“I know honey, but Mommy’s really busy today. I have this deadline,” I tell him, as if today’s an anomaly. “Maybe we can play tomorrow.”
But I’m not just busy today, I’m busy always. As a freelancer, opportunity comes in waves, and while I’m no stranger to the feast or famine aspect of my professional career, my kids struggle with the notion that even though Mom is here, she can’t always be present.
So how can I mitigate the negative impact of Mom’s professional “feast” on my kids? Surprisingly, pretty easily.
Take a look at 5 ways busy parents can help their kids feel special when time and energy are limited:
1. Explain the hows and whys in age-appropriate terms
The older my kids get, the better able they are to understand obligations outside of their immediate interests. That said, when I’m facing a professional surge, I like to sit down with them and explain what’s going on. “Mom’s going to be really busy for the next week or so and need you to understand why…” Not only does our face-to-face allow them to ask questions, it gives me the opportunity to address any concerns they may have.
2. Ask for help — from them, from others
No parent is an island, and every one of us needs help sometimes — so ask! Give your children the opportunity to help you in specific and meaningful ways when you need it most, never assuming they instinctively know how. Even simple things like remembering to stay quiet or trying extra hard not to argue with a brother or sister can really help a busy parent become more productive. Be sure to also enlist the help of a partner, family member, friend, or hired babysitter to assist in caring for your kids in times of peak demand.
3. Carve out time, even if it’s only a little
You may not have time to watch a movie or engage in a never-ending game of Chutes and Ladders, but you can (and should) always stop to give hugs, eat meals together, and tuck them in at night. Moments of connection — no matter how small — are vitally important to your child’s well-being.
4. Show you care in creative ways
It’s the little things that mean so much, so take the time to tuck a special note in your child’s lunchbox, grab their favorite snack at the store, download that long-awaited movie, or give that extra-long hug. Caring actions go a long way in bridging the togetherness gap.
5. Make it up to them
You (hopefully) won’t always be this busy, so plan a day where you become all theirs. Leave your career behind to focus solely on them. It doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you’re together.