17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Do you sit on the floor?

I'm having an "am I a good mother?" day. In my three years as a mom I have noticed there are two kinds of moms (this is a gross generalization): Moms who sit on the floor and play and moms who do not.

I've seen these two kinds of moms and their children in action. Moms who do not sit on the floor are coming and going, involved in several different activities at a time and "checking in" with their kids. They are getting things done but may sometimes out of touch with how their children are playing and what they're up to. Sometimes their kids may become clingy because they're just not getting enough one-on-one time with mom. On the flip side, these kids sometimes learn to play well on their own and don't need constant attention and interaction from a parent/caregiver - they're fairly confident on their own. Kids play, mom gets stuff done.

The other kind of mom spends a large chunk of her day doing whatever their child is doing - playing on the floor with blocks, coloring, taking walks, reading stories. These moms are right there in the thick of it, for good or bad. On the positive side, these kids are getting lots of mom time, interaction and teaching opportunities. On the negative side, sometimes these kids can't operate on their own. They need that constant attention and when they don't get it they freak out or get clingy. Kids play, mom gets almost nothing done.

I fall somewhere in the middle but closer to mom number one. When my son was about 3 months old I made a conscious decision to help him entertain himself so that I would not be his constant source of ALL. Maybe its personality, maybe its "training" but it worked great - he is happy and confident and does best when he's figuring things out for himself. He and his sister play well on their own and understand that mom is not at their constant beck and call for everything. I take 15 minutes here to read books, 20 minutes there to play with trains, 10 minutes to watch "Little Einsteins" together, but then I'm off folding laundry, making phone calls, doing stuff for work, making dinner.

What is the right balance? Am I shortcoming's my children by working part time (out of the home), by not being a "sit on the floor" kind of mom? Do they need more than I am giving them?Or would I be doing them a greater disservice by constantly being there, participating in every activity with them? I want them to thrive...but I want to thrive as well. So what is the right balance? What do you do with your child/children?


  • I ask myself this question every day, sometimes several times. I lean more towards mom #1 as well, and the guilt I feel at times is overwhelming. But then I see a mom #2 with her 5 year old who can't be left alone at dance class and cries when she goes to Primary. I don't want my children to need their mommy with them every step of the way.

    One thought I had though, is that Heavenly Father knew what He was doing when He sent us the children that we have, personalities and all. Whether biological or adopted, the kids we have are meant to be ours --I truly believe that. So although you might think your children need more "floor time", maybe they don't. Maybe God knew you were a mom #1 and so He sent you those kids that wouldn't have done as well with a mom #2. And vice versa with mom #2's.

    As long as you have priorities and they seem correct, then I bet you're doin' just fine.... :)

    P.S. My mom worked as a teacher (still does) and I never once felt deprived or that she somehow didn't love me. In fact, I can't even remember my babysitters names or faces from those early years --only my mom. (and she was mom #1)..
    posted by Blogger Cheryl at 1/16/2006 11:18:00 AM  

  • Cheryl thank you so much for your comments - really made me think. Maybe I'm on the right track after all.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/16/2006 11:42:00 AM  

  • Oooohh... I'm right there with you, and sometimes lay in bed at night wondering if I'm being a good enough mom.

    I am definately mom generalization #1, and I too run a business from home- and with baby #3 due in April, I have been wracked with guilt lately about the 'benign neglect' under which my kids sometimes live.

    Curious to see what kind of feedback you get on this one... I always thought I would be a #2, but it just doesn't fly for me- I end up one unhappy mama, and is that better for them? I truly don't know.
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 1/16/2006 11:57:00 AM  

  • I am totally Mom #2. I spend every waking minute with my children, entertaining them with enriching activities that area only about one of five core subjects. TV is limited to a strict 22 minutse a day and meals are only fresh and organic..snacks too.

    Just kidding.
    I am totally #1...and probably a really bad version of it too. #1's unite...hey, thanks for giving us the number 1!
    posted by Blogger Kage at 1/16/2006 03:28:00 PM  

  • With my first child I leaned more toward mother #2, but with my second I am now more of a mom #1. I think #1 works better.(for me at least) My #1 child is needy, clingy and at 3 still wants me to dress her. Maybe it is because of the shift in my parenting and she now feels neglected, but my child #2 likes me to play with her, but doesn't depend on me for entertainment. It is a refreshing difference. I am all for a balance, but I feel like you can rob your children of their independence, and at the same time rob yourself as well.
    Motherhood is riddled with guilt, no matter how great you are it never feels like you have it just right.:\
    posted by Blogger Abby at 1/16/2006 03:29:00 PM  

  • One of the most dreaded questions my 4 year old asks me is "Mommy, can you play Barbies with me?" And I was never going to allow that female demeaning, unrealistically large breasted doll, if in the guise of Belle, into my house. I often try to offer another way to spend time with me as an alternative. "Do you want to read a book?" Luckily, she really likes books too.

    I think I am perfectly comfortable letting them play on them own for part of the day. We are all more content that way. Sometimes, I will sit in the room near them doing something while they play. They know I'm right there, and they can play happily (sometimes on their own, and occasionally together).

    On days where I have them both for a full day, it is inevitable that we will go somewhere--library, museum, even to the grocery store. We just have a hard time being at home for a long day without getting on each others' nerve and tearing the house to pieces. It works for us, but I fully realize that I need to improve in my playing skills. Engaging with them wholeheartedly in the things they want to do. My measure for how we are doing in how happy my kids are and how happy and satisfying my days are. I have found that a mix of preschool and babysitter, playing at home and going on outings, a bit of tv, lots of books and talking seems to work pretty well for us even if we are constantly adjusting and finetuning.
    posted by Blogger Michelle at 1/16/2006 06:39:00 PM  

  • I think independence is very important, even from a young age, so I try to be a #1, allowing my daughter a lot of free time. So far it has worked, we'll see what happens when we add other kids to the mix.

    This is an interesting division. I might have catagorized moms as: those who consult parenting books/websites first and those who try their own theories first.
    posted by Blogger a spectator at 1/16/2006 08:50:00 PM  

  • I think the answer lies in the fact that you DO sit on the floor, that you're questioning and trying to be a good mom.

    I'm totally with you...meaning I totally question myself. I think it's really important for them to learn to play independently and you KNOW when you've ignored them for two long. You pretty much can't miss it.
    posted by Blogger The Daring One at 1/16/2006 10:24:00 PM  

  • Some #1 parenting is good, throw in some #2, and you're set. I think moderation in both makes all the difference. So much depends on the personalities of the kids--and the number of kids. When I only had one I was doing a lot more playing. With two they play so much (and fairly well) together that I can sneak away more often. I notice how much both kids REALLY enjoy it when I leave my email and grant their request for a game of Batman and Batgirl. I'm usually "Bad Woman". I was sad once when a friend of mine told me she'd refused her little girl upon being asked to play "house", saying that "I just don't like to play pretend anymore." I think if we occasionally give the kids 100% of our playing attention, whether we like being "Bad Woman" or not, that the kids won't need us QUITE so much, so often. We may fill their quota so we can get a break. Or you'll know it's fair and won't feel bad telling the kiddos it's time for your break.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 1/17/2006 05:16:00 AM  

  • Ok, just as I clicked "publish" my almost 5 year old, Andrew, yells from the bathroom, "MOM! Abby (2 1/2) just pooped in the bathtub!" FUN for me--nothing like cleaning up soggy poop. Too bad I wasn't being a #2 at that point. Ha ha.
    posted by Blogger Katie at 1/17/2006 05:28:00 AM  

  • I had a breakthrough moment today with my 3 year old. After having breakfast together and getting my little girl cleaned up, I got them both set up with toys and an episode of Little Einsteins then went off to my little office space for some work. Sophie came crying to the door and Simon followed her. Uh oh, I thought - not a good start to the day. Simon put his arm around Sophie and said "Come on Loafie, mom working. Let's go play". If they kill each other and trash the house today, I will still bask in that golden moment of my little boy taking care of his sister and allowing me my space.

    Maybe this day is off to a good start after all.

    Maybe mom #1 isn't so bad sometimes.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 1/17/2006 09:41:00 AM  

  • Great question, and no matter what, I'll feel guilty for not doing it in the perfect balance. I started my motherhood following the Dr. Sears style -- "attachment parenting" where supposedly your child's needs are met as you respond quickly and hold them all the time, etc. But I'd like to know whether it even makes a difference as opposed to letting them cry and fend for themselves more.
    posted by Blogger Squiddy at 1/17/2006 11:25:00 AM  

  • Nephi's play usually involves a running monologue about what is going on in his pretend world. The stories he tells can go on for a whole hour. He needs me to be listening to him and offering comments and questions now and then: "Wow. Then what happened?" as he plays, which I can do while I am doing something else. So I feel like I am participating and getting my own stuff done. He does say now and then "mom, don't you want to play with me?" And then I get right down and play with him. We also read together and do puzzles ect so I feel like that is quality one on one time. It has to be a balance.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 1/17/2006 03:14:00 PM  

  • I was way more "hands on" with my first daughter, and have gotten pretty lazy about playing with my kids now that they can play together. I am not a fun mom by nature, and I feel guilty about it.

    For awhile I at least tried to play a board game after dinner a few times a week with my kids, but at present most of the quality time I have with them is reading aloud. If we hadn't started that habit long ago, I might not even do that much.
    posted by Blogger Allison at 1/17/2006 03:19:00 PM  

  • I personally feel the best type of mom is a 1-2 combo. THey need alone time, but also mom time. Not too much of either. The best thing for your child is a healthy mom that can be clear headed enough to contemplate what thier child needs. I have found when i am floundering myself, my childs needs rarely come first. But if Im fulfilled I can play with him a bit and also foster independent play without him thinking I am abandoning him. And just remember its quality not quantity.My only example is that of my husbands father who worked 70+ hrs in the ER every week. My husband doesnt feel he has been slighted in the least because his dad was always there when it really mattered to him...i.e. school projects, baseball games etc. I think if you are in tune to your children, you will be able to make wise desisions about what they need. my huntch tells me you are doing just fine. dont let the guilt get you down. Most guilt we feel (i think) is a direct attack from that meany we all know as satan. He knows the family will crumble if he can paralize mom with guilt...so dont give in.
    posted by Blogger ksl at 1/17/2006 08:03:00 PM  

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