But it's really difficult to figure out how to cultivate this parent-child relationship, to know where to draw the line. Plus some kids have different needs than others, and that makes it even harder.
My oldest as a toddler was a mommy-hog. He always wanted me to play with him. Let me tell you, I think I set some world records in Thomas the Tank Engine track layout time. My second child gives me the evil eye if I interrupt his play time. And my third is somewhere in between.
To deal with my oldest, I gave up on me time when he was awake. I used to set my alarm and wake up when it was still dark so I could have some time to myself.
But now, things are more complicated. My kids aren't toddlers anymore. They love to watch movies and play games, so I limit their screen time, but still. There are some days that are crazy busy. Like Thursdays, when I volunteer. I often leave before they're awake, come home to feed the younger kids lunch, and then take them to kindergarten and preschool. The two older ones want to play at their friends' house after school, and then I don't see them until dinner time. After dinner, I leave for rehearsal and get back for bedtime. On days like that, I ask myself some serious questions about how much time I spend with them.
And even when I'm here at home, I have things to do. I have blog posts to write and books to edit and mountains of laundry and empty drink boxes on the floor.
The kids say, "Mom! Play with me! Read to me!". Nobody ever tells you how to determine their needs, as in, "Your kids need your full attention 2.5 hours per day." So I question myself no matter what. If I play with my kids, that's great. We have fun together. But there's something to be said for your kids learning how to amuse themselves and learning that Mommy has a life, too, so that they don't grow up to become spoiled brats who expect to be waited on. It isn't just a matter of feeling guilty, though most moms are good at that. Sometimes I honestly don't know how to gauge their needs. They need me more at some times of the day than others. And then, when I think I've got it all figured out, they get older and bigger and suddenly their needs change.
Part of me, after I realize I've hardly looked at my kids all day, thinks to myself, "If they amused themselves, that's fine. They don't need you to intervene." The other part says, "No! When you're home, you're not supposed to stare at the computer and scrub dishes all day! They don't have to say they need you--they still do."
I still haven't figured it out. Kids need attention, and I know quality time isn't necessarily measured in minutes. But how do you know how much your kids really need? How do you divide up time when it will never be enough, no matter what you do? How do you know when to give them more, and how do you know when to let go?