the answer is … I don’t, really.  When I’m writing this, I could and probably should be doing something else, like peeing in peace, showering or folding the four loads of laundry that beckon me RIGHT NOW.  Often, though, I want some me-time when either one or both kids is napping.  And the truth is, I have about five half-written blog posts waiting to be completed, but I get interrupted by life.  (This is one of them and I’m set on finishing it before Eliza wakes!)

My life is one of perpetually incomplete projects and half-eaten meals.  I’m not really sure how I make it work, except to detail how a “typical” day might go.  Mind you, there is really no day like another, and errands, events, and naps shortened by the dog barking change everything.  But you’ll get the idea.  I would LOVE to know how your typical day goes and how you spend your time – free or other!

6:30ish – 9 a.m. (when Zach takes his first nap) – non-stop taking care of the dog and kids, getting them up, dressed (well, not the dog), nursed and fed, and playing.  Eliza generally watches a Dora episode while Zach crawls around the kitchen floor while I cook for them. Somewhere in there I try to drink some sips of coffee and eat something.

9 – 10:30ish – eat if I haven’t, check e-mail, unload the dishwasher and/or load it.  If Greg is working from home, sometimes I take Eliza on a quick errand while Zach is sleeping.

11 – 1 p.m. – nurse Zach, play, possibly run an errand, make lunch for both of them, clean it up, and get them down for naps.

1 – 3ish – naps for both of them, when I eat my own lunch if I didn’t manage to do so earlier, fold laundry or do a little cleaning, go through mail, and waste more time on my computer so I feel connected to the world.  Sometimes I work on dinner during afternoon nap-time as well, even if it’s just to chop up some vegetables so I have one less thing to do while they’re both awake.  And sometimes I nap as well, especially lately because Eliza and Zach have both been up in the middle of the night for a few straight weeks.  (This is probably how the laundry is so behind.)

3 – 5:30ish – This is where it gets hairy because I’m generally tired at this point.  I might have another cup of coffee.  I nurse Zach again.  I do whatever I have to do to survive with them and somehow cook.  If Greg is home, at 5 I hand them over to him to watch while I get dinner on the table.  If he’s not home, it’s probably frozen pizza night or I scrounge something up for Eliza and order in for Greg and me after the kids are asleep.

5:30-7 – Eat dinner, bathe them, read stories, pray, and put them to bed.

7:30-10ish – Do more housework, collapse on the couch, think about writing something for this blog, and collapse into bed – but not before “ghost” feeding Zach one last time.

It is definitely a different experience than staying home with just Eliza.  Going from having one kid to having two is not like doubling your work.  It’s more like tripling or quadrupling it.  However, I don’t want to scare my pregnant friend who – in a couple of months – will have “two under two” to deal with.  So if you’re reading this Enna, the answer for you is I have plenty of time to write this blog.  Really.  😉