What do you do when your kids want to spend time with you, do family activities together but you’re not really feeling it?
Isn’t a mum supposed to want to spend time with her kids, making lovely happy family time memories? If you don’t want to spend the time with them, does it mean you’re a bad mum? Nope, furtherest from the truth… it means you’re human!
We all know that quality time with our kids is important for their development. It helps support the parent-child attachment which strengthens their self-esteem, provides a safe base for development and creates positive feelings for their family and their parents. Family time enjoying pleasurable activities helps us as parents know that we’re supporting our kids and providing a lifetime of happy memories.
But… Some days we’re just not up to it. We all have days when we’re stressed, tired and overwhelmed. The kids are annoying us and the last place we want to be is with them. If we could run away from them we could, but we can’t. How do we cope with these days? Balance the quality time with our kids with our desire to just be left alone?
First we have to decrease our expectations. There is no such thing as the perfect parent! There’s no such thing as the perfect family quality time either. When we’re organising time with our kids, we can make it grand, highly involved, paid activities, something that needs us to be actively involved. Or we can make it a little less stressful with a trip to the park when your kids can play and you can sit on a bench and enjoy delighting in watching them (or even simply flicking through Facebook – we’ve all done it).
Decreasing our expectations happens when we are the type of mum we want to be. When we don’t get sucked into what we “should” be doing as a mum because of what we see in Newsfeeds or on Insta Stories. It’s easy as a mum to be sucked into what others are doing. We spend time on Facebook connecting because at times, motherhood can be the loneliest job out there. At the same time it can make us feel inadequate.
When it’s what we want to be, it decreases our resistance and makes us more likely to want to spend that quality time with our kids on the day when we have resistance and really don’t feel like doing it.
Defining what family time means for you and your kids is not about what the activity is, but also how often it happens. For some families it might be realistic to do it every week, or every day. For others maybe it’s once a month. Remember that it is always quality over quantity. Trying to fit in huge events that take lots of time when you don’t want to be spending lots of time with your kids on this particular day, will just increase your stress and make you feel worse when you don’t have that family time feeling.
What if you’ve done all that? You have realistic expectations and defined the quality time you want to have with your kids. Your kids have asked for something that meets your criteria, but you’re still not feeling it. No motivation to do something and you just want to hide?
1. Get Specific
Sit down with your kids, your partner or husband and define exactly what you want to do together. Gaining clarity helps make family adventures a little more smooth sailing and less stressful. Decreasing stress makes it more fun for everyone involved (mum included!), which after all is the purpose of family time!
Go back and think about what YOU want to be doing. What can you realistically achieve with your time together. Avoid putting “shoulds” on it.
2. Have A Time Limit
When we don’t want to be doing something we often repeatedly think to ourselves “When will this be over?” Best way to get over this? Have a time limit. Booking in family time to the calendar, may sound boring but if it helps us feel more motivated and enjoy quality time more, then it’s worth it.
Some days we can have impromptu family time sessions, but if we’re in a particularly resistant phase then a little bit of scheduling helps everyone.
3. Make A Plan For You!
If we feel overwhelmed, drained and resentful by the demands of our family to spend time with them, then it can often happen because we’re not looking after ourselves enough.
Self-care as a mum is an essential part of parenting. We cannot parent from an empty cup, it can seem impossible to fit into our daily routine but it needs to be something that we make time for.
On the days that we plan something to do with our kids and we’re not feeling very enthusiastic about it, planning something for us after, even something very simple, helps us know that after we’ve got something positive to look forward to.
4. Don’t Do It!
This might be controversial but if you’re really not into spending time with your kids, don’t do it. Forced family time isn’t a positive experience. No child wants to be with their parents when they know they don’t want to be with them. This doesn’t crease happy memories, only feelings of negativity and resentment.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. We always must forgive ourselves when we don’t want to spend time with our kids. When we say no. If we give ourselves a break when we’re not motivated and excited for family time, we’ll often find that this decreased stress can help us feel more positive about quality family time and motivate us to spend time with our kids.
If we don’t like the type of mum we are, constantly feeling stressed and not looking after ourselves then it’s time to address that first.
Come and join me on Facebook for mum-to-mum support and empowerment. Or if you’d like something more personal then get in contact and we can organise a time to chat. I know how hard it is when life as a mum feels smothering. Our kids grow up too fast for us to not enjoy being a mum.