Over the weekend I had to attend a mini-retreat at our church for parents of children enrolled in religious education. I can't say I learned anything new during the two hours there, but one piece of information made me go, "Hmmm...."
Bebe gets up at 6:30am. Our goal is to leave the house by 7:20. That's 50 minutes. We have a 10-15 minute car ride. That's about an hour, maybe more.
I pick up Bebe by 6 o'clock. Her bedtime is 8:30 (although sometimes I let her stay up until 9). That's 2.5 hours.
I spend THREE AND A HALF HOURS a day with Bebe. That's it! 3.5 waking hours. And honestly, it's even less some days. On Tuesdays it's usually only 1 (because Dede picks up the kids and watches them at night--I come home after they're in bed). On Thursdays it's usually 2.5 (because she is at gymnastics for an hour).
HOW do we spend time together during those few hours? The wrong way.
I'm ashamed to admit that most of the time, Bebe walks in the door and sits in front of the TV until bedtime. Sure, sometimes she plays computer or her DS instead, but she usually just vegs out. She even eats dinner in front of the TV most nights, because I've usually got Dois already eating and my meal isn't done being cooked yet.
D and I fall into the trap of complaining about how she spends SO much time in front of the TV and she has so many toys she never plays with... but it's really our fault. We enable her. Because we know if she is playing, 90% of the time she is begging us to play with her... and we're occupied with something else. She's high maintenance. So we stick her in front of the TV or whatnot instead.
I have even LESS time with Dois every night, and yet some nights I get in an episode of Super Why.
Why do I do this? What is my primary vocation? To be a mother to my children, or to be a wife?
Starting tonight, things are different.
For starters, when we walked in the door, I told Bebe she could have 1/2 hour of "screen time" but she needed to decide WHEN and WHAT right then. She chose a favorite show (Wild Kratts) at 8pm.
Bebe, Dois, and I all sat down to dinner together. Sure, I had to "entertain" Bebe by making up a Halloween story, but we all sat down at the table together.
After dinner, Bebe retreated to her room to play, because Dois was begging for "night night." Turned out he didn't want to GO "night night", though, he wanted to play. So for 30 minutes she hung out in her room playing with her Littlest Pet Shop toys, while Dois and I played in the hallway. (I was doing diaper laundry, and sitting in the hallway near the washer ensured I could keep it going while still playing.) He made a game out of me tossing all of his (6) pacis in the air and then he would scramble to get them, then hand them back to me one-by-one... only for him to beg me to do it all over again. :) We played this game until I decided he was worn out enough to go "night night" for real. It was so fun to play a random "game"--because one thing I feel is that I don't really KNOW how to play with my kids anymore.
Bebe and I played games (Guess Who? and Don't Break the Ice) for a half an hour (while I simultaneously finished my dinner--because Dois had begged for "night night" before I was done), and then it was time for her show. She watched, and when it was over, she went straight to bed--with little fighting or protesting. (That's some sort of miracle.)
I'm determined to make the 2.5-3.5 hours per day at least 75% quality time. I don't think it's going to be easy--trying to juggle everything never has been my strong point. I'm also trying to figure out how I can focus on my time with the kids and not be doing something else at the same time... One step at a time, though, right?