Hey my beautiful mom friend!
I'm sharing with you a tender moment I had with my grandfather, and how it shaped the decisions I make as a working mom regarding quality family time.
I've decided to share this moment because it changed how I dealt with momguilt surrounding how much time I was spending with my kids, and how I now stay focused on work AND build a family with strong bonds of love and friendship.
I have dreamed of being a stay at home mom my whole life. As a little girl I played pretend games for HOURS depicting myself with lots of kids having grand adventures, eating sandwiches, rocking them to sleep, and dramatically falling onto my bed in true motherly (ultra fulfilled) exhaustion.
When I became a mother it was the hardest thing I had ever taken on. The "fulfilled exhaustion" I expected was beyond ANY exhaustion I had ever felt before. This motherhood thing felt out of my league. As the years went on, I worked in and out of teaching jobs and ultimately started teaching privately out of my home until baby #4 joined us. Our family "bonding time" was sporadic at best. We were literally hustling day in and day out. My husband was working insane hours to pay all the bills as he desired to do- and I was working as much as I could trying to give us extra to have fun sometimes. I tried to create moments when our kids would have fun, but I never really new if what we were doing was "working." I had a lot of mom guilt building up from working and feeling like I was pushing my kids off to take on more students. I feared our cohesiveness as a family would suffer the longer this pattern went on.
A summer 6-7 years ago I attended an extended family reunion at my Grandparents home in Nibley, Utah. It was July, and the yard was in full bloom! This yard was the backdrop to many happy hours of play with cousins and siblings as I grew up. Grandma and Grandpa were getting on in years, both in their 80's at this time.
I sat visiting with cousins and eating wonderful foods and noticed my grandfather gently swinging in one of those yard swings. Do you know the kind? Those sheltered two person swings? He was sitting alone just admiring the scene. I could FEEL his love for his posterity all getting along and I felt drawn to sit next to him. I excused myself from the table I was sitting at and walked over and sat close to him. I watched along with him for a few minutes, admiring the laughing, smiling faces and thought, "He must feel accomplished. He must feel proud of how his family turned out. Everyone able to get along. Just look at this scene!" (He had 5 children, and had 30 something grandkids and I'm not sure how many great-grandkids he has now!)
Wondering at his thoughts on my assumption, I turned to him and simply stated,
"Grandpa, you must be proud of how your family turned out. Just look at all this happiness!"
To which, he looked down at his feet and quietly replied,
"Yes. It is wonderful to see. It does my heart good. As a parent you always wonder if you are doing the right things."
I cocked my head to the side and decided to take advantage of this moment to hopefully earn some wisdom for my own family rearing goals. I asked,
"Grandpa, what do you think made the biggest difference in your kids staying friends? What do you think was the biggest thing you and Grandma did to keep your family together and loving each other?"
He thought for a minute and turned to make eye contact with me. As I looked into those blue green eyes with sagging lids he replied,
"You have to find just one or two things that your family members ALL enjoy doing, and then invest in it over and over again. You know the boating we always did? The jeeping? I didn't grow up with those things. They weren't special interests of mine- but I saw that my kids sure loved it. They always asked about boating down at Lake Powell and Jeeping around the Monticello [Utah] area. So I bought a boat and kept that damn thing running. I helped the boys fix their jeeps. I encouraged the trips to the lake. We always seemed to have a good time. We just always did those two things and the family kept doing them together for the most part. Everyone came, every time if we could manage it. I think families that are disconnected simply didn't spend enough time together doing hard things and fun things. Seeing each other succeed, seeing each other fail and learning to respect one another. I think thats what it is Robyn. You gotta find just one or two things that your family likes to do, and then always do it- invest in it and have fun together."
I took SO much from that moment!
I sat back and silently verified what he'd said.
I recalled my dad (my grandfather's son) telling me story after story about boating and jeeping trips from his youth. I recalled my uncles and grandma and aunt chiming in on inside jokes and remembering silly times as well.
I recalled how my family, my immediate siblings and parents who have a TON of fun together had done something similar. We took family trips once or twice a year camping, hiking, and seeing new sights. And when we get together now- we definitely respect one another and laugh and joke and recall SO many bonding moments! This nugget of wisdom started to sink in.
In this post today I want to help other working moms to know that if you take the time to do just one or two things that your family loves to do together, and you do it often, your family will bond and be strong and love and respect one another EVEN if you are working. Most of the mompreneurs I work with have a goal to nurture their families and spend quality time with them, and suffer from HUGE amounts of momguilt when their business has a busy season and it SEEMS that they aren't spending a lot of time with them- which brings up a fear that the family will somehow become disconnected and their goals of a loving family with quality time might not happen.
Momguilt is something I address in most of my workshops, courses and in my accountability groups for healthy lifestyle choices. Momguilt is something that I believe stems from a GOOD place. It stems from your divine nature. Your very nature as a woman is to nurture life. To solve problems so growth can occur. To calm troubled waters. To give shelter in fearful situations. When we begin to work and take time that others may perceive is all our own, we start to wonder if this work we are doing is nurturing to our families. We start to continually check ourselves and make sure this work we do isn't taking away from our precious family cohesiveness goal. We are always quick to stop working as a conduit of light to those outside our home if we feel our light inside our home is dimming. Of course we do! We want to nurture life, and without light that cannot happen.
But here's the truth I learned from Grandpa. Just pick one or two things. And do them consistently with your family, and that is really ALL you need.
You might be asking- "REALLY?" With one eye brow up and feeling full of skepticism or even criticism for my bold declaration.
But guess what?
For the past 6 years as I've worked online from home and working REGULAR hours, I have put this wisdom to the test multiple times.
I have had years where I was traveling a LOT. Years when I was gone for various reasons not work related. Years when my husband was working so many hours he really wasn't home much. BUT-------- in 2014 our family set a goal to make 2 vacations a year for the family priority. We discussed what fun things we ALL like to do, and road tripping to fun destinations came out on TOP.
We've stuck to our goal and you know what? My grandpa was RIGHT.
My kids are FRIENDS with each other.
Just taking our annual fall family vacation weeks before this post was written proved yet again the validity of this truth. I watched my kids- aged at the time of this writing 15, 12, 10, 6 and 2 all play TOGETHER. The 2 year old clings to mom most of the time still, but the other 4 play together and genuinely have fun. They encourage each other to try new things, and don't poke fun if they fail. I am not some parenting genius. I yell and don't wash our sheets nearly enough and forget to bath my toddler more than I'd like to admit. But those things aren't my GOALS. My goal is to have a family that LOVES each other and respects one another and lifts one another! And this simple truth of picking one to two things that the whole family loves and then investing in it over and over has SOLVED so much of my momguilt about work interfering with my family cohesiveness.
It just WORKS.
So if you are a working mom feeling some momguilt about how much time you spend with your kids, and yet you have prioritized some DANG GOOD Quality time doing something you ALL love regularly- You can confidently shake it off! And if you don't have something in place yet, take this week to get together with your kids or do some research in those moments you have 1:1 in the car and ASK them,
"What do you like to do? What do you like to do together? What do you like to do as a family? What are your FAVORITE memories of our family together? Where were we? What were we doing?"
Their answers will likely surprise you.
My kids didn't say Disneyland when I asked these questions although I expected it. They talked about the house we stayed at when we went on the trip that included a few days at Disneyland. They talked over and over about the afternoons we spend at that rental house! We rented a house with a pool in the yard and citrus trees and a huge outdoor eating area with an amazing grill. My sister and her kids rented it with us (it was a large home.) My kids apparently LOVED the moments we had there with family MORE than any of the moments we had at Disney. I know they liked Disney, but the memories that stuck with them were the moments at the house, in the pool, playing games with each other in the warm sun. They don't remember the fights in the car. They don't recall when I was frustrated during the long lines at the mermaid ride. They just remember when they were bonding. They remember the opportunities they had TOGETHER to learn and grow.
At the end of the day my friend-
You CAN serve others with your skills, expertise, and product that you have had a transformation with AND raise a loving family. Others NEED your perspective and voice and experiences to guide them to their own transformation. Do not let spending quality time with your kids daily be something that lures you into the darkness of momguilt. Let this seed of simplifying this quality time into blocked times doing something you all love together grow. Experiment upon it. I think you will LOVE the peace you'll feel and the joy your family will gain from taking my grandpas words of wisdom into your heart.
The Healthy Mompreneur
PS--- I know that the holidays are coming and your calendar is willing up with all kinds of parties and commitments. I get it! Mine is too. :) BUT--- the winter illnesses are also filling up the pediatricians time slots. Feeding our families healthy food still is high on the priority list, isn't it? Having fast, healthier recipes on hand to whip up within a half hour is going to make keeping your family strong and healthy to combat the illnesses DOABLE. Download my 30 meals <30 minutes HERE. You'll be glad you did!