My 8 yr old daughter Mackenzie has been complaining lately that “all I do is work”. Now, let me give you the back story on this. I was a single mom when I had Mackenzie. I was doing it all on my own so from the time she was five months old she was in daycare. I would drop her off at 8:30 am and pick her up at 6 pm. We would have two and a half hours together at night and then she was off to bed and we would start all over the next day. The weekends were our time since I worked Monday through Friday only. Mackenzie and I have always been incredibly close. Even with all that time apart we created a bond that is airtight. In Feb 2007 I got married and my husband has now adopted Mackenzie and we had a second child together, named Teagan in Aug 2008.
Ok, now let’s fast forward to June 2009 when Glenn and I quit our corporate jobs, moved the family to Colorado and I started my own business. Now we’re both home all day, as we both are self-employed and working from home. We share the childcare by switching off halfway through the day, we have no daycare, we just make it work by being flexible when each of us has meetings, etc. I pick up Mackenzie from school almost everyday at 2:30 and we spend the afternoons together.
I then pick up work again a few evenings a week, after the girls go to bed, to get in a few extra hours. Working from home gives you a lot of time with the family but you have to get creative on when and where you work!
So why is Mackenzie complaining NOW that “all I do is work”? Well, I’m sure there are a bunch of possible reasons, but MY belief is that now she sees me so much more that on the occasions where I do need to work a little while she is home she is acutely aware of it. This got me thinking, how can I get her to see that we actually spend multiple more hours a day together than we did just a year and a half ago? I came up with five ways that I could make both my kids feel really special while I’m with them, so that when I do have to work it’s not even an issue for them.
- When you are with them…be WITH them. This is all about being present. I’m the first to admit it’s really hard sometimes to turn off your business head and get into kid mode. Have you ever had those moments where you are playing with your kids but you’re a thousand miles away? This can be true for any mom, working or SAHM – we can all get lost in our thoughts. So if you make a concerted effort to really be with your kids, mentally and physically, it’s game changing for your relationship.
- Tell your kids the truth – that the reason you are working is so that you (and your spouse if applicable) can provide for your family and share with them (in an age appropriate way) what being an adult is like. Now, I’m not saying give them a guilt trip that you’ve got to work so they can have nice things!! No, no, no!! What I am saying is that kids can start to develop a healthy respect for the work you do and how it benefits them and the family as a whole.
- Tell them you love them a hundred times a day! You can’t say it too many times. Remind them, every chance you get, of how important they are to you.
- Tell them little stories about how you thought about them during the day. Maybe it was something that happened at work that reminded you of them, or maybe they just popped into your mind and made you smile. They will love to hear it!
- Ask them lots of questions about how their day was! Whether they were at school or daycare or with your partner, show them you are interested in what they were up to while you were working. Not just a “how was your day?” but loads of questions about what they did and who they were with and what they loved about the day and what they didn’t like so much. Showing a genuine interest in their lives will show them how much you care.
Just a couple of days ago I decided to do a quick test with Mackenzie. I wanted to check in and see how well I was doing with my girls so I asked the question “What do YOU think is the most important thing in the world to ME?” Without hesitation she answered “Me and Teagan!”
Phew, I’m doing a-ok!
What has worked for you?? Share with us in the comments below: