My girls jump on their trampoline in the backyard almost daily. Thankfully that’s possible most times here in Texas. Except for the recent snowpocalypse when it was covered in a sheet of ice.
Inevitably when I shoo them outside, they utter the same request: Will you come jump with us? Their three tiny voices so full of hope.
Hope that I regularly squash in the palm of my hand because hahahahaha! My plan is not to go jump. My plan is to get them to go jump so I can have some peace and quiet. Because they’ve been home all of 45 minutes, there are socks and shoes everywhere (how many feet do they have?) and I can no longer see the surface of my dining room table after the twin homework fiasco. But I’ll give my kids this: they don’t give up. They ask and ask and ask and ask until I say OMG fine! I will come jump with you! Only I’m a little nicer about it, because seriously, it’s just a trampoline.
I’ve given every excuse in the book. I’m working. I’m tired. I have a headache. My back hurts (totally legit excuse right now that actually does make trampolining impossible).
I recently had a chance to read Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford, author of the popular blog of the same name, and I realized that I don’t want to be the mom who makes excuses anymore. Because sooner or later, my kids will start to think that I’m brushing them off. I mean, I am totally brushing them off, but I need to make them think it’s their idea.
When I step out onto the patio, it’s like a party in my honor. Mommy’s here! She’s going to jump with us! Their excitement digs its way into my heart. Remember this, I tell myself. Remember how much they want you to play with them.
So we jump. They sit on the trampoline while I jump close to them, sending them sailing into the air, their faces full of delight and just a little bit of terror. We play Ring Around the Rosie, everyone anticipating we all fall DOWN! We collapse in a fit of giggles and they all pile onto me and we lay there, looking up at the sky.
Remember this, I tell myself. Remember how much they just want to be with you.
And it never fails that after a few minutes of jumping, my headache is gone and my fatigue is dashed.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Rachel’s book and the message it delivers to let go of distraction and be with our children. I freelance from home. I try to do most of my work during hours that my kids are all in school, but there are times when I need to attend to something while Zoe draws next to me or plays on her tablet. Those times don’t worry me. It’s the times that I deliberately choose my distractions over my children that I need to work on.
That’s what Rachel’s book does. She reminds us of the beauty of every day life. Like do I really need to check my phone while I’m on a walk with my kids? Probably not. Can I survive a trip to the park without my phone? Can I completely shut down my computer one the kids come home from school?
I think about Rachel’s book every time I’m checking social media while waiting (and waiting and waiting) for Zoe to finish her dinner. I think about it when someone is talking to me, but I’m not quite hearing them because I really need to find a place to put this Q in Words with Friends. And more than once someone has gotten impatient about the morning and insisted that I’m NOT making breakfast, I’m just looking at my phone. Ouch. (FWIW I AM making breakfast. Waffles, thankyouverymuch.)
I’m working on it, with great results. Sure, if the kids are happily playing together, I allow myself some time. There are three of them involved deep in a game of Ninja Turtles. I admit I’m not a player. Give me all the crafts and all the puzzles, but make believe is not my thing. Especially when they have such distinct rules of what’s going on. No, Mom. Leo doesn’t say that. WELL.
But I still need reminders. I need reminders to just sit and watch a movie with them, no matter what I can “get done” in that time (newsflash: you’re not doing anything important). I need reminders to sing an extra round of the twins’ bedtime lullaby. I need reminders not to sigh heavily when Zoe asks me to scratch her back, then her left arm, then her right arm, now stroke my nose, Mommy, and now my eyelids.
Someday I will ache for this ritual.
Hand Free Mama is on sale now! If you enjoy her wildly popular blog, you will love this book. Here’s where you can get it:
Amazon (affiliate link)
I was graciously given a copy of Hands Free Mama for review. All words and opinions and typos are completely my own.