Parenting..More Than a “To-Do” List

ThinkstockPhotos-476027825 (3)I have two children that have graduated from high school and the youngest will start his sophomore year in high school this fall.   So my parenting years are dwindling. Do I have any regrets?  Well…I’m sure like many busy mothers; the years seemed to fly by and most of the time, I was blessed with children who were typically “easy” and didn’t demand intensive parental intervention.   Somewhere during those early years I remember reading a book by William Doherty, Ph.D. about being “intentional”. Doherty’s book helped me to realize the importance of everyday rituals that could strengthen our family and marital relationships.   I learned that I couldn’t do it ALL.  But I also learned that being intentional meant setting priorities.   And I learned that if I didn’t set goals, things just wouldn’t get done.  But sometimes, I just got tangled up in the never ending details of family life and responsibilities.  My kids have always been good at keeping me centered on what was most important.  I learned that when they were most unlovable, they needed love the most.  And when they were quiet and happily playing alone, they needed me just as much as when they were whining and pulling at my leg for attention.  We have attempted to make our family communication a two way street.  I know that I have learned as much from my children, as they have learned from me.  One of my most treasured “ah-ah” moments for me came from a mother’s day gift—from my then 12-year old daughter.   She framed a Dove Chocolate wrapper—with the fitting quote, “Life is more than a to-do list”.  How shaming, yet so very spot on!  I was taken back by her subtle communication tactic.  But I took her advice to heart and I still have the chocolate wrapper as a reminder of the most important things in life.  Be intentional and remember to take time for what matters most.

Janet Smith

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a Human Science Specialist-Family LIfe with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She currently provides family life programming in eight counties in southeast Iowa. Janet is a "parenting survivor". She is the mother of Jared-21, Hannah-20, and Cole-15. She and her husband, David have faced many challenges together, including their son Jared's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy diagnosis.

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Mothers are Busy People

I just read an interesting statistic from the Pew Research Center. Their data shows that between paid and unpaid work, the average mother works about 2 more hours a week than she did in 1965. But the mix of time spent on paid work, housework, and child care has changed dramatically. Today the average number of hours mothers with children spend each week are as follows: child care 13.5, housework 17.8, and paid work 21.4.

Yes, mothers are busy people. The findings from the Pew Research Center also point to 56% of paid work mothers saying it is very or somewhat difficult to balance work and family responsibilities. That’s not really a big surprise. Figuring out how to keep everything going at home and at work takes organization, flexibility, and commitment. I would also add a sense of humor and the ability to function on little sleep. 🙂

I grew up in a family where I watched my mother work hard. She took care of the home; tended a large garden and raised chickens; supported us kids in our school, church, and 4-H activities; orchestrated family functions; and taught school. I’m guessing there were many days she found it hard to manage work and family. But somehow she kept it together and taught us many life lessons. And most important of all was that we always knew Mother was there for us. What a wonderful gift to give your children!

How do you handle all the many roles of being a mother?

 

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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