There are a lot of debates on whether working mums or stay at home mums or work at home mums are doing the best for their children. My take on this issue is that what is best will differ from family to family and from sitution to situation. It is also important to remember that what is best will sometimes also have to be balanced by what is expedient. Many families are dependent on two incomes to stay afloat. Apart from that, many mothers, myself included need the challenge of work outside the home and that has nothing to do with whether or not they are good mothers.
I believe that the important thing is to be present when you are present, meaning prioritise your time with your kids so that your mind is also with them and it is quality and fun. I have seen many mothers (stay at home mums as well as working mums) who spend every free time on the phone or on the internet, keeping their kids in front of the tv or saying 'go to your room', 'don't disturb me', 'can't you see I'm on the phone?' anything just to be able to be by themselves unbothered by their kids and that is sad. Of course, there are cases where every mum will need to be undisturbed and have time to themselves, but when it is a constant occurrence, it is sad.
Someone once told me of a case of a 4 year old child who could not speak or understand her mother's native language because she spent most of the day at the child-minder's - who spoke a different language from the parents - and when she was home, the mother spent all her time on the phone and never really spoke to her child except to give her 'commands'. Unsurprisingly, the child never wanted to leave the child-minder's house and it was a daily struggle to take her home.
It happens once in a while for kids that are cared for outside the home to not want to go hóme, but if it is a daily occurence, some self-reflection on the part of the parents/mum is probably due.
So, what are the signs that you are not spending enough time with your kids or are not present enough when you are spending time with your kids?
Health issues - there are many health issues that you can only catch at home, no matter how vigilant your childcare provider is. Also, for older kids, schools are there to provide education and not to look after your children. That is your job. My kids kindergarten is located behind a school and sometimes when walking through, I see kids playing outside in the cold without their jackets, because the teachers are teachers and not child care providers and don't check that kids are properly dressed for the weather.
Irittability and agressivness - If your otherwise playful and friendly or toddler starts to get unexplainable aggressive and irritable, it could be that they require more attention from you. There will be phases where your children require more or less attention from you and you need to be attune to their non-verbal and many times subconcious for them means of communication.
Clinginess - clinginess is normal from time to time, but during those phases, your child probably needs extra attention from you. Sometimes, clinginess might be related to a developmental milestone.
Decreased appetite and uneasy sleep: These might not always be caused by physiological issues but can stem from a psychological need.
For older children and young adults, the signs can differ slightly from signs shown by younger children and can include:
• Failing health and school grades
• Lack of sleep
• Loss of friends
• Lack of interest in activities
• Doing drugs or picking up vices
• Showing unexpected behaviour
These signs listed above are just some signs that might indicate that your child needs some more time and attention from you. ‘Parents should understand that a child’s need extends beyond the basic food, clothes, comfort and sleep. They have psychological needs too, which can only be compensated by spending enough time with them,’ explains Dr Sonar.
In the next post, we will look at ways to ensure that you spend enough quality time with your children while ensuring enough private space for both yourself and the children.
In the meantime, please post any symptoms that might also indicate that your children need more Quality interactions from you.
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